Open innovation – an alternative to continuous patent disputes


Posted on: March 27, 2013 by John Hall

The convergence of demographic changes (particularly the advent of Generation Y digital natives), globalization and the need for sustainable economic growth underpinned by a new level of trust is giving rise to new ways of working where traditional enterprise boundaries and silos disappear. Open innovation (OI) is evolving as an alternative way of tapping into wider pools of creativity and talent. It enables experts to collaborate on projects sharing ideas, expertise and knowledge. Managing OI is a balance between risk and reward enabled by clear processes that encourage trusted relationships between previously unconnected but like-minded parties.

Atos - Open innovation – an alternative to continuous patent disputesAlthough technology headlines in 2012 have been dominated by ‘patent wars’ between the world’s leading technology brands, Atos believes developers and engineers are already shifting towards an Open Innovation collaborative process and this will lead to better creativity and economic value for the benefit of both business and society. Organisations who adopt either internal or external Open Innovation can tap into skills and different perspectives from an increasingly diverse and rich pool of talent and ideas. At the same time, business models will evolve to leverage the outcome to the mutual benefit of the stakeholders.

Open Innovation is an enabling eco-system allowing companies to work together, to find solutions to problems and questions.In today’s environment of ever shortening product lifecycles it makes sense in terms of economic sustainability for companies of all size as a means of sharing at least some of their R&D costs. For it to be effective, companies need to decide what technology is core and represents IP to be guarded, and what they are willing to open up and collaborate with others on.

Major factors behind the move towards Open Innovation include:

  • Increasing cost of development and shorter product‘life-cycle’ make greater collaboration a financial necessity for many 

    The cost of continuous R&D is becoming prohibitive, especially for smaller organisations. The duplication of research, even within the same company, wastes time and resources on work that isn’t core or differentiating.

  • Changing demographics, attitudes and behaviours make OI an appealing way of working 

    From providing help to strangers on public forums and sharing information via social media platforms, to the more malicious participation in the creation of malware and viruses for the intellectual challenge, online behaviours are beginning to impact the way people choose to work. There is a rise in the number of people who want to act as freelance problem solvers and of companies looking to increase the creative brains working on a particular project or problem. The growth of Open Innovation Brokerage companies such as TopCoder and Innocentive is evidence of this trend, as are collaboration hubs such as Silicon Roundabout in London.

  • OI contributing to Economic Growth 

    The adoption of OI can inject agility and new momentum to businesses of all sizes. It is particularly useful to SMEs as both contributors to and beneficiaries of shared IP at reduced R&D cost. The release of non-personal data sets into data.gov.uk is an example of how the UK government are seeking to encourage open innovation around the use of data to create insight, value and even business opportunity.

    Atos supports Open Innovation in initiatives such as their IT Challenge: students from leading universities around the world researching Smart Mobility (2012). Concepts from the challenge have been further developed with and without Atos involvement. Some ideas have attracted interest from venture capitalists and are being pursued as commercial ventures.

    Other examples of Open Innovation are seen in companies like P & G and Philips and the Human Genome Project.

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About John Hall

Head of Strategy & Portfolio Atos UK&I; Editor in Chief for the Atos Scientific Community and member of the Scientific Community
John is a chartered Engineer with more than 30 years cross-industry IT and General Management experience in the Energy, Industry and Public Sectors. Having fulfilled a variety of roles including IT management, Programme & Account management and Operations management, John is now responsible for the strategy and governance underpinning the Atos UK&I portfolio of products and services. A member of the Atos Scientific Community, John is involved in all aspects of Innovation and thought leadership with regard to using business technology to address the current and future challenges faced by organisations . He has a particular focus on developing the strategy and go-to-market approach for digital transformation and disruptive technologies, with a particular focus on Hybrid cloud, Industrial Data Platforms, blockchain and the Gig economy. Married with 3 children, based in NW England. Enjoys rock climbing and running.

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