The ability to take innovations to market quickly and successfully is more important than it has ever been with respect to how companies safeguard their competitive edge and fuel growth. As globalization intensifies, particularly medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) find themselves in situations where they have no choice but to react to a change in circumstances. But many SMEs have limited resources, so planning and methodically picking up on opportunities – and fending off threats – presents the challenge of how to manage innovations as efficiently as possible. A variety of studies show that it is worth taking on this challenge: SMEs that use systematic innovation management reduce “times to market” by 25%. The Steinbeis Transfer Institute of Management and Internationalization, which belongs to Steinbeis University Berlin, now offers a toolkit that makes it possible to gauge the innovative capability of medium-sized enterprises quickly, precisely and efficiently.
SMEs approach innovation very differently from larger companies. They are typically less systematic and have less continuation, although they lean particularly toward investments in new technology. This results in incremental renewal and constantly challenges companies with fundamental questions: “How can I acquire new customers and how can I develop new markets for my products and services?”; “Will I manage to put the right resources in place and develop the ability to gain and maintain competitive advantage and USPs?”; “Which innovations should I invest in in the future?” But at the same time, globalization offers so many opportunities to achieve additional growth by accessing new regional markets or customer segments, or by identifying new suppliers and strategic alliances.
The Steinbeis toolkit helps decision-makers determine their competitive standing. The results make it possible to make comparisons with other German or international companies in the same industry or across different industries. Based on this, other tools can be used to develop specific actions. This involves techniques such as technology scouting, foresight management, scenario setting, environmental scanning, trend evaluations and road-mapping. A series of workshops then help the company generate the right data and online tools are used to analyze and graph the results in a clear and condensed format.
The tool brings a variety of benefits to medium-sized enterprises in that it:
Comprehensive documentation is provided, detailing the results of the analysis and actions which can also be used as rock-solid arguments for bidding or funding processes.
The analysis brings added benefits to companies involved in banking, with meaningful KPIs to provide a solid foundation for funding or an investment in an alternative target company. The assessment also shows the strengths and weaknesses of current or potential portfolio companies, with benchmarks to compare companies in different countries and sectors of industry. It also provides insights on the ability of managers to drive innovations forward and implement them.
The toolkit can help political decision-makers and managers of networks or business clusters use public funding more effectively, to select appropriate companies to join networks or clusters, and to measure the innovation performance of different industries, or the age or size of groups in different regions.