Harvard Business Review
The Idea in Brief
Challenged by the anthrax crisis of 2001, Pitney Bowes swiftly developed imaging technologies for detecting suspicious mail. How? It used open-market innovation. By going outside its boundaries—to fields as diverse as food handling and military security— it gathered 82 ideas, then distilled the best solution.
Some of the fastest growing and most profitable businesses are using open-market innovation to improve the pace, cost, and quality of innovation. Through strategic alliances, joint ventures, and licensing, companies as diverse as IBM, Boeing, and Eli Lilly are opening their innovation borders to vendors, customers—even competitors.
Open-market innovation carries benefits and risks. The key to using it? Determine when it’s right for your company, then institutionalize it.