What comes first - problem or solution? Problem is a clear winner, unless a solution is accidently developed and later used to solve a problem. At times, a solution is built and applied to known problems first, and then to increase the applicability, new problems are found. A classic example is blockchain. Blockchain was invented to create a decentralized financial institution, and is now finding applicability in areas ranging from e-contracts to universities.
Identifying the problem is as important as or rather more important than having a solution without problems. Organizations are relentlessly working on identifying and solving the problems that would impact the business.
In these organizations, there are teams that work on identifying problems and there are teams that work on developing solutions (with wide applicability). And depending on the size of the organization, these teams may not be aware of each other’s work outcomes. This mainly happens because of the lack of a platform to articulate problems and solutions across the organization.
Imagine a situation where organizations have developed solutions and do not know the wide variety of problems, which can be solved through these solutions. In another situation, there are creative minds, which have problem solving skills, and do not have a pool of problems to work on. This problem of “problems not knowing solutions and solutions not knowing the problems” calls for collaboration.
Ecosystem for identifying problems
A well-defined ecosystem will enable constant communication between the solution seekers and the solution providers. The problems worth solving can be typically found in many ways. Some of the common ways are by analyzing changing technology and domain trends, understanding business/market demand, analyzing client’s profile (client’s business, diagnosing balance sheet, interviews with decision makers etc.), client escalations/patterns of escalations/stated-unstated pain points, patterns in RFPs( Request for Proposals), etc (See figure 1).
Figure 1: How to identify problems
Once definitive steps are taken to identify the problems from various channels, it is essential to find solutions that solve the problems, and sustain a problem-solving ecosystem on the principle of collaboration. Isolated problem-solution may not lead to the expected results.
Ecosystem for solution development
Organizations majorly build solutions in-house (termed as Organic IP). However, when external (Open Innovation) help is taken, organizations gain advantage over their competitors and, are able to quickly solve problems, and also, venture into new markets. Building additional capabilities with the help of an external ecosystem helps an organization gain new grounds (See Figure 2). The solution ecosystem must contain external entities such as start-ups, universities, co-innovation with clients/partners, and investment in ventures.
Figure 2: Leveraging Open innovation
A marketplace platform for problem & solution management
It is essential to have a common platform where all the problems and solutions are posted, managed, and made accessible throughout the organization (See figure 3).
A marketplace platform will enable:
Figure 3: Marketplace platform for problems and solutions
Apart from managing problems and solutions, this platform will also have the capability to allow all the stakeholders from both the ecosystems to come together and have a dialogue. This platform will allow the clients to post challenges and relevant stakeholders to deliver solutions. It will also allow the partners from open innovation ecosystem to participate and contribute.
In a nutshell, this platform will have the following capabilities/functions:
As shown in figure 4, an organization may have problems (P1) identified from various sources as shown in figure 1. Also, there would be solutions (S1) developed organically or developed in collaboration with external ecosystem. In the first iteration (X1), the platform would match the problems and solutions based on their context. This match would enable business teams to pitch appropriate solution for a given problem. However, there would be few problems (P2) which may not have solutions, and there would be few solutions (S2) which may not have all the use cases/problems identified. Therefore, these problems (P2) and solutions (S2) can be crowdsourced (C) to develop the solutions (S3) and identify use cases/ problems (P3) respectively. Now, in the second iteration (X2), there will be new solutions for the identified additional problems and new use cases/ problems for the additional solutions, which can be taken to market. These iterations will bring in significant non-linear revenue
Figure 4: What the marketplace platform will enable
Consumerizing innovation via marketplace platform
The platform has the capability to change the way IP innovation is consumed in the future. Let us look at the possibilities of this platform.
Solve immediate problems at hand
The platform has the capability to allow clients to articulate burning issues/problems. The platform will first recommend available solutions to address such problems (if it is a known problem), else, the platform would open the problem to a larger audience to find an appropriate solution in reasonable time.
Solutions that meet the requirement
Compiling a solution in a large organization is a tedious task. It generally goes through the cycle of disaggregation and aggregation, and calls for connecting with various stakeholders to stitch bits and pieces to make a solution. This process takes up a lot of the bandwidth. This platform will do away such tedious tasks. One would have to just login to the platform and search for the requirement, and the platform would show all relevant solutions.
Build a solution on the fly
The platform will allow building a solution on the fly. One can have all the relevant components based on the requirement and then stitch a solution by selecting the relevant IPs.
Correlates existing solutions based on cognitive intelligence
Correlation of solutions would help in many ways. For example, if one is looking for a development solution and because the correlation has been established, the platform will know that every development project may also have testing activity and it would intuitively recommend the testing solution.
Stacks IP assets based on the domain, technology, IT services and business function
The platform will enable browsing through the IP assets based on technology or business function or IT services to look for the relevant solutions. The platform has the capability to create stacks and add new solutions coming its way into the relevant stacks.
Developing solutions is certainly important. However, consuming the solutions rightly is also important. Also, without identifying and articulating the problems, achieving optimum solution consumption is not possible. Managing the problems and solutions on a single platform, gives better visibility into where the organization is heading.
Santosh Rajnale - Consultant – IP Portfolio Strategy, Wipro Ltd
Santosh is an Innovation Consultant with expertise in Intellectual Property Management. He has also worked extensively in IP Commercialization and Valuation.
Rajashree Ramapure - Consultant – IP Portfolio Strategy, Wipro Ltd
Rajashree is a Design Thinker and Innovation Consultant and an expert in designing and implementing organization wide change management programs to drive innovation. She has expertise in developing value propositions to cater to direct/indirect business needs.
Mandar Vanarse - General Manager - IP Portfolio Strategy, Wipro Ltd
Mandar is a Strategist, Enterprise Architect and Design Thinker.