Cross Industry Innovation: How to find solutions from other industries?

 In Problem Solving

Almost every day, we see some company, a giant, specializing in its own domain, stuck in a bit of a pickle. The pickle could be some trouble with its research, its product optimization or any other area which might be hindering the company and its products/research to reach its full potential. For woes of such companies, cross-industry innovation is a remedy.

What is Cross-Industry Innovation?

Cross-industry innovation is a method where you look outside your core domain, industry, or area of expertise. You find analogous industries that are solving problems similar to yours or have already solved that problem. Pyramiding searching is a technique that can help you find analogous industries. You can learn how to use the technique here: Pyramiding Search Technique

Companies sometimes struggle while solving a research problem for which the solution can be easily adopted. Many times this challenge comes up because of the uneasy process of locating solutions from nearby or distantly related industries.

Before we talk more about it, the important question is –How to decide if you should be looking for a solution from other industry?

A clear deciding point is – if the problem lies in your core competency area, you should be researching on it and if it lies in the non-core area then a solution can be adopted from the companies that are having such a technology as their core competency.

Cross-Industry Innovation Example

In case of tobacco domain companies, we identified that they have spent a good amount of research effort on resolving the issue of power management in an e-cigarette. The image represents the amount of innovation from some of the top players (company names not shared to maintain anonymity).

Amount of innovation from some of the top players

The numbers represent the number of patents filed by them. Not much stress needs to be laid on the interest of these companies to solve the challenge of power management. All they want is to increase the life of e-cigarette after being charged which is a big problem for them as it is inconvenient for the customers to charge it again and again.

I think that you clearly deduced by now that power management or increasing battery life of the device is a new ground for big cigarette brands. Therefore, seeking a solution from different industries to their problem can turn out to be a good strategy.

In this particular case solving such a challenge is a core competency of battery manufacturing companies or companies that have already solved this problem in other consumer electronics devices.  I believe by sharing this I have not revealed a sorcerer’s spells.

But then why exploring solutions from within the other industries is less prevalent. The reason is not awareness but the untidy path that leads to locating favorable solutions in an unrelated domain. We both can agree on this – it is not that as easy as said to locate solutions in unrelated industries, relating it to the problem/challenge in your industry and then porting it to make it work in your environment. But no more it is as difficult as it was earlier.

Can North Star Help find Cross-Industry Innovation?

We have worked with many companies to solve such type of technology scouting puzzles and have helped them in reaching out to solutions from different industries.

In the example of e-cigarette manufacturers, we helped a company to explore and evaluate technologies and solutions developed by some battery manufacturers and some handheld device manufacturers that can be adopted by them.

It not only helped that cigarette manufacturer quickly to quickly shift focus to designing a better e-cigarette but also helped in changing their research strategy and shift research effort to other research areas.

In another case when we were working with a car manufacturer helping their R&D team find a solution to a problem, the desired solution was identified in the aviation industry and the portability of that solution in the environment of car manufacturer was not a big challenge. Doing so helped the car maker to quickly shift the focus to implementation side rather spending the time to research a one from scratch.

Since such type of situations is becoming more frequent with the increasing amount of research and tons of solutions being developed across the globe in a variety of industries, we thought of bringing some smartness here.  We implemented researchers thought process in a tool – NorthStar, supporting it with AI and machine learning algorithms to aid industry people with the wealth of information that can be consumed without much sweat.

Want to try your hands on it? You can let us know in that case. Click here to request a demo!

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