The IRI conference attracts Leaders in Innovation from all over the globe to talk about everything R&D. While these companies span a wide variety of industries, many innovators were seeking solutions to similar problems. Vito Buffa, Director of Innovation Management at Henkel explained how quarterly results hinder innovation when we met him in Pittsburgh at IRI Annual 2019.
Business leaders want predictable results and that can be determined with small time increments. But developing technology takes a long time, a lot longer than the time it takes to fill a customer request. So that requires the innovation group to have foresight as to what the potential requests from the customer would be, said Buffa.
Businesses need to advance to a certain level with technology development, added Buffa, and have the foresight at least three to five years out, so that they’ll have those technologies in place to create the applications to deliver the products when the customers need them.
To not look this far out could be detrimental, noted Buffa. It just takes one competitor to be thinking ahead and that can be extremely dangerous to the survival of your company.
“You need to have a portion of your portfolio dedicated to long term,” said Buffa.
To build that long term planning, work with the thinkers in the industry who have an understanding of how your industry will change over time, said Buffa. Keep the business engaged with long term planning by running a parallel project that acts as an incremental version of the product your innovators are working on which will be more like the second or third generation of the technology.
If the business and research develop technology in parallel, they can see short term gains, while also improving speed to market of long term efforts.
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