By Louis Witters, Kurt Steinert, Revital Marom, Alcatel-Lucent’s Market and Consumer Insight.
For most of us in the corporate world, our professional lives revolve around the bottom line – selling to and serving customers. Occasionally, we have the opportunity to devote our attention to another key pursuit – innovation. In the telecom world, innovation generally involves identifying technical breakthroughs, and developing and marketing new products that build on those innovations.
Sometimes, however, we get a chance to truly innovate. We had recently the opportunity to explore the idea of innovation in a much bigger way than just creating and marketing new products and services. We participated for the second year as a ‘knowledge partner’ in the creation of the Global Innovation Index (GII), in collaboration with INSEAD, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and others.
Today in Geneva (July 3, 2012) is the launch of the fifth edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII). Business leaders, academicians, diplomats and media from around the world will attend this event, including Jeong Kim, the president of Bell Labs who is participating in a roundtable discussion at the event.
Watch today’s press conference with INSEAD Professor Soumitra Dutta:
We will not spend time here explaining what the GII is (and you can read all about it here + the report and infographics) – what is more important is to understand why we think a company like Alcatel-Lucent should be involved in such a project. Alcatel-Lucent is a global company with employees all over the world, which makes us in effect a global citizen. The GII is one of the places where we can exercise this role as a global citizen, dig deeper into innovative ideas and work closely together on common objectives with other global players – with the publishers (INSEAD and WIPO) and with the other knowledge partners (Booz & Company and the Confederation of Indian Industry).
Our involvement with the GII is twofold, both as an active participant in the development of the index itself and as a commentator exploring important subjects related to the GII. This involvement is a deep, ongoing engagement.
In terms of our engagement with the GII methodology, immediately after the launch of the GII 2011 last June, we started to work with our partners on the 2012 edition. As part of the process we explored whether we should introduce new, novel components to the index. We quickly learned, however, that proposing changes to the index and coming forward with new indicators was the easy part; the difficult part however was to find reliable and coherent data that could support the innovation indicators for over 140 countries. We recognized that the GII and related analysis cannot be built on shaky or incomplete data. A lot of discussions and late evening meetings went into this, but at the end of the day, we had to decide on indicators based on what is available in terms of trustworthy and reliable information. For example, we added the “Online Creativity” dimension in the GII 2012, but finding data for 140 countries to cover these indicators was, frankly, a bit of a nightmare. There is quite a lot of data available on the Internet, but most of it is outdated or not updated regularly, which are basic conditions to consider their inclusion within the index. These are the kinds of challenges that only close, ongoing engagement with the process can reveal.
Another of our roles as knowledge partner for the GII 2012 edition was to provide a chapter exploring the theme of this year’s index – ‘Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth’. We opted to conduct an analysis of the role of public-private partnerships in innovation. Why? Because this ‘ancient’ model of collaboration between public sectors and private industries has an important role to play in addressing – in novel ways – some of the biggest challenges that cities, nations and entire regions are facing today. Writing this paper gave us the chance to step away from our technical roots and to highlight the fact that innovation is about more than technical breakthroughs.
Innovation in today’s societies is about collaboration, about forming the sometimes seemingly impossible linkages between companies, industries, and public institutions to address challenges and opportunities that reach far beyond the scope or capability of any individual organization. This means also that the role of companies – like ours – is changing from providing just products and services to collaborative, innovative working with all sorts of players, including public and non-profit sectors.
And just because the GII is now published, that doesn’t mean the work is done. In a sense, the GII is really just the starting point for broader exploration of critical topics. Alcatel-Lucent’s Market and Consumer Insight organization, in cooperation with researchers from Bell Labs, is developing a tool to make the GII data more easily accessible for company employees to use in discussions with customers, policymakers and others, and we are exploring ways that this tool could be made available to everyone. To learn more about the GII and associated tools and analysis, keep an eye on Alcatel-Lucent’s Market and Consumer Insight website.