When Google started life as a university project, who would have thought that it would lead to a multi million $ business. Google News, Gmail, Maps, Google Earth and Adsense are examples of the business growing by innovation. The challenge to large business is to still think like a small business and act creatively. It seems that larger business are struggling to take the risks and often buy in innovation from smaller businesses.
In technology it is doubly challenging as there are so many options and it is a rapidly moving world. If you think that the internet has only really existing for about 15 years, it shows how much life has changed and indeed will change.
So how does Google manage to innovate so successfully? It invests in innovation. Staff have 20% of their time to spend on innovation and the remaining 80% on the day job. Googles’ innovation budget was $2.79 billion in 2008. It uses a project based approach to manage resources and monitor progress.
Each project needs to find a solution to a problem. So with News, the problem was to locate news quickly. Simple format and to the point. Staff who have a track record are supported. It is risky to back a project, hire people and just go the office in Sydney and go for it. But that is pretty much how Maps was born. The same team as working on Wave. This brings together instant messaging, like Twitter with email and wikis.
So being a big business is helping with innovation as there are resources and expertise to use to build networks and generate skills in developing a raw, even wacky idea into a success.