In the world of complex, multidimensional products, innovation takes place at several levels.
First, innovation takes place in the act of conceiving an idea for solving a pressing, complex problem. The recurrence of breast cancer after a lumpectomy. Chronic pain. Gaps in connectivity for first responders and remote communities. Better management of energy consumption in the home. And so on. The solutions usually involve combining emerging and existing technologies in novel ways, such as using a viewer powered by artificial intelligence to detect previously invisible cancer cells.
Second, innovation occurs in the creation of adjacent or connected services that make the product more valuable and usable.
Turning a coffee maker into the nexus of a global community of coffee roasters is one example. Peloton’s revolutionary vision of connecting exercise bike riders to a community, along with instructors and premium content, is another.
Finally, innovation can be found in the orchestration of production across multiple suppliers and contract manufacturers. The creation of agile and collaborative global supply chains, a challenge under the best of circumstances, is a “hidden” innovation—invisible to the consumers that are its direct beneficiaries, but critical to the development and delivery of products.
In this report, we will look at product innovation through the lens of companies bringing complex, multifaceted products to the world. Some of these products save lives; others make life more sustainable and enjoyable. What all these companies have in common is a commitment to serving their customers and succeeding as businesses. Innovation, after all, is not an end in itself.