2019 WEF Panel Considers the Future of Product Innovation in Tech

“Thinking about the future of product innovation,” noted Saikat Chaudhuri in his introduction to a January 23 panel at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, “oftentimes we get caught up in the technology. And the technology is an important part, but in addition we have to think about the strategic and organizational aspects which help these technologies realize their potential.”

The Future of Product Innovation panel, moderated by Chaudhuri, took a look at how innovation itself has changed in recent years and how it might continue to evolve. He noted a widespread “shift to the services side,” that has forced companies to adapt to a new landscape and make changes to both their business models and capabilities. The panelists, drawn from the senior leadership of tech companies based in the U.S., South Africa, and India, emphasized the importance of maintaining a clear strategic direction by defining the purpose behind product and company.

As an example of recent changes, the panel observed that enterprise software has shifted from a “waterfall process,” in which companies could not release software too quickly, to a pace that compels organizations to iterate on innovations much more quickly. This is a fundamentally different way of thinking about the business, noted panelist Murray Rode, CEO of TIBICO. “Development methodologies change, marketing to the customer changes, and your relationship to the customer changes.”

Panelists noted that it is important to be forward-thinking and cultivate agility in the changing environment. However, they also advised that it is just as important to invest in leadership and in the people who show purpose and talent. Ultimately, they concluded, in an age where organizations either disrupt or get disrupted, companies must define their purpose, be open to critique, and be ready to adapt to this ever-increasing pace of product innovation.