The writing is on the wall. Thinking the chain: customer need leads to product definition leads to product production leads to market delivery leads to product life cycle is completely DEAD! The whole approach should change. The competitive environment and the global economics associated with crowd sourcing prohibit the old model. It is simply too easy to break any product (of service) down into its constituent parts and commoditize the entire process. Starting from a fundamentally different premise will help redefine everything.
First, any innovation today requires thinking about the user community before the product starts taking shape. How will user self-imposed desires keep loyalty and inhibit margin erosion? And delivering raw technology is simply not enough.
Second, what collaborators existing in the market ecosystem can help make the product more useful or more convenient? We have clients that produce incredibly valuable products but require too many changes to his/her environment and workspace. Finding collaborators to alleviate this makes all the products more valuable.
Third, companies in the future will need to be much more innovative in knowing and delivering business value in products and services that lead up to their main product or service. In other words, companies may need to be in businesses that lead to their business. What was once a strategy for large conglomerates must now be mastered by small and medium sized businesses. We see too many companies doing business as usual, slowly but surely loosing competitive ground.