Process Innovations, the Unsung Heroes Who Move Products Forward
A NYT article highlights the importance of process innovation in the development of successful products. By providing examples from technology companies such as Apple, Google and Intel argues that process innovations, while highly complex and lacking glamour, are an essential part of establishing a winning edge in commercial electronics.
G. Pascal Zachary, article’s author, states that “Process innovations like Google’s computer network are often invisible to the public, and impossible to duplicate by rivals. Yet successful companies realize that maintaining competitive advantage depends heavily on sustaining process innovations. Great process innovators often support basic research in relevant fields, maintain complete control over the creation of every aspect of a product and refuse to rely on outside suppliers for important components.”
As well as David C. Mowery, a business professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says “Process innovation tends to receive less attention from the informed public for the same reason that incremental innovation tends to receive too little attention: it is more difficult to encapsulate in a press release or photo opportunity. Process innovation, even more than most product innovations, also tends to realize its economic potential through a lengthy process of incremental improvement based on learning by doing and other types of learning. So ‘breakthroughs’ in process engineering are, if anything, even rarer than in product innovation.”