Has everything been invented? Are Innovation opportunities endless? Why do we think so? What is the justification in favor of such a belief? As unfolding innovation opportunities keep shaping the market value of labor, human capital, natural resources, and firms, should we not pay serious attention to how far innovation opportunities will keep revealing? Without answering this vital question, why have we, as individuals, firms, and nations, been pumping staggering amounts of resources to benefit from Wealth creation out of unfolding innovation opportunities?
Due to a lack of clarity on this vital question, the commissioner of the US Patent Office in 1899 came up with an observation: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” By the way, despite terming such a quote ridicule, many of us make mistakes believing in the bright future of matured products, leading to facing the Kodak moment while Startups keep rising. On the other hand, Governments in most less developed countries have been pursuing policies disincentivizing the path of profiting from ideas.
Will light bulbs, televisions, automobiles, and many other products keep improving? When will innovation end? Will Apple’s magical iPhone ever stop growing, easing the journey of offering increasing quality to consumers and more profit to Apple’s investors? Often, such questions baffle the most brilliant minds. Both consumers and producers confront this perplexing situation. The ceasing of innovation will end our progression of having a better quality of life from scarce resources.
On the other hand, producers or investors will face eroding profits. Besides, society will meet the reality of ending growing wealth creation from scarce resources. The human race will complete the journey of increasing the quality of living of a growing number of human beings. Consequentially, unhappiness, stagnation, the fight for wealth, and many curses will worsen.
Endless desire for quality, cost, and profit demands an endless Flow of Ideas
Human beings have the urgency of Getting jobs done better. Once people face such an urgency, they innovate. Once urgency and pertinent knowledge fade into the creative process of humans, ideas for innovating products and processes emerge. As a result, the quality of getting jobs done improves, and costs are reduced.
Of course, all of us are innovative. We have been innovating every day. However, we are more interested in firms or producers who are in the business of delivering innovations in the market. To have insights about the market of innovations, let’s ask ourselves relevant questions: why do people buy products? And why do innovators produce them? The answers are obvious. People buy products to get their jobs done. They have been looking for superior quality products to get their jobs executed increasingly in an improved way by consuming less time and effort. It appears that customers’ preferences for the superior alternative are endless. However, why should producers deliver them? The answer is obvious: to make more profit?
Producers are pressured to offer increasingly better-quality products at decreasing costs to make a profit. But they must pay increasingly more for labor, human capital, materials, and other ingredients. Such a reality creates a conflicting situation. Fortunately, ideas can address it—to simultaneously make products better and cheaper. Hence, there has been an endless demand for ideas for advancing products and processes so that producers can keep increasing revenue and profit by offering better quality products at less cost. Consequentially, the market of innovation has been expanding. However, how do we create an endless flow of ideas for making endless improvements?
Endless innovation opportunities demand an endless flow of ideas
The flow of ideas depends on humans’ creative engine. Producing ideas requires two essential ingredients: (i) urgency and (ii) knowledge. Like urgency, knowledge alone does not empower our creative process to create ideas. As it has been clarified, the human race has an endless urgency to improve quality, reduce cost, and increase profit. Now, we need an endless flow of knowledge to meet our urgency. However, Is the flow of knowledge endless?
Knowledge originates from multiple sources, such as insights into human preferences, characteristics of materials, energy, and biological organisms, latent potentials of technologies, unfolding competition and policy dynamics, and so on. Like infinite combinations of materials, there have been endless possibilities of other related factors. Consequentially, the possibility of creating an endless knowledge flow appears infinite. Due to the empirical approach and imagination ability, the human race seems to be in a situation of creating an endless flow of knowledge. Consequentially, it’s likely that the endless flow of idea creation is a real possibility. However, it will also depend on the scalability of our creative process. Does it run the risk of reaching saturation? So far, no such indication has surfaced. Hence, it’s fair to say that it’s possible to generate an endless flow of ideas for unfolding endless innovation opportunities.
Nurturing the capacity to generate an endless flow of ideas
It appears that profit-making urgency plays a critical role for creating innovation opportunities. However, quality improvement and cost reduction out of ideas is not the only option for making a profit. It’s a complicated option to profit from. Hence, producers are always after alternative options like protection, tax differential, public incentives and subsidies, low-cost loans, cheating customers, prize fixing, intellectual property infringement, monopolization through collusion and regulation, paying lower taxes and loan default. However, all these profit-making means do not create wealth. Unfortunately, many less-developed countries have kept these options open. Consequentially, the profit-making race has been failing to create wealth out of ideas in these countries. Hence, the Government must close these easy profit-making windows to accelerate innovation opportunities.
Upon closing extortionist profit-making options, policymakers should incentivize knowledge creation so that the urgency of profiting from ideas gets the needed supply. Besides, idea production is not sufficient to generate profitable revenue. First, innovation opportunities are fraught with uncertainties, irrespective of greatness. Furthermore, the innovation race in the globally connected competitive market must be won to turn ideas into profit. Moreover, once current waves reach saturation, timely switching should be made. Hence, an endless flow of ideas is needed to drive profit-making innovation opportunities. As there is demand and supply potential for the endless flow of ideas, innovation opportunities appear to be endless, unfolding endless prosperity.