THE IMPORTANCE OF INNOVATION AND
INNOVATIVE THINKING IN INDUSTRY
(AND HOW TO ACHIEVE IT)
Ed Ashford
Corporate Development
PRESENTATION OUTLINE
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WHAT IS INNOVATION?
WHAT IS INNOVATIVE THINKING?
WHY DO WE NEED INNOVATION?
WHAT IS THE “RIGHT” INNOVATIVE PRODUCT?
WHAT IS THE “WRONG” PRODUCT?
HOW DO WE PROMOTE INNOVATIVE THINKING?
INNOVATION SHOULD IMPROVE COMPETIVENESS,
BUT...
INNOVATIVE INVENTIONS?
CONCLUSION
WHAT IS INNOVATION?
 Dictionaries and textbooks cannot seem to agree!
 A new idea, method, or device
 The creation (verb) of something in the mind
 A creation (noun) - - a new device or process - - resulting
from study and experimentation
 The introduction of something new
 A creative new idea, method, device, or approach that gives
a company an advantage over its competitors
 Conclusion? Innovation should have a composite definition: a
process whereby a new idea is conceived and detailed in the mind,
developed into a physical entity through detailed design, analysis,
experimentation, and production, and then introduced to give a
company a competitive edge.
 In simplest terms, however, innovation is simple change for the
better.
WHAT IS INNOVATIVE THINKING?
 A means of generating innovation to achieve two
objectives that are implicit in any good business
strategy:
 make best use of and/or improve what we have today
 determine what we will need tomorrow and how we
can best achieve it, to avoid the "Dinasaur
syndrome«
 Innovative thinking has, as a prime goal, the object of
improving competitiveness through a perceived positive
differentiation from others in:
 Design/Performance
 Quality
 Price
 Uniqueness/Novelty
WHY DO WE NEED INNOVATION?
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Almost all products follow a “life-cycle curve” having a
characteristic shape:
Conclusion? - - If a company does not continue to introduce
new products periodically, or at least significant improvements
on existing products it will eventually be on a “going out of
business” curve.
Continuing to come up with the “right” product for the market
takes a lot of innovation (plus a lot of “perspiration!”).
WHAT IS THE “RIGHT” INNOVATIVE PRODUCT?
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The right product is one that becomes available at the right
time (i.e., when the market needs it), and is better and/or
less expensive that its competition.
To have the right product, therefore, one must:
 Predict a market need
 Envisage a product whose performance and capability
will meet that need
 Develop the product to the appropriate time scale and
produce it.
 Sell the product at the right price
WHAT IS THE “WRONG” PRODUCT?
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There are, unfortunately, many examples of potentially innovative
space products being developed at the wrong time, at the wrong
price point, or due to poor market predictions:
 TV-SAT and TDF-SAT: Performance wrong (few high power
transponders when many medium/low power were needed)
 OLYMPUS: Too soon (large busses only started to become
needed some years later)
 IRIDIUM and GLOBALSTAR: Wrong market and/or too late
(development of GSM took away most of the market)
 AIRPHONE: Too expensive
CONCLUSION? Introduce only Productive Innovation
SPACE RELATED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
- THE RIGHT SET OF SKILLS 
To predict a market need, an organisation needs market analysts
 To envisage the right products for that an organisation needs
strategic thinkers and highly competent systems engineers
 To develop and produce the product, one needs highly
competent R&D specialists and software/hardware engineers
 To sell the product at the right price, an organisation needs a
highly competent and motivated sales and marketing team.
WHAT HAS SES DONE WITH THESE SKILLS?
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The creation of SES itself was highly innovative! (conventional wisdom at the
time dictated high power transponders
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SES pioneered (and still hold the record for) operating multiple satellites at a
single orbital location
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SES pioneered the introduction of digital broadcasting to an open standard
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SES introduced the first delivery in Europe of Internet via satellite (AstraNet)
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SES introduced the first use of commercial Ka-band in Europe (ASTRA1H/1K)
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SES introduced the first use of two-way access via satellite (BBI).
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HOW DO WE PROMOTE INNOVATIVE THINKING? (1/2)
 Overcome the entrenched objections to innovation:
 Fear of Innovation because, as it is based on creativity, it has a « chaotic »
connotation attached.
 Waste of resources, dead-ends etc…
 Why leave our comfortable position?
 We have always done it that way.
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 Establish an environment that encourages it
 Identified direction and (stretched) objectives
 Knowledge of the needs of the customers
 Broad knowledge of of the means to achieve change
 Adequate budget availability
 Incentives for people to take the risk
 Management acceptance of failure
 Empowerment of people to take part in the process
 Cross fertilization within the organization
 Establish an innovation promotion process including risk
analysis/reduction and IPR protection procedures.
HOW DO WE PROMOTE INNOVATIVE THINKING? (2/2)
 Knowledge of the means to achieve change: Encourage exposure to a wide variety
of ideas from many sources. Participate to conferences, workshops (like this one!),
and the ESA and EU programmes, for example, to become exposed to and to
participate to as large a number of disparate activities showing strategic potential
as is practical.
 Establish a process to foster innovation throughout the company
 Plan focused innovation for the short, medium, and long Term
 Facilitate the introduction of new innovations
 Provide the means to review all new innovations
• Is it feasible
• Does it have a favourable business case?
 Reward useful innovations
 Implement risk analysis/reduction procedures
 risk identification / measurement according to defined metrics
 alternate approaches to minimise risk
 Contingency planning
 Establish the means to evaluate and protect IPR.
 Copyright and Patent protection
 Prior art
INNOVATION SHOULD IMPROVE COMPETIVENESS
 To be competitive, an innovative idea should result in a positive
perceived differentiation to improve competitiveness.
 As a few examples will show, however, not all innovation achieves this:
SELLABLE INVENTIONS? (1/4)
SELLABLE INVENTIONS? (2/4)
SELLABLE INVENTIONS? (3/4)
SELLABLE INVENTIONS? (4/4)
SELLABLE INVENTIONS? (5/4)
OTHER POSSIBILITIES???
Battery Powered Battery Charger?
Braille TV Guide?
Fireproof Matches?
Solar Powered Flashlight?
Sugar coated Insulin btablet?
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CONCLUSION
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Innovation can be productive or wasteful. The secret to
success is being able to spot the difference in advance
and encourage the former.
This should be your goal!!
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