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Guest Thinkers

What is the trend in innovation?

Many would claim that “innovation” remains the hottest buzzword in business today. Yet, according to this graphical chart from Google Trends (which measures the popularity of certain search requests), it looks like the term “innovation” was actually hotter in 2005 than it was in 2006. Am I reading this chart correctly? Notice, too, that during the summer months (flat) and the winter holidays (sharp spike down), people tend to take a break from innovation.

I think there might be three possible explanations for the traffic patterns between 2005 and 2007:

(1) As the term “innovation” has matured, Google users have become more precise in their searches. They now use specific terms like “fuzzy front end” to describe the exact part of the innovation process they are interested in, rather than broad, generic terms like “innovation”

(2) Google users view “innovation” as a broad umbrella term that encompasses other areas like design, creativity, and invention. Thus, the fact that users are not searching for “innovation” does not mean that they are not searching for these sub-disciplines and related areas. Or, maybe they are searching for things like “Web 2.0,” which is innovative in and of itself without the need for a descriptive word related to “innovation”

(3) In the past 12 months, there has not been any breathtaking new theory or model within the innovation world that has captured the hearts and minds of Internet users around the world. (I’m thinking specifically of something like “disruptive innovation” or “creative destruction”)

Anyway, it’s also interesting to note from where the largest search volume for “innovation” is originating. It’s not the USA. Instead, the five leading cities or regions for innovation-related searches are Copenhagen, Singapore, Ottawa, Berlin and Bangalore. Rounding out the Top 10 are Dusseldorf, Sydney, Cologne, London and Dublin. Thus, innovation is hardly a North American  or even English-speaking phenomenon.


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