Via a very circuitous route, I stumbled across a year old blog posting about innovation at EMC (a disk drive manufacturer). It is by Bob Buderi (of MIT Technology Review) about the EMC Innovation Conference he attended in 2007. This quote caught my attention :

Mark Lewis, president of EMC’s Content Management and Archiving Division, said in his conference keynote, the innovation landscape had changed dramatically for companies like EMC in recent years. It used to be, he said, that big corporations had the advantage over smaller companies and entrepreneurs because they were organized for R&D. Now, Lewis said, given the Internet, the global nature of competition, social networking, mashups, and more, it’s not unusual to find “the edge out-innovating the core.” As a result, he said, “we not only have to compete with companies, now we have to compete with non-companies.”

Exploring beyond the core is the central tenant of the Futures programmes that we run at Innovaro. If you are in a business that is already digitalised – such as EMC – the innovation timeframes are much shorter, and you have a much higher susceptibility to disruption from the fringes.

(Mark Lewis – who is quoted above – blogs here.)