The massive opportunity of open innovation for mid-tier firms


I recently gave the keynote at an American Express function for CFOs of mid-tier firms. I wrote before about the event in a post on the central role of CFOs in innovation and future-proofing in mid-tier firms.

The video below nicely summarizes highlights from the event, including some excerpts from my speech from 1:38.

One of the issues I discussed was the potential of open innovation.

Many of the world’s largest organizations, such as the US Department of Defence, Procter & Gamble and IBM are avid proponents of open innovation.

Despite their extraordinary in-house resources they recognize the necessity of going outside to tap literally an entire world of ideas and innovation.

As shown in the study done by Amex, mid-tier firms often feel that they lack the resources of large organizations and the nimbleness of startups.

Yet equally this could be turned around to be seen as having more flexibility than corporations, and more resources than startups and small companies.

Open innovation levels the playing field. Smaller and mid-sized companies can tap global resources equally as well as large organizations. They no longer need extensive in-house resources, but can compete better than they have ever been able to before.

Certainly there is much to learn in doing open innovation well, but these are the core competencies that will drive organizations’ future success. Certainly CFOs but also all other senior executives of mid-tier firms need to engage on the journey of finding innovation from outside.

This will bring them alongside – or often beyond – large companies that are burdened on over-reliant on their internal resources.