Intel exec cites importance of innovation

Innovation is not necessarily about new inventions, but is more about finding beneficial applications, according to an Intel executive addressing The Venture Forum conference.

Citing examples ranging from Netflix's by-mail DVD rental service to Toyota's Prius hybrid automobile, corporate vice-president and general manager of the Software & Solutions Group at Intel, Renee James, stressed the importance of finding ideas to leverage inventions.

"First of all, innovation enables a larger population of people to take advantage of something more simply and more conveniently than they have in the past," she said, quoting from The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen.

The disrupting of markets, reshaping of business models, and facilitating of existing patterns of consumer behaviour were also key factors in recognising innovation, James said.

Netflix, for example, found a new way to rent DVDs to the marketplace, she said.

"It's really quite amazing because they did not invent anything," James said.

Toyota has had the Prius on the market since 1997, but the combination of new technology with a brand promise of environmental correctness had made the car successful, James said.

"Their innovation was taking this idea and making it cost-effective," she said.

"One of the great things about working in the technology industry is you get to change the world, and innovation creates that change," James said. Intel has had its share of innovations. The company's Centrino technology helped spread the use of wireless technology, although Wi-Fi had existed for six years prior to Centrino mobile notebooks, James said. The company also had a team in Israel focus on improving battery life instead of speed.

"As a result, today mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous," James said.

She also cited technology trends lending themselves to innovation: open source; software as a service; semiconductor parallelism; Globalisation.

"The predominance of my employees [is] not in the US anymore," James said. "We believe putting employees into the local market is the number one way to serve it," she added.

The Venture Forum pairs up venture capitalists with entrepreneurs pitching wares such as the SwapSimple.com peer-to-peer trading service and Yantric, which focuses on virtual reality and robotics.

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