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10 Types of Innovation: The Art of Discovering a Breakthrough Product

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10 Types of Innovation Infographic

The Art of Discovering Breakthrough Products

As venture capitalist Peter Thiel once put it, “competition is for losers.”

It’s inevitable that every company must be out there battling for market share, but you don’t really want to be in a situation where the competition is so stiff that any potential upside is eroded away in the process—―a scenario known as perfect competition in economics.

To avoid perfect competition, companies must strive to build an economic moat that gives them a sustainable competitive advantage over time. While these protective moats can arise from a number of different sources, in today’s information economy they most often arise from the power of innovation.

But where does innovation come from, and is there a universal framework that can be applied to help consistently make big breakthroughs?

The 10 Types of Innovation

In today’s infographic, we showcase the culmination of years of in-depth research from Doblin, an innovation-focused firm now owned by Deloitte.

After examining over 2,000 business innovations throughout history, Doblin uncovered that most breakthroughs don’t necessarily stem from engineering inventions or rare discoveries.

Instead, they observed that innovations can be categorized within a range of 10 distinct dimensions—and anyone can use the resulting strategic framework to analyze the competition, to stress test for product weaknesses, or to find new opportunities for their products.

Here are the 10 types of innovation:

#Innovation TypeDescription
1.Profit ModelHow you make money
2.NetworkConnections with others to create value
3.StructureAlignment of your talent and assets
4.ProcessSignature of superior methods for doing your work
5.Product PerformanceDistinguishing features and functionality
6.Product SystemComplementary products and services
7.ServiceSupport and enhancements that surround your offerings
8.ChannelHow your offerings are delivered to customers and users
9.BrandRepresentation of your offerings and business
10.Customer EngagementDistinctive interactions you foster

From Theory to Practice

What does innovation look like in practice?

Let’s see how well-known businesses have leveraged each of these 10 types of innovation in the past, while also diving into the tactics that modern businesses can use to consistently make new product breakthroughs:.

Innovation Types #1-4: “Configuration”

According to Doblin, the first four types of innovation center around the configuration of the company, and all the work that happens “behind the scenes”.

Although innovation types in this category are not directly customer-facing, as you can see in the examples below, they can still have an important impact on the customer experience. How your company and products are organized can have a crucial downstream effect, even enabling innovations in other categories.

Configuration innovation types

Two of the most interesting examples here are Google and McDonald’s. Both companies made internal innovations that empowered their people to make important advancements further on downstream.

In the case of McDonald’s, the franchisee insight that led to the introduction of the Egg McMuffin spearheaded the company’s entire breakfast offering, which now accounts for 25% of revenues. Breakfast is also now the company’s most profitable segment.

Innovation Types #5-6: “Offering”

When most people think of innovation, it’s likely the offering category that comes to mind.

Making improvements to product performance is an obvious but difficult type of innovation, and unless it’s accompanied by a deeply ingrained company culture towards technical innovation, such advancements may only create a temporary advantage against the competition.

This is the part of the reason that Doblin recommends that companies focus on combining multiple areas of innovation together—it creates a much more stable economic moat.

Offering innovation types

Apple has a reputation for innovation, but the product ecosystem highlighted above is an underappreciated piece of the company’s strategy. By putting thought into the ecosystem of products—and ensuring they work together flawlessly—additional utility is created, while also making it harder for customers to switch away from Apple products.

Innovation Types #7-10: “Experience”

These types of innovation are the most customer-facing, but this also makes them the most subject to interpretation.

While other innovations tend to occur upstream, innovations in experience all get trialed in the hands of customers. For this reason, intense care is needed in rolling out these ideas.

Experience innovation types

In the early days of the internet, online shipping was precarious at best—but Amazon’s introduction of Amazon Prime and free expedited shipping for all members has been a game-changer for e-commerce.

Executing on such a promise was no small task, but today there are 150 million users of Prime worldwide, including some in metro areas who can get items in as little as two hours.

Making Innovations Happen in Your Organization

How can organizations approach the 10 types of innovation from a more tactical perspective?

One useful resource is Doblin’s free public list of over 100 tactics that correspond with the aforementioned framework.

The one-pager PDF provides a range of typical dimensions for approaching each type of innovation. In essence, these are all different ways you could consider when trying to differentiate your product or service—and at the very least, it provides a useful thought experiment for managers and marketers.

For those interested in learning more on this topic, Doblin also has a highly-rated book as well as other accessories that leverage the above framework.

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Visualizing Microsoft’s Revenue, by Product Line

This graphic breaks down Microsoft’s revenue by segment—from cloud office software to AI search engine capabilities in 2023.

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Visualizing Microsoft’s Revenue, by Product Line

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Over the last decade, Microsoft’s revenue has more than doubled, driven by key product lines like its intelligent cloud infrastructure.

Adding to this, Microsoft launched its AI-enabled search engine, Copilot last year, which has already generated $12 billion for the company. Beyond this search engine, Microsoft is developing a range of AI-based services, such as Azure Arc, a cloud computing platform with 18,000 customers.

This graphic breaks down Microsoft’s revenue in 2023, based on data from Affinity powered by Syntax.

Microsoft’s Most Lucrative Business Segments

In 2023, Microsoft revenues soared to a record $211 billion as demand for AI services accelerated.

As one of the world’s largest companies by market cap, Microsoft reached a $2.8 trillion valuation as investors flocked to big tech and AI-related stocks last year. Amid strong growth, here’s how much revenue was generated from Microsoft’s product lines in 2023:

Product LIneFY2023 Revenue Share of Revenue
Cloud Computing Services$80B38%
Cloud Office Suite Software$49B23%
Operating Systems$22B10%
Gaming Consoles$15B7%
Employment Listing Platform$15B7%
AI-Enabled Search Engine$12B6%
Other$19B9%
Total Revenue$211B100%

Comprising 38% of total revenues in 2023, Microsoft’s cloud computing services segment earns more than any other by a long shot.

These intelligent cloud services provide the servers, storage, and data centers that enable businesses to run websites and other computing services without the need for buying individual hardware and software.

The second-highest revenue driver was cloud office suite software, with sales of Microsoft 365 bringing in $49 billion in revenue.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s gaming consoles segment pulled in $15 billion in one of its best years ever. In 2023, the company acquired Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, known for World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. It was the company’s biggest acquisition in its history.

Falling after gaming revenues is Copilot, its AI-enabled search engine, making up 6% of 2023 revenues. This productivity tool can be embedded into Microsoft 365, allowing companies to use natural language prompts to gain data on their company, summarize insights from meetings, and a host of other functions.

As AI-related services continue to gain momentum, it remains to be seen whether Microsft’s revenue will continue to see strong growth. So far, investor optimism has remained elevated.

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