Tools That Drive Innovation: The Role of Information Systems in Innovative Organizations

Tools That Drive Innovation: The Role of Information Systems in Innovative Organizations

Jason G. Caudill (Carson-Newman College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-165-8.ch034
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The purpose of this chapter is to examine computer technology as a tool to support innovation and innovative processes. The primary problem that this chapter is intended to address is the multitude of widely held misconceptions that seem to exist regarding technology and innovation; technology is not innovative in and of itself. The primary method of research for this chapter is a literature review and case study method examining how technology is being successfully integrated into innovative processes in industry. Specifically this chapter focuses on technology’s role in communication and creativity, two of the many activities found in an innovative process. Findings indicate that while directly connecting technology use to innovation is difficult, technology can play a substantial role in facilitating the innovative process. Thus, technology is a qualifier for many innovative processes, a resource that is necessary for the work of innovation to take place.
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Technology As A Tool

Technology is an incredibly powerful force in the developed world. Compounding not only technology’s importance but also its impact, the rise of digital technology and its penetration into the market has been unrivaled in human history. In just a few short years personal computers moved from very expensive diversions for a limited number of technically-engaged hobbyists to a common household appliance. In just a few more years they moved from being stand-alone devices to networked devices that brought the world into living rooms and offices. Ultimately, such connectivity moved from full-sized computers to handheld devices in the form of smartphones.

Such devices are constantly changing and the highly competitive marketplace brings new features and new models to customers on a frequent basis. Technology is inherently innovative, particularly where competition among technology providers is concerned. Where misunderstanding often occurs is the idea that just by having technology in a process that process becomes innovative.

Technology is, and always has been, nothing more than a tool. Dosi (1988) explains that, “In very general terms, technological innovation involves the solution of problems-for example, on transformation of heat into movement, shaping materials in certain ways, producing compounds with certain properties-meeting at the same time some cost and marketability requirements” (p 1125). Notice that not only does technology solve problems, but it solves problems within the bounds of what is acceptable in the marketplace. The innovation is not the technology, rather the technology helps to find the answers as part of an innovative process.

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