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A few weeks now into my new job I’ve been asking myself and many others what they think Open Innovation is, especially in regards to SAP and our technology.
Wikipedia has the following to say on the topic, first of course from where it comes:

Open Innovation is a term promoted by Henry Chesbrough, a professor and executive director at the Center for Open Innovation at UC Berkeley, in his book Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. The concept is related to user innovationcumulative innovationKnow-How Tradingmass innovation and distributed innovation

Then what it stands for:

“Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology”. The boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable; innovations can easily transfer inward and outward. The central idea behind open innovation is that in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (e.g. patents) from other companies. In addition, internal inventions not being used in a firm’s business should be taken outside the company (e.g., through licensing, joint venturesspin-offs

It’s a very interesting concept and to be honest a rather confusing concept to many, the idea that you create something and then license it to others to actually use or that you buy the use of someone else’s idea since they are not using?
For the past several weeks as I’ve been finding my ground in my new role I’ve had many a conversation with various groups about new ideas inside of SAP that are being worked on and helping to find not only uses cases but business value with them but also looking at things we’ve seen in the past from SAP Demo Jam events and Hacker Nights and giving a lot of thought to what parts of these ideas could be interesting when applied in different ways.
It’s been an exciting time and very interesting but it’s also only part of the picture I think. I also deal with the Open Source topic as well which is address in part by the same Wikipedia entry.

While open source and open innovation might conflict on patent issues, they are not mutually exclusive, as participating companies can donate their patents to an independent organization, put them in a common pool or grant unlimited license use to anybody. Hence some open source initiatives can merge the two concepts, this is the case for instance for IBM with its Eclipse platform which IBM is advocating as a case of open innovation, where competing companies are invited to co-operate inside an open innovation network.

Therefore as you can see the last few weeks have been a mix of very interesting conversations in many overlapping areas with a multitude of thoughts and opinions on the matter and thus I decided before I “decide” what my own opinion is I’d like to ask all of you in the community – what is “Open Innovation” to you? Do you have examples of it? Can you measure it? Are you doing it?           
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  1. Vijay Vijayasankar
    After racking my brain on this – I found no good definition that made sense to me. So I am very eagerly waiting to find out what you come up with eventually. Till such time I will put it away with a tag of “buzz word”.
    1. Community User
      I can understand that, we live in a time of buzz words at the moment and of course we as people tend to hesitate to pick up another – this one though I don’t think is a “buzz” word per se but rather a description for something that has been going on within companies for several years now. I will attempt to explain my meaning and opinion there in the near future.
  2. Manas Dua
    It would be interesting to see what SAP offers for Open Innovation( What technology\ platform\ product it will present to the community to innovate on ), or is it only related to contributing\ participating in projects being run by other communities like you mentioned about Eclipse Editor.
    1. Community User
      Actually SAP is doing a lot of things in this area already and I will be touching on several as time goes by.

      I was just at an internal event in Bangalore where I shared a few things with our internal community already and will be doing the same here in the near future for our external communities.

      For those of you in SAP that do not want to wait you are welcome to contact me anytime.

      1. Manas Dua
        I was present at that event and even attended your session. It was a good presentation…looking forward to hear\ read more about Open Innovation..
  3. Ignacio Hernández
    Some years ago I tried to find a collaboration space with some collegues. In that time ( November 2006 ) I didnt know anything about Chesbrough’s book and his work.
    The idea was the creation of a free space for sharing ideas for IT innovation. Not for the implementation itself, just for ideas, with these simple rules:

    1) Anyone can share ideas in an open space.
    2) Anyone can take ideas from the open space and implement them.
    3) There is not any restriction for implementation of ideas from the open space, it could be an open source project or a patent for a new invention.

    The spirit of the open space is based in collaboration and creation, and with the feeling that the idea could not be patented or owner by anyone itself, you can own the implementation of an idea but not the idea itself.
    We are seeing now big a growth in “bussiness method” patents, if patents for ideas is a reality this proposed open space could be just an utopic space.

    I did not get too much enthusiasm in IT circles, technical people usually have some kind of participation in open source communities and bussiness people usually is looking for profitability opportunities or thinking that sharing own ideas is not possible because they could be taked by a competitor, an open space for ideas could be unnecessary in both cases.

    Surprisingly I found excellent reception in other circles, I worked for some time using software for creation of new musical instruments, I got best ideas for musicians sharing their  perceptions and feelings about new instruments, even they taked ideas for musical composition, maybe extreme “profitabilization” of IT bussiness could play a negative impact in open spaces.


    1. Community User
      Hi Ignacio,

      I think “utopia” is what you were trying for and unfortunately I don’t see it really exisiting – there are too many in the world that want “something” for their work and thus makes it a very hard thing to achieve – I think what others are describing with “Open Innovation” is probably as close to getting there as we are probably going to see.

      Have an idea – patent it, copyright it or trademark it but then allow others to use it freely or in some cases with obligations in place – nothing is really ever truly free. Even if the only thing you have to do is add the statement “credit goes to Ignacio” that obligation alone is sometimes a “cost” for some people therefore I think the best we can hope for is an environment based on transparency, honesty and a mutal desire to create innovation – let people protect their idea if they want and hopefully keep the obligations to a minimum for those wanting to use those ideas.

      In reality this is something of course that has been happening for a very long time – you were thinking along these lines in 2006 as was I and many others; I stated in another comment yes this could be seen as a buzz word but the notion of it and the desire to achieve it is very real and there are very real things happening.

      I’m hoping to help enable some of that and maybe with luck we might see some of your utopic ideas come through and some really cool things start to happen in the near future. For me this blog was my “start” – I can see you started with concrete ideas years ago so hopefully I’ll catch up to you and we can move things forward and eventually come to a central shared vision that works for everyone?



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