Innovation Ecosystem Sustainability: Good for Business, Great for Earth

“Innovation ecosystem sustainability” is a mouthful. Fortunately, it’s not as challenging to implement as it sounds. Often, businesses are hesitant to implement environmental sustainability strategies for fear of sacrificing company resources in the process.

The truth is that sustainability in innovation benefits the company and the environment simultaneously. Let’s explore the impact and importance of innovation ecosystem sustainability.

 

What is an innovation ecosystem?

Let’s begin by breaking down the term “innovation ecosystem sustainability.” In other words, what the hell is an innovation ecosystem? In short, an innovation ecosystem refers to a network of organizations that evolve together. Typically, each entity shares similar skills, industry knowledge, and technologies. They leverage their unique abilities to cooperatively (yet competitively) encourage innovation. 

 

What Is Innovation Ecosystem Sustainability?

For companies with an open innovation program in place, the collaborative concept above is nothing new. You may even have a thriving ecosystem of innovative individuals within your organization. However, innovation ecosystem sustainability requires innovation leaders to take it to the next level—expand those efforts outside the company walls to benefit the community and the environment rather than just the business. Don’t worry, work-from-home people. These walls are metaphorical. You won’t actually need to go outside until your Uber Eats arrives.

What Are the Three Characteristics of Sustainable Innovation?

At rready, our innovation experts align efforts with environmental, social, governance (ESG) criteria whenever possible. ESG is a set of standards for company operations that values social consciousness, environmentalism, and transparency. Most commonly, ESG standards are used by investors to measure the risk they’d be assuming by associating themselves with a particular company. It also helps investors make smarter decisions regarding the morality of their business partnerships. In this context, the three characteristics of sustainable innovation are:

  1. Environmental conservation.
  2. Social inclusion. 
  3. Equitable governance. 

For more information about aligning your innovation strategy with ESG standards, check out our previous article, “ESG Sustainability Strategy: Your Guide to Mindful Innovation Management.

 

How Does Innovation Help With Sustainability?

The primary goal of open innovation is to create value by empowering employees. Once you’ve achieved the cultural shift necessary to motivate and facilitate innovation, areas of improvement become areas of opportunity for sustainable business practices. Let’s examine an example of how an innovation initiative can improve sustainability in a company. 


Problem:

Suppose your company’s CRM sucks. Employees tend not to fill out the proper information because the user interface is unfriendly or requires them to print and scan copies. Clients have complained that the wait time for agent assistance is too long. 

Solution:

Your innovation program recently hosted a company-wide challenge, and the person with the best idea for addressing CRM pain points will be rewarded. Employees in the customer service department flood your office with ideas like:

  • What if we introduced automation to the CRM in the form of a chatbot? Then, it could record information about the user and route them to the proper department for assistance. 
  • Is there a platform we can use to input and store customer data that will allow us to go paperless? Paper copies aren’t eco-friendly, and it’s tough for team members in other companies to locate files. 

Just like that, you’ve collected ideas that will address environmental concerns, make cross-departmental collaboration easier, and create a better user experience for customers using the CRM. Now imagine what you could accomplish on a larger scale, in an innovation ecosystem that boasts the contributions of academia or expertise of a software-industry partner. 

 

How Does an Innovation Ecosystem Work?

Industry leaders in innovation may differ in their approaches to innovation ecosystem sustainability. Some may not even address innovation ecosystem sustainability at all (yikes!) At rready, we facilitate collaborative innovation by uniting each entity that uses our innovation management solution, the KICKBOX. We achieve innovation ecosystem sustainability by providing the tools and platform companies need to streamline their processes without burning through resources. 

Building a Community

Our KICKBOX innovation ecosystem led to the birth of the public transportation sustainability campaign by Switzerland Tourism, Swiss Railway Company, and Swiss Travel System. It aims to lessen the environmental impact of business processes and help public transportation users create eco-friendly habits. Collaborating with major partners and combining resources through rready’s innovation ecosystem allowed these companies to meld and move their ideas through the innovation pipeline successfully. 

Strengthening Innovation Culture

Community and inclusivity are integral to open innovation. By decentralizing the innovation process, companies can begin to align with the social aspect of ESG through employee and consumer outreach. Then, the innovation ecosystem comes into play to extend those values outside of the organization. 

Uniting innovative companies and providing them with a platform for effective collaboration helps them reach communities outside of their inner circle. Thus, establishing the company’s place in the market and identifying opportunities to build mutually beneficial relationships, like academic-industry collaborations

 

Join our Innovation Ecosystem!

Alright, we talked the talk. Are you ready to walk the walk? 

If you are rready to learn more about achieving innovation ecosystem sustainability, Contact Us or schedule a demo below if you're rready to hit the ground running.
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