The digital revolution changes the nature of innovation

The digital revolution changes the nature of innovation. One of the key characteristics of the digital revolution is that it is nurtured by a different type of innovation, increasingly based on digital technologies and on the new business models it allows. In addition to making traditional research tools more powerful, it allows for new and near-costless types of innovation that require little or no R&D effort. Examples include the digitization of existing products and processes, distributed manufacturing, blockchains, and advertising-based “free services” as well as the prospect of more “uberized” activities in multiple sectors, including transport, banking, entertainment, and education. The Network Readiness Index data show that the minds of business executives around the world are increasingly focused on innovation, as reflected by the steady upward trend in firms’ perceived capacity to innovate. Traditional measures for innovation, such as the number of patents registered, are picking up only part of the story. Instead, new types of innovation, such as business-model innovation, look set to become an important part of the innovation story: executives in almost 100 countries report increases in the perceived impact of ICTs on business-model innovation compared with last year.

Source: World Economic Forum report on The Global Information Technology 2016