In digital innovation we conduct research, using a mix of methods, to study how the unique properties of digital technology is used to create services, products and business processes. The use of digital properties puts new demands on internal as well external innovation. The goal is to transform organizations to realize the opportunities that emerging digital technologies provide and to develop strategies to manage the challenges that occur. Important research themes are:

  • Emerging digital technologies and their implications on business processes, organisation and business models.
  • Design principles and forms for organizing and accelerating digital innovation.
  • Incumbent firms’ and start-up firms’ abilities to take advantage of the benefits from and contribute to ecosystems for digital innovation.
  • Innovation barriers that hamper different actors’ abilities to create value through digitalization.
  • Service platforms for digital service innovation with open data, so called “Open Digital Innovation”.

Unique properties of digital technology

Digital technology brings unique properties to products and services. By separating the logic from the physical form, so called generativity, digital devices can provide many reprogrammable functions. Also, by representing data in a uniform way, a digital device can handle any type of data, e.g. audio, video, text, image. This is often referred to as convergence and means that a single digital device can provide new affordances that each used to require a separate tool or service. Convergence also means that digital technology can be embedded in non-digital products, making them “smart”. Finally, digital technology is self-referencing, meaning that digital innovation requires digital technology. The effect is that diffusion of digital technology increases and entry barriers in terms of knowledge and investment cost are lowered. Which has transforming implications on individual business models and whole industries.

New types of innovation processes

The unique properties of digital technology and the structure of digital products enable new types of innovation processes that are particularly rapid and difficult to control and predict. New products and new versions of existing products can be distributed on a global scale with very short time frames. You can partner with a firm in one layer of the modular and layered product structure while competing with the same firm at another layer.

New forms for organizing innovation

Several challenges arise when mature and established industries meet the high-paced and networking software industry. As digital technology becomes embedded in the core of customer offerings and business operations, organizations find themselves being part of new business ecosystems and therefore must develop more open and distributed innovation processes. However, established organizations often find it difficult because of a legacy of closed innovation processes and hierarchical product structures. To facilitate collaboration between incumbent firms and external software developers, new forms for organizing innovation emerge, such as contests, garages and hubs.

New ways to facilitate innovation

Platforms are central to digital innovation as they enable organizations to transfer design capabilities to external actors. Platforms provide standards, such as Application Programming Interfaces, and digital resources such as Software Developer Kits. One example is Google’s developer platform for the mobile operating system Android, which supports developers in the design and development as well as the distribution and marketing of digital products.