What is an innovation ?

  • new, different or better (product, service, …)
  • that a company brings to customers or to employees
  • which is widely used
  • and that generates payback


We consider two types of innovation

The incremental innovation, which offers something better or slightly different, but based on an existing product, service, …

The radical innovation, a breakthrough that gives the customer something never seen or experienced before.


What is the difference between an innovation and a new technology, invention or discovery?

The technology may be a way to develop a new product, new material, etc. In this case, Intellectual Property may be a key asset. But innovation and new technologies are not synonymous. For example, new Business Models or new services may be developed without cutting edge technology.

An invention is not widely used. A brilliant idea and perseverance do not always lead to market acceptance and payback.

A discovery is the observation of an existing phenomena and not the development and use of something new.

Confusion between these concepts is frequent because an invention may be the trigger for companies to innovate, and technology is very often the founda-
tion needed to build something new.

Innovation can occur in various forms

  • A product (the famous Post-it by 3M)
  • A service
    (the online gift list for a wedding)
  • A customer experience
    (a luminescent alarm clock by Philips)
  • An industrial process
    (more flexible, more productive, less pollutant, …)
  • A material (the Kevlar, an aramide fiber developed by DuPont)
  • An operational or organizational process (the assembly areas at Volvo, versus standard assembly lines)
  • A Business Model (the exclusive internet sale of computer equipment by DELL)