The digital industrial revolution has changed the world in profound ways — and it’s far from over. A global digital society infrastructure continues to expand, fueled by increasing digitalization of data, ubiquitous connectivity, decreasing computing costs and readily available storage.
In this environment of ever-evolving technology, innovation gives rise to more innovation, providing more and more component parts that can lead to the development of even more digital innovation. The result is a continual creation of new markets, new services and even new industries.
Combinatorial digital innovation is the practice of using components of different digital technologies and trends together to uncover new or better value
For the most part, it’s startups that embrace multistack innovation combining multiple emerging technologies. Larger enterprises, however, tend to invest in emerging technologies in isolation. As a result, they’re missing the opportunity to seize the technological advantage of combinatorial digital innovation that startups enjoy.
“Combinatorial digital innovation is the practice of using components of different digital technologies and trends together to uncover new or better value. To do it effectively, three actions must be taken: Combine, cluster and complement,” says Rajesh Kandaswamy, Gartner VP Analyst.
“First, combine suitable technologies and trends. At the same time, cluster emerging technologies and trends that fit naturally together. And finally, complement initiatives with emerging technologies that can have an impact on secondary areas."
Although each of these three actions is distinct, all need to be applied together to create a greater ability for cross-pollination and, ultimately, greater innovation. Here’s a quick breakdown of each.
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Combine: Find suitable combinations of technologies and trends for a business domain
In this scenario, rather than trying to look at one technology to solve a given business issue, look for combinations of technologies and trends that are suitable in a domain. The fundamental question for CIOs to ask themselves is “What are the top combinations of technologies that can create the most value in my business area?”
This determines where to allocate resources for innovation and experimentation, and leads to testing the best way to exploit emerging technologies, rather than only seeing how an emerging technology can support an existing process.