1.0 Executive Summary
IME Technologies is an innovative organisation that resides within the mechanical engineering industry; it has been selected for this report due to its innovative and modern image that it portrays. Innovation is ‘the end result of creativity and a synthesis of knowledge, combined with novel and relevant new products or services’ (Jolly, 2002). Whether IME Technologies actually carries out innovative behaviour combined with whether this company has the characteristics to do so will be explored within this report.
This following report will begin by detailing a short description of the mechanical engineering company, IME Technologies. This description will include an identification of the company’s history and which industry they reside in. The report will then go on to explore what the strategic competitive advantage of IME Technologies is before analysing its future challenges. The second part of this report will provide a short review of the literature within the idea of innovation in order to specifically identify which characteristics can encourage innovation within a company. Based on these characteristics the report will then assess whether the company, IME Technologies carries these characteristics in order for it to be described as an innovative company.
The report will then close by detailing what the most innovative product is within IME Technologies and what type of innovation it falls under. Along with a description if how IME Technologies can enhance this product through its product lifecycle, the report will also suggest why this product assists in the innovative image that IME Technologies possess. A brief description of what could be contributed to the success of the company in the future will also be outlined.
3.0 About IME Technologies
IME Technologies is an innovative organisation that prides itself in translating scientific knowledge into practical mechanical solutions and thus provides services from consultations through to product development. IME Technologies also specialises in selling innovative research equipment and thus is a company that forms its foundation in the development of innovative ideas and technology. IME Technologies originated in 2006 by Jan van Helvoirt and Ramon Solberg, they saw that there was a demand for high tech mechanical solutions that are based upon effective knowledge, sought from research (IME technologies, 2009). Thus the aim of Jan van Helvoirt and Ramon Solberg was to form a company that combines academia with mechanical engineering, as a result a strategic partnership was formed with the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
IME Technologies competes within the mechanical engineering industry and it is believed their competitive strategy is that they exist as a very new company; IME Technologies carries out regular research as part of the innovation of their products and services. Their main competitive advantage would have to be due to them being a full subsidiary of the Eindhoven University Holding, which means that they combine with the Department of Mechanical Engineering in order to join the gap between scientific research and applications (IME Technologies, 2009).
The main challenges that IME Technologies will face in the future are firstly, they are a very young company so it could be suggested they are always playing catch up when aiming to achieve new customers. However, the fact that they are young certainly mirrors their innovative image and therefore this could be more Appling to potential customers. Also, IME Technologies focus on three main elements, consultancy, prototyping and contact research. Therefore, a main challenge for them in the future could be that it will be difficult to focus on all three sections equally and not specialising in any. The challenge is to remind their target audience that they can combine all three sections and that they are an integrated and innovative company that specialise in scientific research – which is one key factor that is an important aspect of all three sections within their company.
IME Technologies rate themselves as being a company that combines consultancy and depth contract research to develop sustainable innovations in the mechanical engineering arena. IME Technologies have a mission that details how they strive to offer services that will enable their customers to ‘increase the added value and cost effectiveness of their current business’.
4.0 Literature Review on Innovation
The process of innovation is regarded as an essential component to the success of any organisation, according to Ensminger and Surry (2008).
Innovation has been defined by Urabe et al (1988) as ‘the generation of a new idea and its implementation into a new product or service’. Thus suggesting that innovation is concerned with how the idea is first discovered, as well as how it is inputted into a practical and useful scenario. Both of which, IME Technologies do, as they research fully into new areas before implementing the innovative idea into their services. Urabe et al (1988) also comment that innovation is a consistent process, again this mirrors the behaviour of the company, IME Technologies, as they are consistently researching and implementing new ideas. Innovation can also be identified as a way in which an organisation can change in its values and views about certain topics, according to Brown and Duguid (1991). IME Technologies carry out research on a daily basis and thus are welcome to changes in their views concerning mechanical engineering, and therefore, IME Technologies could therefore be described as an innovative organisation.
Nevertheless, March and Simon (1958) state that innovation should occur from borrowing, if this is the case then IME Technologies are not innovative as their innovative ideas are based on fresh and new primary research. However, if we follow the characteristics laid out by Ely (1990) it will be able to demonstrate a clearer view of whether IME Technologies are an innovative organisation.
There are very few studies concerning the association between the characteristics of innovation and the level of adoption of innovation that an organisation has, and future research should be conducted in this area, according to Damanpour (2008). However, by researching to Ely (1990) several key characteristics of innovation have been identified. These characteristics are based on environmental and human conditions that should be in place in order for an organisation to carry out innovative activity.
The first characteristic that Ely (1990)discusses is that the members in the organisation must have dissatisfaction with their current status quo. This suggests that the current technology the organisation is using is viewed as insufficient, or not competitive enough. In addition, results from organisational failure as a whole could contribute to the need to want to implement more innovative procedures, products and services, according to Surry and Ely (2002). Others have also identified that dissatisfaction with the current processes within the organisation can lead to the desire to be innovative (Vrakking, 1995). IME Technologies does follow this characteristic, as the desire to develop a more innovative company grew out of the need to combine the academic community and engineering market in order to produce more effective products and services, thus is could be suggested that the Directors of IME Technologies were originally dissatisfied with their current deliverables before the company was largely developed, and hence innovation occurred.
The second characteristic of innovation, according to Ely (1990) is having adequate resources available in order to implement innovations. Mirroring this view is Burkman (1987) who discusses the importance of locating the necessary resources in order to support the implementation of an innovative idea. In addition, Klien and Sorra (1996) identify that infrastructure resources form an important part of providing the ideal climate within an organisation, for innovation, Other researchers who have also proposed that the availability of resources are an important characteristic of implementation include Benson and Palaskas (2006) and Buchan and Swann (2007). IME Technologies has this characteristic as they work with other research institutes to develop new innovations; they also have additional resources such as solid partnerships with suppliers and manufacturers. Thus, they have the resources, particularly in the research side, to create innovative products and services.
The third characteristic of innovation is, according to Ely (1990), having rewards and incentives in place. These could be either intrinsic or extrinsic and it has also been suggested that the image of being innovative in itself could form as a reward (Burkman, 1987). IME Technologies have incentives which include bridging the gap between academia and mechanical engineering, which they achieve thorough research. The rewards associated with this include developing new and exciting innovations that IME Technologies are gradually becoming well known for (IME Technologies, 2009). In addition to this, rewards could also include positive news stories being published, which have often occurred for IME Technologies, and could increase the reputation of the organisation and then bring in more business as a result. Therefore, IME Technologies holds the characteristic of rewards and incentives and can therefore be suggested as being, according to these characteristics, as innovative.
5.0 Discussion on IME Technologies
The most innovative product that has been developed by IME Technologies is the Pirouette PVT Apparatus (IME Technologies, 2009). The type of innovation can be described as Outcome Driven Innovation (Strategyn, 2007). This is because IME Technologies engage in the product innovation with the aim to help their customers and the general public to get that specific job of moulding done more efficiently. In addition the development of the Pirouette PVT Apparatus can also help get new jobs done as well as helping a new set of people perform the job, that would normally be carried out by very skilled people.
The product is concerned with injection moulding and is a patented product that enables the specific volume of polymers to be recorded and filled, based on the ‘pressure, temperature, cooling rate and shear rate’, according to IME Technologies (2009). This product is so innovative and important to the mechanical engineering industry as products need to be accurately shaped for important functional or esthetic reasons, and therefore changes is specific volume can determine their final dimensional stability and affect the success of the product. Therefore, by developing a product, which can identify the specific volume needed during processing, is very important to optimize mould design capabilities.
This product is currently at the product life cycle stage of Introduction, as it is still in the remaining stages of being developed (IME Technologies, 2009) and will soon by available to the specific market. Due to its ability to make jobs more efficient, it can be predicted that the Pirouette PVT Apparatus will have a fast growth period, followed by a long maturity, and as more competitive products enter the market, a fast decline could take place.
However, the development of the Pirouette PVT Apparatus has helped IME Technologies to compete because it enables potential customers to complete their job more effectively, most importantly, IME Technologies also hold the patent for the type of engineering used to develop this product and therefore this provides a large competitive advantage and prevents competing organisations from developing the same product. Combine with this, the positive public relations and word of mouth that will be a result of this new innovative technology will also increase the awareness and reputation of IME Technologies and thus bring in more business for the future.
Contributions to the future of the company should include gaining more partners in technological research in other European countries, not only Holland. In addition, IME Technologies should gain more support from suppliers and manufacturers so that products can be developed and them implemented more quickly, meaning they can sell them more quickly to companies, before competitors do. To conclude, IME Technologies is a very innovative organisation, their innovative characteristics are visible throughout the complete organisation, form the type of staff the employ being ambitious and young, to their focus on research which is highlighted by their associations with Mechanical Engineering Research Departments at key universities.