A recent study by Imaginatik Research touts the concept of an Opportunity Pipeline for connecting corporate objectives to innovation. Some companies, upon discovery of a revenue growth gap, “embark on one-off innovation initiatives with the goal of boosting their pipeline of new products and services.” The problem here is that “innovation-on-demand” solutions rarely work over the long term and have the potential to distract companies from their core business. A better approach is to develop an Opportunity Pipeline—a portfolio of business opportunities that will close the gap over time. These opportunities are not just new technologies or product lines—they may entail a novel marketing approach, new process capability, new markets or something else. “The world’s best companies deliberately look for opportunities outside of core product (but still within the scope of the business), and innovate across a spectrum of corporate activities,” says Imaginatik cofounder and CEO Mark Turrell. The key here is tailoring the size of the Opportunity Pipeline to the capabilities of the company, and then holding business units accountable for developing, sustaining and executing on the opportunities. “This connection, the link between growth targets and the creation of business opportunities, is the driver behind the best innovation programs,” says Turrell.
Priming the opportunity pipeline