Marketing: The trump card of innovation

Collaboration – February 15, 2011

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It could take the form of incremental innovation (the gradual enhancement of a product over time) or it could take the form of radical innovation (going from telephone to Internet), whatever shape it takes, innovation is essential for today’s businesses.

While perusing the blog from ADRIQ (Association De la Recherche Industrielle au Québec / Quebec’s Industrial Research Association), I came upon a blog post about innovation in Québec. I was surprised to find an image of an iceberg used to describe industrial R&D structures.

I was surprised because it was the same image used by one of my University teachers to position strategic marketing in the grand scheme of marketing practices. Strategic marketing in that course was illustrated as the visible part of the iceberg, while operational marketing (and all its related components) was the submerged part of the iceberg.

Both Innovation and Marketing have the same hidden depths of long hours of work beneath the surface of what others perceive.

The way I see it, this is not only an analogy: the role of marketing is to drive company innovation (innovation pull) and to control it (innovation push). The parts of the R&D iceberg and the parts of the marketing iceberg should therefore be common.

Without questioning the quality of this on-line document, I was however surprised by the quasi-absence of the word marketing. Of course, on many occasions, the cooperation between market and innovation is mentioned as a key factor for innovation success.

Marketing absolutely plays its part in industrial innovation and its involvement should not be summed-up as a market study that proves or disproves the synchronicity between the two elements. Marketing must be fully involved in a businesses innovation strategy. Industrial R&D must work in concert and form a couple like “Sales/Marketing” in order to guarantee future successful innovation strategies.

However, let’s not delude ourselves, things are never this simple: here again, just like with sales and marketing, innovation and marketing could be considered as two different species occupying the same environment.

 

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