The Innovation “Formula”

By Fabrice Boisset
GM, Europe, Middle East, Africa Region

As I read about the many technology innovations described on the Windows Embedded blog  and on our own blog, I often wonder about what it takes to deliver a truly innovative technology solution to the market.

Is there a magic formula? For me it comes down to this – Innovation Requires New Architectures.

This is easy to say, of course, but the reality is that companies have to deal with legacy software and hardware. So, incremental change and improvements are often the easiest and least risky way to go.

This is particularly true in the real-time control world. Most customers in the Industrial Automation, Digital Audio and Medical markets, for instance, have long-term roadmaps for their products. Their approach is to build on, and capitalize on what they developed over the years.

It is difficult to criticize this safe, steady-as-you-go strategy. However we can all agree that this incremental approach makes it very difficult to deliver a “breakthrough” solution.

To deliver a breakthrough requires careful consideration of emerging technology and market trends, a willingness to re-think our existing designs, and an appetite for some level of risk.

The question is when do you move? When should you abandon incremental development and switch to a completely new architecture?

Again, the easy answer is: before the competition.

More realistically, it requires vigilance to the signs or trends in our specific markets that warn us, that it is time to think out of “our” box. Ignoring these signs can be very costly.

For me, the economic and performance opportunities presented by real-time Ethernet, multi-core, symmetric multiprocessing, and new user interfaces (multi-touch, NUI) cannot be ignored in the real-time control markets.

These technologies are available today and the companies that take advantage of them to develop innovative architectures will be winners in the market.

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