Apple Inc.’s Innovation Challenge and Management


In the contemporary business setting, the increasing level of competition requires organisations to incorporate the necessary advancements for the realisation of a considerable share of the market. Technological innovation is one of the important factors that drive the competitiveness of players in diverse industries. Important to note, the globalisation of markets requires industry players to engage in strategies that improve the performance of the offered products and services (Westland 2016). For this reason, effective innovation management is crucial in the new business world since it is an important driver of competitiveness (Volberda, Van Den Bosch & Heij 2013).

In this respect, players who operate in the different market structures, including oligopoly, monopoly, perfect competition, and monopolistic competition frameworks, need to uphold the essence of innovation since it influences their performance in the wake of increased rivalry among competitors. Apple Inc. is one of the global companies that value innovation management as one of the factors that account for its continued success. In this respect, the paper uses this company to review the concept of innovation by covering the aspects of organising innovation, innovation strategy and organisational structure, innovation models, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the protection and capture of value from innovation.

Reviewing Innovation Management

Organising Innovation

The existing structures in an organisation influence the management of innovation to a considerable extent. Besides structure, the size of an organisation also affects the organisation of innovation, owing to the aspects of capital availability and flexibility. The need for organising innovation in line with the organisational structure and size reduces barriers that may undermine the realisation of product improvements in a firm. In this regard, different departments in an organisation need to work together to facilitate the integration of technologies that enhance the design and development of new products that meet customers’ expectations (Schilling 2017). For example, Apple applies the collaborative approach to innovation organising to facilitate the realisation of creative decision-making regarding the advancement of its products in the global market. Besides fostering creativity, the collaboration of different departments at Apple enhances the stimulation of new ideas, simplification of the design process, and the unveiling of successful innovations that foster the company’s profitability (Johnston & Bate 2013). Therefore, organising innovation requires the various wings in an organisation to develop profitable products and services collaboratively.

The formal and informal aspects of organisational structures also influence the collaboration patterns that facilitate an organisation’s innovation. Importantly, the formalisation of the organisation’s structural dimensions encourages the establishment of rules, actions, and written documentation to guide the behaviour of individuals in the organisation (Eckblad & Golovko 2016). In this regard, the formalisation of the structural dimensions of an organisation guides the way employees need to interact and/or behave to facilitate the generation of creative ideas that can boost a company’s performance in the industry. Conversely, informal coordination patterns exist in organisations that encourage a flexible approach towards innovation. Notably, informal organisational structures allow employees to apply reason in their decision-making processes (Camisón & Villar-López 2014). In most cases, loosely coupled organisational structures give room for informal collaboration patterns that are geared towards promoting innovation. The loose and free-flowing mechanisms in the organisation allow departments to take the responsibility of continually innovating processes and products.

Organising innovation requires the establishment of networks that streamline the collaborative efforts of different divisions in an organisation. The networks can also exist among firms to undertake creative development activities. The establishment of coordination networks is useful towards the management innovation process across borders. For this reason, firms continue to develop loosely coupled networks that support research and development (R&D) activities geared towards innovation. Apple leverages the cultural diversity aspect of operations by establishing networks and partnerships that foster the identification of innovation opportunities that can bolster the exponential growth of the business. Apple identifies partnerships and networks as integral aspects of the company’s innovation strategy.

Importantly, such networks offer the embedded coordination among all players that participate in the development and production of innovative products and services. In this respect, the existence of networks that support innovation allows the organisation to attain flexibility in R&D, as well as production configurations (Schilling 2017). Therefore, loosely coupled businesses support the development of networks that influence the establishment of integrated synergies that promote technological development.

Innovation Strategy and Organisational Structure

The development and implementation of successful innovation strategies is an important function of innovation management in various industries. The innovation strategy concentrates on the identification of customer requirements and designing creative products that satisfy their expectations (Schilling 2017). The strategic direction adopted by a company seeks to realise set goals and objectives. Particularly, innovation strategy targets the realisation of three crucial objectives that include the maximisation of fit with customer needs, the minimisation of the time spend to deliver the product to the market, and the regulation of development costs (Johnston & Bate 2013). For this reason, Apple unceasingly engages teams and networks to assess the changing customer requirements regarding computer hardware and software. The innovation strategy is integral in ensuring that the company develops products that satisfy the emerging needs of customers in the computer and smartphone industries.

The creation of teams that spearhead a firm’s innovation strategy is also pivotal in ensuring the development of the necessary products through timely and cost-effective approaches. The teams foster the efficiency of parallel growth processes, thereby reducing the development cycle time while at the same time enhancing the coordination of functions, including manufacturing, R&D, and marketing (Volberda, Van Den Bosch & Heij 2013). The parallel development process aligns with the innovation strategy to facilitate the identification of product improvement opportunities, concept development, product design, process design, and commercial production.

Innovation strategies underscore the importance of quality as an essential factor that influences the success of a company. For this reason, businesses embrace the quality function deployment (QFD) approach to foster the designing and production of quality products. The QFD approach to innovation strategy supports the creation of teams that enhance communication, as well as the coordination of teams, which specialise in the areas of manufacturing, engineering, and marketing. Organisational structures such as formalisation, centralisation, and specialisation have a considerable influence on the implementation of innovation strategies in an institution. Therefore, regardless of the organisational structure, the house of quality approach to innovation strategy offers a shared language and framework that streamlines the interaction between the project team members (Johnston & Bate 2013). Furthermore, team members in an innovation strategy facilitate the clarification of the nexus between product attributes and customer needs. Importantly, organisational structures affect the innovation orientation in the sense that different divisions need to focus on key aspects of the innovation strategy (Goffin & Mitchell 2016). In this regard, the flexibility of a given type of organisational structure is more efficient in fostering collaborative interactions and communication compared to rigid structures.

Innovation Models

Different innovation models exist to facilitate the competitiveness of the products or services offered by a company. Notable innovation models include the S-curve, funnel, portfolio, and the product-process cycle frameworks. A business needs to select an innovation model that suits its objectives and goals.

The S-curve innovation model facilitates the assessment of a company’s performance concerning time and effort. The framework allows the management team to evaluate the maturity of the product introduced to the market. The S-curve incorporates four phases that include the ferment era, take-off, maturity, and discontinuity. Although Apple’s S-curve is flattening, the company still has a chance to tap from its innovative pool of employees to introduce new products to consumers (Eriksson 2013). The ferment era requires the firm to invest in R&D since the product is new in the market besides the existence of stiff competition (Schilling 2017). The ability of a product to meet the demands of the market allows it to enter the takeoff phase. The maturity phase represents the significant adoption of the product in the market. Thus, a business focuses on the reduction of cost to gain competitiveness. The discontinuity phase requires a firm to innovate the product after reaching maturity since the market demands new products to meet the changing consumer requirements.

The innovation funnel is a model that facilitates the development of a product or process that seeks to improve the efficiency of a corporation by meeting the needs of the market. The initial phases of the innovation funnel involve the identification of ideas before refining them to develop the most appropriate product or process. The company focuses on ideas that remain after refining by planning on the implementation strategy (Goffin & Mitchell 2016). The business integrates the ideas that remain to facilitate the development of a new concept. The adoption of the funnel model is easy since it requires the company to follow some stipulated steps that facilitate the creation of innovative products and processes.

The area of innovation portfolio management (IPM) functions as a key tool that facilitates the translation of strategic priorities and objectives into project-oriented actions. By considering the associated risks, the innovation portfolio is useful in the conversion of raw ideas into actual investment opportunities. Therefore, IPM concentrates on the integration of the strategy definition and the implementation of the innovation project (Goffin & Mitchell 2016). Important to note, the innovation portfolio ensures that the project suits the corporate strategy besides the anticipated financial gains of the innovation project.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation in the business world promotes a wide array of entrepreneurship opportunities. Notably, technological innovations have the potential of creating opportunities for new entrants, especially first movers in a given industry (McLuskie & McLuskie 2017). In this respect, innovative companies entering a particular market as the pioneers have the potential of growth and prosperity since they easily gain customer loyalty while securing their technology leadership position in the sector (Camisón & Villar-López 2014). Additionally, first movers have the advantage of exploiting the switching costs of customers. Furthermore, innovation promotes entrepreneurship by ensuring that first movers reap the increasing returns benefits, thus realising financial success. In this light, the development of the iPod and iTunes denote the innovativeness of Apple in the music and entertainment sector that has enabled the company to gain billions of dollars from the sale of music.

Undoubtedly, innovation facilitates the development of products and services that improve the quality of life. The situation offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to unceasingly develop new products that seek to improve the quality of life in different areas. Therefore, the relationship implies that innovation will always encourage the growth of entrepreneurship in different regions of the world (Westland 2016).

Protecting and Capturing Value from Innovation

For an institution to benefit from its innovativeness, it needs to protect the modernisation spirit. In this view, the appropriability of modernism is crucial since it influences the degree to which rivals in the industry can copy the innovation (Png 2017). The protection of an innovation seeks to reduce the chances of rival organisations imitating the advancement. By so doing, the organisation betters its chances of capturing the innovation’s value to the business. In this regard, Apple’s protection of its innovation is important since it influences the competitiveness of the corporation. However, it is difficult to protect some innovations, owing to the ease of imitation. Thus, Apple may need to consider the legal frameworks that can allow it to gain value from its product or process development.

The notable approaches of protecting intellectual properties and innovations include patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Importantly, the patent plays the role of securing the innovation. The trademark facilitates the protection of the symbols, as well as words that point out the source of a product. Copyrighting fosters the protection of the authentic artistic or literary project (Png 2017). Moreover, a business can also maintain trade secrets as a way of fostering innovation protection and the capturing of value.

Through the various forms of protecting innovation, the organisation captures the value by benefitting from the greater rent appropriability (Schilling 2017). As such, the company will be at a better position of further investing in the innovation besides arranging its promotion and distribution. Furthermore, Apple captures the innovation value through protection since the approach offers it the architectural control over the technological advancement. In this respect, the protection of innovation is a relevant step towards ensuring that a corporation benefits completely from its process and product development.

Deepening of the Critical Success Factors of Technology Innovation

Notably, not all innovation projects achieve success. The process of technology innovation experiences numerous challenges that require consideration by the respective strategic innovation teams. Besides taking note of the barriers, the organisation team needs to understand the critical success factors that facilitate the success of the innovation. In this view, the notable success factors for innovation include stakeholder involvement, professional development and training, collaborative environment, the availability of resources and financial support, the ease of use, and strategic planning and governance among other factors (Volberda, Van Den Bosch & Heij 2013). Consequently, the promotion of global growth and development through technological innovation is a factor that encourages the spirit of entrepreneurship to prevail in the contemporary industrial sectors. In other words, highlighting the various success factors for technological innovation in a company such as Apple is relevant.

Leadership Support

Leaders in an organisation need to play roles that facilitate the success of technological innovations integrated to foster competitiveness (Camisón & Villar-López 2014). In this view, it is critical for leaders to demonstrate positive attitudes directed towards fresh ideas and strategies. The portrayal of a positive attitude goes a long way in influencing team members to uphold the essence of technological innovation in the organisation. Leaders contribute significantly in shaping the different types of organisational structures. Such structures have varying influences on innovation management. In this view, leaders need to act like role models who uphold the essence of involvement in idea generation, evaluation, and feedback.

Besides showing a positive attitude towards the embracement of new ideas and strategies, leaders need to show support for innovation by facilitating the removal of obstacles that undermine the success of the innovation projects. By removing such hurdles, they ensure that the innovation receives the needed attention to facilitate the execution of the new technological advancement in the organisational processes or the products offered to customers.

Leadership support also determines the extent to which the innovation technology coincides with the organisational missions and approaches. Importantly, the leadership of an institution should support innovation by ensuring the adoption of ideas that foster the realisation of the organisational objectives and goals. Additionally, the innovation strategy needs to align with the strategic plan of the organisation. The move makes it possible to celebrate the successes of innovation efforts.

Professional Training and Development

Ensuring unceasing development and the expansion of technological innovations requires an organisation to invest in professional training and development (Yang, Jin & Sheng 2017). The approach ensures that the innovation teams acquire the necessary skills and knowledge required to facilitate the successful design and execution of innovations (Martín-de Castro 2015). The knowledge and skills acquired through professional training and development should be aligned with the organisational processes. The approach is key towards fostering the compatibility of the approach with the organisational processes.

The training process also needs to capture the relevant audience. The intended audience should be made up of individuals who form the innovation development and execution teams. The move guarantees the appropriateness of the training and development programmes, which have been integrated to support innovation (Yang, Jin & Sheng 2017). Besides, the training approach needs to engage the audience in ways that facilitate the creation of value. The engagement of innovation team members is crucial towards the development of creative ideas that foster the development of products and processes in the organisation. After the administration of professional training and development on innovation, it is crucial to carry out additional initiatives that boost the efficiency of the approach. In this view, the organisation needs to initiate booster courses, develop innovation networks, and/or reward all performing team members. The approach enhances the efficiency of the training and development initiative in the short-term and long-term.

Stakeholder Involvement

The involvement of stakeholders is critical towards enhancing the sustainability of a technological innovation and its impact on an organisation’s competitiveness (Johnston & Bate 2013). The involvement of stakeholders supports the need for a collaborative environment that enhances the development and execution of strategic innovation actions. Importantly, the engagement of internal and external stakeholders facilitates the generation of important knowledge and ideas that boost the sustainability of an organisation’s innovation orientation (Martín-de Castro 2015). The knowledge acquired from stakeholder engagement should be translated into innovation by engaging in internal knowledge management.

The involvement of stakeholders is also important towards streamlining the application and adoption of technological innovation. Stakeholders usually make contributions that facilitate the designing of the innovation to meet particular goals and objectives. For instance, involving experts in a particular area that requires innovation is pivotal in gaining an understanding of the underlying processes that facilitate the functionality of the developed process besides the uniqueness of the newly introduced product (Mueller, Rosenbusch & Bausch 2013). Similarly, the involvement of customers in technological innovation is a critical success factor since customers communicate their requirements to the innovation team that in turn develops the necessary products to meet customers’ needs.

Resources and Financial Support

The allocation of the necessary resources is crucial towards fostering the efficiency of strategic innovation management. In this view, an organisation needs to mobilise capital, as well as financial resources, to facilitate the innovation project. It is crucial for innovation leaders to budget for technological innovation (Furman et al. 2017). Failing to do so can easily hinder the realisation of innovation success since such developments require sufficient financial support. Additionally, the innovation process should also observe the importance of cost-effectiveness to bolster the financial health of the organisation.


Apple is an organisation that has realised success due to effective innovation management. Organising innovation requires the creation of collaborative interactions among teams and firms that focus on improving products and processes. The organisational structures adopted by different companies influence the innovation orientation to a considerable extent. Besides, innovation supports entrepreneurship as denoted by the entry of first movers in different sectors. The protection or capturing of innovation value through patenting, copyrighting, and trademarking and keeping trade secrets ensures that the firm realises maximum benefits from innovation. Moreover, it is important for an organisation to take into account the factors that influence the success of innovation projects.

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