What is technological innovation?
On the basis that innovation can be understood as the use of knowledge to create new products, services or processes (or, failing that, to improve existing ones), technological innovation, although it may seem obvious, is classified as the process that includes technology as a vehicle for innovation.
Technological innovation has always been a driving force for social progress, although it is true that the acceleration of digital transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic (between three and five years, according to studies) has increased its relevance even more, if possible, helping to create a more efficient, humane and sustainable world.
Types of technological innovation and examples
Within the types of innovation, we are going to focus on those that can be considered according to the degree of change they involve: incremental, disruptive and radical.
Disruptive innovation is understood as the application of new ideas that lead to substantial changes in processes, services or products that cause drastic changes in the market, companies and user behaviour.
A clear example of disruptive innovation is the wheel, since its use meant a total change in the habits of the society of the time.
Within this category, other examples of disruptive innovation could be found, such as the mass production of the first automobiles (which caused a disruption in transport as it was known up to that time) or mobile telephony (which meant a disruption compared to the previously existing fixed telephony).
This type of innovation is that it arises from an existing project to which very significant improvements are added, so that additional value is being generated.
Generally speaking, changes are developed through this type of innovation as they are focused on improving the efficiency, productivity or competitive differentiation of a previously existing service or product.
Another feature of this type of innovation is that it does not generate new markets, because customers or users are already familiar with the service or product in question.
An example of incremental innovation is the smartphone and its development with touchscreens, since the product itself, the phone, has not changed, but considerable improvements have been introduced that have altered its use.
Generally speaking, and with some disruptive exceptions, the smartphone industry in general could be considered as incremental innovation because improvements are added to an already existing and consolidated generic base.
Another example of incremental innovation could be the evolution of the automobile market as opposed to the disruptive innovation we mentioned earlier, which was the beginning of mass production.
Although it is true that the performance, structure or functionality can be modified (not to mention the inclusion of numerous extras that help both in driving and in the leisure of the rest of the passengers) on an already consolidated product.
This type of innovation arises from a completely different value proposition on a service or product and therefore implies a total break with what has been previously established; in other words, bringing about major changes to what already exists as opposed to the disruptive one of creating something that does not exist, as we have seen above.
An example of radical innovation is the computer, since, with the novelties of writing software, it displaced the typewriter.
Continuing with examples from the automotive field, we could include the electric car as a radical innovation: it is a sustainable energy solution with innovative technology.
Another example of radical innovation would be the digital camera, which has been gaining popularity since its first prototype in the mid-1970s, displacing traditional film cameras.
Benefits of technological innovation
Technological innovation brings with it innumerable advances of all kinds. For example, in the business world it brings the following benefits:
- It reduces costs by increasing the efficiency of processes.
- It facilitates processes precisely because of the aforementioned increase in efficiency, generating greater flexibility and agility in their management.
- It improves productivity by allowing the control of operations in real time, allowing decisions to be made based on specific data.
- It creates new jobs, to the extent that the World Economic Forum estimates the number of new technology-related jobs worldwide to be almost 100 million by 2025.
Distrito Telefónica: Hub of Innovation and Talent
Distrito Telefónica, Telefónica’s global headquarters located in Madrid, dedicates more than 10,000 square metres to innovation spaces and the training of talent in a lively and constantly evolving technological environment.
It is an open innovation space in which to test, experiment and develop the solutions of the future in technologies such as 5G, IoT, edge computing, artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality.
The Innovation and Talent Hub seeks to create a better world that is more sustainable, fairer and more inclusive in which collaboration is the best competitive advantage, a global commitment based on innovation and talent to meet the challenges of the new digital society beyond technology.
Because, as Telefónica’s Executive Chairman, José María Álvarez-Pallete, reminds us, “the future is present and is played out in the field of innovation and talent. That is where people’s lives are transformed”.