Technology innovation is a very broad concept of scientific innovation. Although innovation is a very well-defined concept, even to most individuals, it often has a wide interpretation to individuals, especially the more scientific oriented, and, oftentimes, a very narrow interpretation to most in the business and academic worlds. For instance, let us consider new technology, such as the Piltdown virus. The scientist or researcher who created the Piltdown virus might well patent his achievement and receive a Nobel prize, but in doing so he will be required to share his idea for technology with the world, for the rest of the time that his invention remains secret. Likewise, those who profit from the new technology or who benefit from its application will need to share in its benefits and share in its risk.
In this article, we will consider three distinct forms of technological innovation: Platform innovation, Information technology innovation, and Entrepreneurship innovation. We will explain these forms in terms of their relationship to each other and how they differ from one another. We will also look at some related fields such as knowledge creation, information systems, and organizational structure. Finally, we will describe specific examples from various industries that have shaped the landscape of these different forms of technological innovation.
To appreciate how to determine the type of technological innovation fit for a particular field, it is necessary to understand what can be considered to be a sustainable development approach. The debate over what is not sustainable development continues, however, as proponents of both views try to come up with definitions that clearly demarcate what is not sustainable development. Advocates of a limited sustainable development approach believe that because of the dynamics of global economics, there is no way to develop advanced technologies cheaply, reliably, and easy enough to provide societies with the material goods that they desire without depleting natural resources at an unprecedented rate. They, therefore, believe that advanced technologies must be controlled by society in a manner that ensures sustainable development through the use of these technologies. By developing advanced technologies through a limited set of inputs, advanced technologies become a “social good” that society is then able to afford, while concurrently depleting the natural resources of the earth at an unprecedented rate. This is the premise upon which the philosophy of sustainable development is based.
Technological innovations must be both efficient and effective if they are to be used in a manner that promotes sustainability. The philosophy of sustainable development recognizes that advanced technologies, in and of themselves, cannot be sustainable if society does not adopt a set of practices and goals designed to maximize their use, minimize their use, and retrain their use so that they do not cause excessive damage to the environment. These practices and goals then form the basis of sustainable technology innovation. For instance, a sustainable development approach to environmental technologies would require developed nations to reduce their consumption of petroleum products and to develop new environmentally sound construction practices that do not rely heavily on environmentally toxic materials or activities. Developed nations that adopt these principles can then work together to create infrastructure projects and economic policies that make large scale use of these innovations while simultaneously reducing their individual contribution to the environmental damage caused by the innovations.
Sustainable technology innovation also encompasses the adoption of new knowledge. A philosophy of sustainable innovation views the use of innovations as a collective effort and a process in which knowledge creation and shared innovations are productive and contribute to environmental health rather than being a luxury that is pursued by a select few. By contrast, philosophies of sustainable innovation such as that of open innovation focus too much on the entrepreneur as the primary driver of the process. Open innovation theories assume that technological innovations are more useful when the users of these innovations are the ones who pursue them. In other words, the knowledge created by the innovators should reach out to others to create value for the future.
There are many different types of technology innovations. Those most familiar to most people are those that impact our daily lives: computers, television, telecommunications, automobiles, transportation, medical technology, and communications. However, technology innovations can also come about through advances in the industries of art, education, science, medicine, and technology. The field of sustainable innovation has become more popular in recent years as organizations around the world have debated how to keep their environment clean and fresh. In fact, as a growing number of organizations embrace green technology innovation, a new face of the global economy has emerged: sustainability technology innovation consulting.