Sunday, August 16, 2009

The corporate lab as ringmaster

The Internet has changed many things, of course, but one of its more far-reaching effects has been to transform the economics of innovation.

The nation's big corporate research and development laboratories--at IBM, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and a handful of other companies--have their roots and rationale in the industrial era, when communication was costly, information traveled slowly and social networks were fostered at conferences and lunchrooms instead of over the Web.

Crowdsourcing and other new, more open models of innovation are really byproducts of the low-cost communication and new networks of collaboration made possible by the Internet.