Companies worldwide have embraced the Innovation Center concept to fuel organic growth, only to run into an immovable barrier. They do all the right things that largely center on the physical facility, technology tools, and people. Expectations and enthusiasm run high, but eventually so does cost. And when the expense becomes noticeable on the financials, absent of results, the end is near. It’s then that Innovation Center leaders begin to think about leaving, often to VCs or other familiar businesses.
The Problem is Twofold
Innovation Without Purpose – Great minds and the right resources can produce great technologies, but when there are no reasonable use-cases for the innovation that directly or indirectly advance corporate priorities for the business, either today or in the future, the Center finds itself without purpose. And with no purpose there is no life for the Center.
No Real Sales Support – Even with purpose, a Center can eventually die. The reality is that sellers often view new innovative products as a difficult complication to their efforts. Already, they are working hard to meet quota in a largely virtual world, while also responding to internal reporting and coordination activities that are not optional. But that’s not the real problem. Innovation generally means educating customers to the opportunity without any installed base to reference, which takes up a lot of time that most sellers don’t have today. It also means no customer RFIs, many fewer RFPs to lead the way, and no allocated budgets. At the same time, customers have never been more risk averse than today, where the real competition can be no decision. The result is a barrier, or boundary condition, between the Innovation Center and the sales organization.