The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a changing environment, posing several challenges that call for innovative solutions, leading to a changing innovation landscape.
The infection control practices taken by governments worldwide to manage the health crisis have caused an economic crisis, for instance, by the reaction of financial markets. COVID-19 is potentially changing society beyond health issues, these unforeseen problems have led to new behaviors and novel needs and innovation is likely to respond to these changes.
Although the COVID-19 crisis is unique, crises seem to have a negative effect on the overall innovation activity in economies. For many firms, there is a danger of missing the opportunities arising from the changing innovation landscape. For instance, firms often reacted to the 2008 financial crisis with rationalization efforts. Cutting down on innovation activities is a pitfall to avoid during the COVID-19 crisis, since protecting the firm’s substance, key value creating activities and its knowledge base is important while continuing to improve market share, customer base and product leadership. Reducing innovation expenditures to protect the core business activities would thus be myopic, particularly because prior research has identified innovation activity as an essential driver of success throughout a recession.
Mining new opportunities
For the participants of this ecosystem, it is difficult to know how long the recovery will take and predict what the next normal will look like. The pandemic is accelerating and reconfiguring existing trends in the economy. It has not only caused the emergence of new threats, but also new opportunities. Both types of influences lead to profound changes in the macroeconomic and micro-economic environment of this ecosystem. For instance, they are driving the emergence of new consumer behaviors, new regulatory trends, and new technologies. Innovation policy can support the investment of research and development funds and the improvement of innovation capabilities within the firm. It is important to reimagine existing Innovation capability to launch new relevant, forward-looking activities with small incubation budgets. Creation of end-to-end experience is a design led activity that pushes consumers and innovators to be relevant in current times.
Sustainable innovation – the way forward
Given that a crisis of the size of the COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by many pressing challenges, investigating how quickly organizations can react to the challenges with competitive innovative solutions is important. Innovative framework must include continuous inputs of organization challenges and generate diverse solutions that not only use futuristic digital technology trends but involve business, IT and customers in the solution development phase. Speed of identification of relevant business problem to solve, right stakeholders, right solution and right Go to market strategy helps Innovation led market making activities.
Good ideas can come from anywhere, making openness as an imperative in these times. Opening up will speed internal innovation process, enable to take advantage of the knowledge of others in the same business. This will create more room for experimentations, generate more knowledge, and allow for exploration of more ways to apply that knowledge for customers businesses. Innovation management should not only consider addressing the identified trends, it should also strive for the continuity and involvement of innovative start-ups, given that these flexible and energetic actors seem to be capable of helping to considerably speed up the innovation process.
Convergence innovation (CI), powered by the exponential fusion effect of the various players, technologies, ideas, and strategies is a new sustainable core competence of organizations. CI is an autonomous ecosystem enabled by advanced technologies, unique life cycle features, relationships with other innovation approaches and ecosystems, its purpose of value creation for the stakeholders and beyond for the greater good. CI can be a catalyst for managing the current pandemic and charting the path post crisis.