Digitalization forces you to transform your approach to innovation. For the last 20 years, our economies have been moving from “atoms” to “bits,” to use Nicholas Negroponte’s definition of “being digital”. In this digital environment, traditional R&D-driven approaches to innovation are beginning to fail.

A key reason for the failure of traditional approaches to deal with innovation in a digital context is the assumption that technological change is linear. This is a risky assumption. Digital change is ultimately driven by computing power. As Gordon Moore observed many years ago (and the likes of Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis keep pointing out), the change of computing power is exponential.

This exponential reality translates into ever-faster computing power at ever-lower cost; quantum computing will keep this momentum going for many years to come. Computing power is the force behind technological changes like 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, genetics, biotech, fintech, smart energy, connected cars, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. These technological changes will nourish each other. They will impact your business dramatically in the years ahead. Your organization’s survival requires a radically different approach to innovation: transformational innovation.

Transformational vs incremental innovation

Transformational innovation affects the customer experience across the entire value chain. Innovation is as much about business process design and business model adjustment as it is about product/service enhancements and efficiency improvements. Your innovation initiatives can’t be a technology project but must be part of your overall digital transformation effort.

Your innovation maturity will affect your chances of succeeding in your digital transformation endeavor. Traditional incremental innovation merely creates point improvements. Only transformational innovation will deliver digital transformation success. Transformational innovation aims to change the problem by shifting perspectives and transforming your innovation culture for today’s digital reality.

Detecting and overcoming your innovation gaps is therefore critical. Before you can improve your innovation strategy, you must understand the strengths and weaknesses of your innovation capabilities. My new report, Assess Your Innovation Capability Maturity, offers an Innovation Maturity benchmark that assesses the status of your current innovation capabilities. It helps you create a framework to plan, run, and improve your innovation activities.