Innovation is a dynamic concept that needs full understanding. Its definition ranges from being “the introduction of something new,” and “a new idea, method, or device,” to being the “process of translating an idea or invention into goods or services that create value for which customers will pay,” where the idea must be “replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need.” Either way, one may infer that innovation involves novelty, utility, and economy.
In relation to the concept of innovation is that of technology. Defined as “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area” and “the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aim of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment,” technology emphasizes the application of an intangible thing into something which people may be able to utilize.
One can certainly derive from these definitions that innovation and technology are concepts which are interrelated. For one, both of them primarily implicate “utility,” or the “fitness for some purpose or worth to some end” and “something useful or designed for use.” Inventors, scientists, and researchers will most likely invest their time, effort, and skill to invent, discover, or produce something that will be apt for public consumption or use.
Aside from utility, however, one may wonder and further inquire as to the relationship between innovation and technology. Based on the preceding paragraphs, these two concepts are still separate and distinct from each other, despite their being interdependent. In other words, they seem to be mutually exclusive in every other aspect, were it not for some points of similarity, and that one is not and cannot be a catalyst to the other.
This is where we underline that it is possible that both technology and innovation may be involved in a process. On one hand, the former is a vehicle to develop the latter. The resulting innovation, in turn, delivers new technology to develop further innovation. This highlights the point that to further create and develop new products or processes, the use of existing ones becomes necessary. In relation to this, it becomes important to reiterate the definition of technology as the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area such as innovation, in this case.
Indeed, innovation requires the “deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products.” In this manner, technology comes into play as a primary force to contribute and bolster the development of cutting-edge creations as it thrives to become a distinct thing in itself, by utilizing the applied knowledge that is already available to the developers to build something that is new, useful, and economical to the public.
Another thing which should be taken into consideration anent “technology becoming a tool to develop innovation” is the inevitable “human factor.” Since innovation is a “human-centered perspective and process,” the participation and contribution of those who work in the process shall also be greatly dealt with. Thus, technology should not only focus on the development of the product or procedure itself, but should also be utilized to help in the advancement of the human factor.
To set this point vividly, one article suggests that there are actually four ways through which technology can help the human factor of an establishment become more innovative. First, communication and collaboration between teams who are far from each other shall be improved by introducing cloud and mobile devices. This is projected to assist in fostering a flexible and stimulating workplace that will motivate the team to generate modernized solutions. Secondly, inputs springing from employees shall be managed by using an idea management software that will systematize modification efforts by including tools that will allow staff members to suggest and work together on concepts; choose promising ones; and develop them into new materials or improvements in the operations. Thirdly, dashboard advancements can be utilized to track and monitor performance metrics that can better target alteration efforts by testing various state-of-the-art designs and equipment to optimize implementation. Lastly, social media evolution can likewise help in getting better feedback from clients, and analyzing these responses more effectively. This can ultimately lead to breakthroughs in product scheme, marketing, and customer relations.
After comprehensively delving on the first statement, focus shall be geared towards the second, which states that resulting innovation will give way to deliver new technology. It has been previously established that the former is synonymous with novelty, and this is an important point because it juxtaposes the entire process between the two stated concepts that consequently creates a symbiotic relationship where one benefits from the existence of the other.
On one hand, novelty brings forth a plethora of factors which will consequently give rise to innovation such as divergence, curiosity, multidisciplinary teamwork, and resilience. Divergence allows one to veer away from what has been considered as normal, usual, common, and status quo, while finding different approaches and solutions not considered before. Curiosity enables individuals to seek for explanations and come up with new views as it disregards complacency and encourages a continuous thirst for knowledge. In multidisciplinary teamwork, diversity and versatility among the individuals comprising the team are put at the forefront, thereby avoiding a “tunnel vision.” Lastly, resilience takes any failure in testing and experimenting not as a mistake but as an opportunity to learn and bounce back to adapt and thrive – therefore promoting optimism.
On the other hand, novelty conveys a higher degree of risk especially to organizations and establishments creating the so-called “revolutionary products” as these generate new markets, as compared to “evolutionary advancements” which are continuous or dynamic brought about by many incremental upgrades in automation or systems. As between these two types of innovations, revolutionary ones are inclined toward the deluge of factors discussed above and will produce a more massive effect if the benefits outweigh the risks. Evolutionary versions, however, are safer and more pragmatic, given the fact that their formation is based on existing technology or mechanisms.
At any rate, it is safe to say that technology and innovation are two distinct notions which are undeniably interrelated with one another. Whenever these two words are being talked about, a blurred line between them is produced – making it almost impossible to determine how one is actually different from the other. In this light, they should be distinguished from each other in order to allow inventors, scientists, and researchers not only to arrive at a more appropriate approach but also to fit both ideas in a continuous process of growth.
As a synthesis, it is apparent that innovations might result in new technology, but the former (can be intangible) does not equal the latter (is always tangible). More importantly, technology is a vehicle to implement innovation, but does not in itself produce innovation. On the other side of the coin, innovation can help produce new technology as the corporeal form of an idea or a physical result of the process. It may serve as a blueprint from which fresh technological infrastructure may be established that will, in turn, provide for the utility required by people's activities. Furthermore, in both processes, human factor is taken into great consideration as technology and innovation are results of ideation. Neglect of this important element in the entire equation will not only leave both technology and innovation stagnant and stale, but it may also pose some adverse effects to the detriment of the link between these two aforementioned thoughts. Thus, despite the constant birth and development of modern and cutting-edge solutions, the significance of the human factor cannot be dispensed with in any stage of the process. Hence, finding ways to constantly promote and improve such a factor will definitely deliver good results in the overall relationship between technology and innovation.