Open Innovation is the Future of Work

Striving to make a dent in the universe is no longer an unattainable thing. In fact, the way most firms are doing it these days is through a concept called open innovation. Dubbed the most ingenious thing since sliced bread, some of the most successful companies today have abided by the model of open innovation; one which breaks the mood and keeps them leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

In a nutshell, open innovation is a mindset - rather than a fleeting trend - characterised by its belief that great ideas can come from anywhere. It takes various forms, and spans a multitude of different industries including healthcare, IT, business models, public policy, and media. The world has been premised on the long-held notion that companies should rely solely on their own internal research and keep their well-guarded secrets behind closed doors. Open innovation disrupts this status quo, resolute on the significant benefits that innovating with partners and out-of-the-box thinking can bring.

In a way, it takes a transcendent approach to the "in sickness and in health, till death do us part" vow. From sharing the successes and shouldering the risks, open innovation weds innovation and collaboration - be it amongst individuals, between companies or within public agencies. For example: The work that Unilever Foundry is doing with collaborative co-working space LEVEL3. Unilever Foundry's involvement with the startups at LEVEL3 highlights their understanding to address existing problems that plight our society. By focusing on redefining corporate innovation and collaborations within the startup ecosystem, Unilever Foundry adopts a new business model to passionately solve problems, intrinsically putting consumers at the heart of the innovation process.

Natural to any form of collaboration, open innovation has its downsides - Just ask Apple and Samsung. Though their collaboration spawned large data figures and racked up a slew of innovative services, they were embroiled in masses of infringement issues and innovation-shortfall lawsuits in 2013.

Regardless, the perks of open innovation far outweighs its drawbacks; helping companies achieve tremendous market success, solve problems with ingenious solutions, and challenge their competitiveness. Open innovation impacts every company differently, and aids them in achieving different goals by leveraging upon the strengths of their capabilities. Here are our favourite reasons to innovate:

TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE

To quote Star Trek on this one, startups have the luxury of starting afresh and push the boundaries of creativity, especially with the freedom to focus their efforts on the right products, consumers and creatives. Though it can be a bugbear to start from scratch, there is a sense of personal freedom and self-liberation by being able to create something new, to test new waters and to go where no man has gone before.

BUILDING A SOLID COMMUNITY

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are fantastic examples of how a company can engage their community using open innovation. Open innovation pushes the boundaries of creativity, and at the same time allows a company to truly understand the needs, wants, passions and ideas of their enthusiastic community. This is an experiential relationship that mere surveys and demographic analytics simply cannot provide. By nurturing these relationships, companies can greatly strengthen their community clan, all off which working towards making your cause a reality.

REVIVING TECHNICAL OBSOLESCENCE

Despite what Elon Musk said about his First Principle, it can be cool to improve upon existing products. Just as how Listerine was first invented as a surgical antiseptic, taking an older and more back-dated idea and transforming it into something revolutionary. One of the best things about open innovation is that it's a never-ending process, evolving and adapting with each obstacle and hurdle presented.

Christina Oh