Innovation Opportunities for 2014

Innovation Predictions for 2014

Where will you innovate next year?

We wish each and every one of you a very happy and healthy New Year, and we thank you for your participation this year in Innovation Excellence.

The IX team is a small community dedicated to serving the larger global innovation practitioner community.   A number of us got together (virtually!) the Friday before Christmas and talked on Lea Carey’s radio show —  and looked back on Innovation in 2013 and looked forward at the opportunities for 2014. You can listen to the conversations here at, or here:, or scan the highlights below.

Listen Now to Innovation Opportunities for 2014 Radio Show

We invite all of you to weigh in on what you think the big opportunities are…or anything else you want to share!

2013 Reflections

The forces at work – especially the disruptions — in the global economy continued to drive the necessity for innovation. Here are some of the highlights from our conversations:

ROWAN GIBSON, Co-Founder @rowangibson
The old ways of differentiating companies (service, quality, product) aren’t working and won’t work in the future.  Leaders, managers, frontline, customers, suppliers are all realizing this. It’s a perfect storm.

BRADEN KELLEY, Co-Founder @innovate
People were hungry for information about innovation and what makes innovation successful. That’s driving more innovation education, more conversation, more community.  As our culture and society march forward, organizations realize they have to move forward too.   We also saw the beginning of social overload – people are turning away…and right-sizing their lives on social networks, putting even more emphasis on meaningful connection.

DEAN DEBIASE, Co-Founder @deandebiase

Mobile Experience Design (MX) by and for the people came on strong. Though mobilizing the Enterprise may not drive sexy headlines, it’s pivotal to become more agile, innovative and competitive. You can enhance product functionality by embedding mobile into and around what you offer; brands will begin to better design MX into their products and will extend their capabilities and reach. And for brands that don’t move away from broadcast-centric mindsets, driving customer engagement will continue to be a challenge.

Just as we start adopting the latest trends, like mobile, another, like wearable environment-aware devices, comes barreling down the hill. Theses shiny objects can actually be distractions to professionals thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how to leverage the capabilities of next-gen wearables, drivables and flyables. It’s important to be on top of developing trends, but often the ROI takes a while to catch up with actionable results that innovators need.

LEA CAREY, Digital and Health Care Lead @thehealthmaven
Companies and individuals have latched on to Co-Creation!  Drawing frameworks around knowledge communities to make co-creation effective was a key learning for us in the Model H project with Kevin Riley and Batterii — where we used the Business Model Canvas with very cool results which we’ll be sharing.

LYNDA KOSTER, Integrator, Global Innovation Certification Lead @LyndaKoster
The Maker Movement is growing — so is participation in crowd funding and betas.
Mobile is continuing to reshape our behaviors and expectations .  Knowledge sharing through local meet-ups, experiences (those worth traveling for!)  Growth in freelance / gig economy
Access to learning through MOOCs, apps and online platforms.

DOUG WILLIAMS, Chief Research Officer @DougWilliamsMHD
Innovation officially became a buzzword in 2013.  Yet, there are multiple definitions of innovation in teams, organizations and among each of us.   That disparity gets in the way of productive collaboration, and requires aligning up front.

JULIE ANIXTER, Co-founder, Executive Editor @julieanixter

It seems like the Global Economy disrupted everyone and everything this past year.  And it’s clear that disruption will continue.  In fact it’s becoming a sub-discipline in and of itself…no matter how many CEO’s resist it.  What I love about the work of innovation, and the word itself, is that it is code for hope, growth, finding your voice, and possibility.   Everyone is rethinking and restructuring.  GM is an exemplar — they did that through a very tough time and have “resurrected” — and they have a new female CEO. Inspiring!

2014 Innovation Opportunities: Our Predictions on the Global Hot Spots

1. When it comes to innovation, we’ve entered the ‘human moment’

The real opportunities are in making things more human and more natural. We’re seeing that we’ve poisoned our own food supply. GMO’s are no longer allowed in Europe – increasing focus on the state of our food. There are many good and bad things going on…Food allergies are becoming better understood…we’ll see things like Gluten Free go mainstream. Will Denny’s or iHop have the first Gluten Free pancakes? The race is on! We will see more an increasing variety of what’s natural and good for a long happy and productive life.

2. The organizations that will win in next 20-30 years – don’t exist to sell but to serve people

Companies will transform themselves to be human-centered. They’ll work hard to build trust, they’ll work harder to find what they have permission to sell.

3. Entrepreneurial Movements that bring big and small together to accelerate growth and innovation

There’s an Entrepreneurial-Innovation movement sweeping the globe. Unlike previous ones, reserved for exclusive corners of the world like Silicon Valley, this democratized movement has the ability to transform the prosperity of every city, county and industry sector over the next few years.

At the same time corporate innovation is broken, with many multi-national chief executives’ complaining about the “talk-to-do” ratio, of their employee’s and innovation partners, being way out-of-whack. CEO’s tell us that they find the “innovation execution layer” to be the most troubling and are looking for new models that deliver at the pace and scale their brands need to grow. That’s a key reason the bigger companies, like GE will be dancing more frequently with start-ups, like Quirky.

4. We’ve hit the wall on creating technologies and throwing a user interface on it – next gen innovation will be about the interface

Voice control, gesture control, funny to watch kids think that every screen is a touch screen. Adoption will occur because our devices will learn us.

5. When you put data into one device it will be available in another – networked, cloud, connected will become the expectation

i-Cloud is just the beginning!

BETA - Global Innovation Management Institute certification

6. Cities will become an even bigger focal points for innovation

Because they have to, and because innovation is not just digital, it’s physical, place and neighborhood-based. From the Center for Community Progress, which focuses on turning vacant spaces into vibrant places, to GE, IBM, Cisco and many others’ focus on the internet of things there will be more drive towards making smart connected cities a reality and a driver of economic growth.  We are piling on to a trend that has been gaining momentum for years – Brookings Institute and Bruce Katz’s Metropolitan Revolution describes the power shift beautifully, the Rockefeller Resilient Cities Challenge and many others address it in great depth.

7. Deeper experimentation for businesses and customers

Beyond the topics of data, mobile, location and context …we will see an increase in business model and marketing EXPERIMENTATION as benchmarks for success continue to change, customer behavior and expectations change.  As businesses realize the power, potential and value of our creative customers and communities …they will work harder to listen to them.
We are living in a time where we having to learn and unlearn at the same time!

8. Relationships are the next frontier of innovation

Innovation requires commitment and investment – which doesn’t happen without very strong and trusting relationships. Luis Solis, president of Imaginatik said recently at the Chief Innovation Conference in NYC,  “if you’re not friends with your CFO ,and you don’t have at least 2 years of investment, you’re in trouble.”  Beyond internal connection we also predict the rise of more human, more natural communications in the experiences, interactions and communications that organizations create with their employees and customers.   Being sold at is so…yesterday.

9. The definition of collaboration will expand, multiply and end up being customized

Collaboration is as fundamental a human activity as cooking, dancing or playing games.  The notion of working together across silos and time zones and in meaningful ways, and allowing new partnerships to emerge to drive growth, even in what may seem like competitive situations will continue to bear fruit.  Collaboration helps create new business models and disrupt tired ones.   One watch out – leaders will have to be careful to differentiate and not dismiss approaches out of hand. Collaboration, co-creation, open innovation is not the flavor of the year, or a good idea for a project here or there. It’s now part of the way we work…effectively…with customers, suppliers and stakeholders.  It’s an ethos that is not going away.

10. Kids!

Kids – and we’re talking K-8, are brilliant. They have a lot more to offer than we give them credit for…if you put them in the room with scientists, engineers, designers they have a contribution to make.  They are natural innovators.  And, they are our future.

But the global education system does not allow or encourage the development of mastery in creativity, inventing, collaborating, exploring. Whether it’s Gever Tulley’s amazing Tinkering School, or the Connecticut Invention Convention this is the most important work for the future, and we ignore it at our peril.

Our vision at Innovation excellence is to make innovation more human: to increase awe at the diversity of innovation in every walk of life – by going deeper into specific disciplines, and improving economic opportunities for businesses and individuals. Innovation is real. Innovation is a discipline.

Happy New Year!

Julie Anixter and Braden Kelley  –  and the IX Team

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Julie Anixter is Executive-in-Residence at the Disruptor Foundation, and the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. She’s co-chaired the Back End of Innovation two years running. She also serves as Chief Innovation Officer of Maga Design, a leading visual information mapping firm.The co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on courage and innovation. She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military, Healthcare, Manufacturing and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference.

Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He has recently begun distributing Innovation eLearning and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden Kelley is a co-founder of Innovation Excellence. He tweets from @innovate.

Julie Anixter and Braden Kelley




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