At Wolters Kluwer, innovation is driven by solving our customers’ most pressing challenges through applying deep domain expertise and workflow insight—coupled with intelligent technologies.
In the second Wolters Kluwer Executive Insights podcast, Greg Samios, CEO of Legal & Regulatory U.S., speaks with Nancy McKinstry, Wolters Kluwer CEO, to uncover how innovation and customer centricity meet in the company’s strategy of Growing Our Value. While acknowledged as a critical organic growth driver for any business in the digital era, there is neither one single definition of innovation, nor a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To unpack its meaning, we look at the history of innovation, then share highlights from the podcast on innovation at Wolters Kluwer—where the customer is absolutely central. To conclude, we consider the future of innovation: Will it remain as the byword of the digital era, or will something else take its place?
A brief history of innovation
According to Benoît Godin in Innovation Contested, the term ‘novation’ first appeared in thirteenth century law texts, referring to newness in contracts. In society at large, however, novators were treated with suspicion; subject to life imprisonment (or worse)—their ideas seen to undermine existing social, political and religious power structures.
A deep suspicion of innovation remained for centuries to come, philosophers from Machiavelli to Bacon noting people’s fierce resistance to change. Even during the Industrial Revolution, ‘invention’ not innovation (here is the difference) was the byword.
But in 1939, Joseph Schumpeter, one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, defined innovation as the thing that happens when firms figure out how to transform inventions into constructive changes in their business model: in products, processes and organizational design. Management and Economic theory began to adapt.
Over time, the elements of technology and the consumer were woven into Schumpeter’s definition, Rogers’ Diffusions of Innovations (1962) explaining why some innovations are adopted and spread, while others are not. A milestone case in healthcare helped tie innovation to the adoption of new technologies by consumers. You will recognize the model below.