I am calling out the dairy industry and I am asking them a question.
Where are your open innovation initiatives?
Having done some quick research on the dairy industry in relation to a FMCG project, I am working on, I was a bit stunned to learn how little open innovation activity there seems to be within the dairy industry.
Given the size and global importance of this industry, I wonder why this is so. Do they not yet understand the potential in open innovation? I find that a bit hard to believe as so many other FMCG companies have embraced this wholeheartedly.
Am I just missing out on the initiatives because they are done more quietly and with less communication? If that is the case, I wonder why they do not communicate more. As you know from reading my blog, I think communication is a key element in innovation today; open or internally.
So what did I learn that prompted me to write this short post?
- When I check on large dairy companies such as Arla, Fonterra or FrieslandCampina, their descriptions of open innovation and their initiatives on this seem really vague and their language resembles what we saw years ago in other industries.
Note: Arla seems to be heavily committed to innovation with a new strategic drive and I hope to see that open innovation will become a key element of this. But not so far.
- Try to search for open innovation on blogs and sites such as Dairyfoods or Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Not much luck.
- Very few people on LinkedIn within the dairy industry come up when I search for “open innovation” using the keyword search function – and I have a huge network and a premium subscription on LinkedIn. My search gave up with only 24 hits within the dairy industry compared to 27,642 hits in all industries!
- Check out upcoming conferences within the dairy industry. On the agendas, you will see some focus on innovation – or more likely R&D – but there is not much that indicates a focus on open or external innovation.
- In general, I don’t see much open innovation among “supporter / contributor” or supplier companies to the dairy industry. Maybe because the dairy industry don’t drive this?
Dairy industry, please enlighten or correct me on what is going on here because what I see is simply not good enough for a globally important industry as yours!
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Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.