There is often a considerable amount of ambiguity at the outset of open innovation partnerships. Quite often, the technology customer is considerably larger than the provider and is being pursued versus being the pursuer. The technology provider almost never knows the full extent of what needs to be demonstrated in order to earn a customer’s business commitment. They are also quite often reluctant to ask so as to avoid offending the other party or seeming ignorant or unsophisticated. How can this situation be improved?

Routinely, before any kind of open innovation business deal is struck, it requires unilateral investment of time and resources by the technology provider in order to win the customer’s interest. There is frequently tension attached to these interactions: how much to invest before requiring a yes or no decision?

Very often, technology candidates arrive with a data package that is not consistent with what a technology seeker might generate if he/she were developing it themselves.  As technology seekers wish to minimize risk associated with adopting a new technology, their tendency is to request that the provider perform additional work to address questions. Technology providers become increasingly resistant with each successive investment.  No external technology will ever be thought of as risk-free.  However, there should be a reasonable, objective standard.  Therefore, technology providers and seekers need to reach an agreement as to what is reasonable…and they should do this sooner versus later.

Technology providers are often hesitant about inquiring about success criteria and action standards.  They don’t wish to seem inexperienced or risk offending the customer. It would be generous for companies to be more forthcoming with this important information. That said, it is not their responsibility to volunteer it.  It is up to the individual technology provider to pursue this with providers so that they understand specifically what is required of them and then decide whether or not they still wish to engage.

While some companies may be more communicative than others with the information they choose to share with prospective partners, they are not obligated to be totally transparent.  Nor are technology providers required to make what they might judge as excessive investments.  They can always choose to disengage if necessary. If the two parties can achieve shared understanding regarding the terms of engagement, the smoother their experience together should be.

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.