The wave of mega-trends, including rapid change in globalization and technological advances, is creating new market forces. Metaverse, 5G, XR, Web3 and other technologies are pointing to a revolution we've never seen before and have made innovation an almost essential element for any company and business.

Innovation must search for intelligent solutions to tackle major social ills and pursue strategies to remove barriers to the smart future. But these Innovation processes take time and require both learning and adaptation across the organization and in multiple domains.

Here's how companies can drive innovation in this new era:

Innovation across the board

Just having one team dedicated to innovation is not enough. Innovation processes require fast access to a variety of experts in different fields, available for brainstorming, POCs planning, and validating future concepts. Innovation teams need to get access to almost any department, from ML & AI to architects and developers.

The innovation team and the development team must be involved together in ongoing projects. This benefits both: the innovation team gains a deeper understanding of the products and pain points, and the development teams get innovative ideas and suggestions for solutions.

Strong ties to HQ and company strategy

Innovation is often perceived by leaders as difficult to measure. But that’s not necessarily true. Innovation is a process that influences the way teams solve problems and eventually the way the company runs and performs– these are the measurable OKRs leaders need to be looking for. The key to innovation is to make an impact on the entire organization and that should be the main OKR for innovation teams.

By pitching your innovation ideas not only to management but also to other teams, you can gain a different point of view on them. Being involved in the development process is how you make your solutions clearer and how you eventually make a change.

Synergy between models

There are several methods of innovation one needs to take under consideration when researching new ideas. The most popular methods are disruptive innovation, sustaining innovation and evolutionary innovation.

Disruptive innovation creates a new market and value network and eventually displaces established market-leading firms, products, and alliances; sustaining innovation which seeks to improve existing products, meaning, it does not create new markets or values, but rather merely develop existing ones; and evolutionary innovation, which is an overview of the main areas of activity that exist today, and how parallel areas can be obtained to grow and expand. Another approach would be to examine abandoned products that might generate additional revenue for the company.

The “innovator’s dilemma” is the tough choice any company faces when it must choose between holding onto an existing market by doing the same, yet slightly better (sustaining innovation), or capturing new markets by embracing new technologies and adopting new business models (disruptive innovation). Different objectives require different approaches, but for innovation teams to make an impact and achieve their goals, at least two of the methodologies must be combined.

Engage the community or create one

Innovation teams often spend much of their time researching and learning, but that alone is not enough; They should be out there connecting with other entrepreneurs and innovators to prevent being captured by a single concept or adopting the same paradigm.Developer communities on or offline that focus on a specific topic or technology can be a good place to dive into a new domain. If you can’t find one, build one.

In summary, innovation teams should act as internal entrepreneurs to drive ideas and influence other teams and management. It means utilizing everything you already know about entrepreneurship, plus focusing on listening to other opinions, being flexible, and being an expert in promoting ideas within the organization. In contrast to stand-alone start-ups pitching to VCs, innovation teams only get one chance most of the time.

Written by Netanel Mohoni  Product Innovation squad lead at AT&T R&D Center Israel