Innovation: sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow…

Amazon has introduced Scout, an autonomous robot for last mile delivery extremely similar to previous models developed by Starship Technologies, the company originally set up in Estonia, which has been working on this concept for some time and has carried out tests in several cities with differing results.

Amazon’s move illustrates the changing dynamics of innovation: companies sometimes trail blaze a concept, while at other times they opt to adapt and develop existing ideas. In the case of retail, distribution and logistics, fundamental to Amazon’s business, we have seen how its cashier-less stores, which opened to the public about a year ago, is being imitated by more and more businesses who see the concept gaining traction and are thus making massive investments to keep up. Microsoft followed Amazon’s lead in developing these kinds of complex hardware and software technologies, with other players, such as Mighty AI, now positioning themselves as suppliers to the big distribution chains, a segment in which Amazon, if it follows its usual strategy of opening up internally developed technology to third parties, will also soon enter.

There’s no need to be original all the time: sometimes, concepts are developed by a third party, and important thing is knowing how to evaluate the decision of whether to take what is possible from these external innovations and develop them further or instead to opt for licensing technologies or making acquisitions. On other occasions, a company innovates and is then concerned with protecting its investment and establishing a sustainable leadership by getting it to market as soon as possible.

When it comes to innovation, businesses must know how to pick the right strategy according to the particular circumstances of the situation.

(En español, aquí)