Innovation as a Service: The Future of Driving Business Growth


In today’s fast-paced business environment, continuous innovation is key to staying ahead of the competition. However, maintaining an in-house innovation team requires significant resources that not all companies have access to. This is where Innovation as a Service (IaaS) providers are stepping in to help businesses drive growth through constant product and process enhancements.

What is Innovation as a Service?
IaaS refers to innovation delivered remotely through a subscription or consulting model. Companies partner with specialized firms that have the expertise, infrastructure, and processes in place to ideate, prototype, test, and implement new solutions on behalf of their clients. IaaS providers work collaboratively with client teams to understand business needs and pain points and then brainstorm creative solutions.

Rather than building large internal R&D teams, businesses can leverage external partners for on-demand innovation capabilities. IaaS removes many of the organizational barriers that slow down in-house innovation efforts such as product development lifecycles, budget constraints, and resource availability issues. Companies get innovation support tailored to their specific requirements without the overhead of maintaining permanent innovation infrastructure.

Key IaaS service models
There are various models through which IaaS providers deliver innovative solutions:

Consulting-led services: Strategic consulting firms help clients develop innovation roadmaps, facilitate idea workshops, conduct market research, and implement new product launches. They play an advisory role to build sustainable innovation programs within organizations.

Product development services: Engineering and design firms take care of the entire product development lifecycle from concept ideation to prototyping, testing, production, and distribution on behalf of clients. Their expertise spans various technologies and industries.

Platform-based services: Innovation platforms allow businesses to crowdsource ideas, vote on initiatives, and collaborate with internal and external experts online. Some platforms even facilitate prototyping and pilot testing of selected concepts.

On-demand talent marketplace: Talent marketplaces connect companies with freelance designers, engineers, researchers and other specialists for short-term innovation projects on an hourly billing model.

Benefits of working with IaaS providers
There are multiple advantages for businesses that leverage external innovation partners:

Access to specialized skills: IaaS firms bring together multidisciplinary teams with deep expertise across various technologies, markets, industries, business functions etc. This helps ideate innovative solutions businesses may otherwise lack capabilities for.

Agility in experimentation: External partners allow for rapid prototyping of ideas without bureaucratic delays. They can quickly test, validate, refine or discard concepts based on measurable outcomes.

Scalable innovation capabilities: Resources can be scaled up or down instantly as per project requirements rather than maintaining permanent in-house teams. This makes innovation more cost-effective.

Objective perspective: Outside consultants provide an unbiased viewpoint free of internal politics or preconceived notions. Their analysis and recommendations are purely data/problem-driven.

Increased productivity: By offloading non-core innovation work, companies can focus internal resources on executing business strategy and scaling existing products/services.

Reduced costs & risks: IaaS eliminates large capital investments for facilities, equipment etc. Businesses only pay for actual work delivered thereby reducing innovation project risks and costs.

Factors impacting IaaS adoption
While IaaS is gaining popularity, there are a few factors currently impacting wider adoption:

Short-term focus: Many businesses still view innovation as a one-time project rather than an ongoing process. This limits the scope of Isnnovation as a Service engagements.

Communication challenges: Distributed innovation necessitates foolproof collaboration systems and common objectives between internal teams and providers. Misalignment can hamper results.

Loss of control: Some companies are hesitant to give external partners significant autonomy over strategic initiatives critical to their future growth.

Security & IP issues: Data privacy, proprietary information access, and ownership of intellectual property developed require clear contracts and governance protocols.

Provider reliability: It is challenging to reliably assess the long-term capabilities, sustainability and dependability of new IaaS startups especially in niche domains.

The way forward
For IaaS to truly take off, firms need to broaden their partner engagement models from isolated projects to strategic multi-year relationships built on transparency, mutual understanding and governance. Standard frameworks for scope definition, regular performance reviews, flexibility in adapting to changing needs, and outcome-based billing will help address current bottlenecks. With proactive steps to overcome initial challenges, Innovation as a Service has immense potential to power business growth across industries in the coming years.



  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it