Focusing on Innovation to Solve Customer Problems

Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization. As such, how organizations define and foster a culture of innovation is critically important to their success. True innovation means improving processes and products, and finding new ways to serve customers.   

From Doblin, Deloitte Consulting's innovation practice, we know that there are 10 types of innovation  – far beyond the obvious product development, which Doblin says delivers the lowest return on investment and least competitive advantage.

So, beyond product innovation, what can organizations do to be fully innovative? Doblin breaks its 10 innovation types into three broad categories of configuration, offering, and experience. From how businesses are organized, to how products and services are made available to customers, to how customers interact with brands -- all are potential opportunities for innovation.

The Ultimate Innovation: A Problem Solved

While customers will always seek product improvements, what they are ultimately looking for are solutions to their problems. Solving our customers’ problems -- whether in the lab or how they engage with us — is the main driver of our innovation efforts. 

To help customers make informed decisions based on earlier and more accurate insights, PerkinElmer makes our numerous subject matter experts available. They possess the knowledge and expertise, not only in detection, imaging, informatics and services, but also in the scientific application of our solutions across a broad range of industries. Furthermore, our partnerships with customers strengthen our understanding of their needs and our ability to help them do their work better.

Innovation Tools 

Collaboration within PerkinElmer, with our customers, and with academic and industry leaders is essential to innovation. It’s one of the reasons we’ve deployed Spigit, the cloud-based ideation and innovation management platform. We’ve used it to drive internal innovation challenges and most recently, to include our one million ChemDraw users in the ChemDraw Innovation Challenge.

Also internally, we drive collaboration with Innovation Summits that bring together over 120 R&D scientists and product managers from around the company. These events feature incredible speakers, a technology and innovation fair, and in 2015, 25 teams of employees submitted projects for a chance to win funding to develop their ideas.  

As part of the 2016 Innovation Summit, we recognized two outstanding researchers who have demonstrated a long history of invention, commercial success, and thought leadership at PerkinElmer: Andy Tipler, a leader and innovator in the area of gas chromatography for 30 years, and Dr. Veli-Matti Mukkala, for three decades of work and leadership in the area of lanthanide chelate chemistry that underlies many of our reagent technologies. 

Precompetitive Research Initiatives

Another method of driving innovation, and lowering the cost of R&D, is participation in alliances and organizations that lead precompetitive research initiatives. PerkinElmer has joined a number of such organizations, including:

In doing this, we ensure that we’re part of the industrywide dialogues driving standards and best practices that will move science and research forward.  

Organizational Focus

In the fall of 2016, PerkinElmer named Karen Madden, formerly president of our Informatics business, to a new position as Vice President of Technology and Innovation for the entire organization. Madden leads a team that identifies new markets, technologies, and customer-driven product offerings. She is also focused on infusing the customer voice into our innovation efforts and challenging conventional thinking and approaches. 

In addition to Innovation Summits that recognize and motivate employees, Madden says meaningful culture changes can stimulate an innovative environment. She points to a story that NASA engineer Adam Steltzner told to PerkinElmer employees about his work at the Jet Propulsion Lab to land the rover Curious on the surface of Mars.

The culture of innovation arises from the brutal combat to which ideas are subjected,” Steltzner had said. Madden agrees that when ideas go to battle with other ideas and suggestions, the idea which emerges is the strongest and best.

“Very importantly, the people with the ideas can walk away feeling good and not that they themselves have been through a battle,” she says. “This was key in Adam’s experience of finding the most innovative solutions and made the mission a success.”

What Does All of This Mean For Our Customers?

Our promise is more than better products; it’s better solutions to customer problems. Driving innovation throughout our organization, in all our customer interactions, is becoming more intentional. 

That kind of drive was behind our innovative PerkinElmer Signals™ for Translational informatics platform. In response to difficulties working with siloed data that was hampering discovery, this solution enables translational scientists to search and integrate clinical and research data and seamlessly explore and make new biomarker discoveries using the analytics and visualization power of TIBCO Spotfire®

It’s also why we partner with customers like Johnson & Johnson, where we provide onsite expertise at its JLABS locations. Our services – from validation to scientific and multivendor asset management – are helping to reduce lab complexities and increase efficiencies.

When we are focused on finding new and better ways to help customers overcome problems and achieve their goals, that’s being innovative.