||Through increasing global competition, companies are facing great challenges to stay competitive. One proven way to stay competitive is through innovating. Innovation can create new opportunities for new markets, find new sources of customer value, offer new products, and develop new ways of operating. Therefore, it is critical for organizations to be able to innovate in order to survive on the market.
As a result, companies have to be able to manage their innovation process, as it is not a question of whether to innovate or not. Still, some companies are hesitant to engage in innovation as it is heavily associated with uncertainty. Although SMEs are limited in their size and resources, they are known as an important driving force for innovation. This makes SMEs interesting objectives for research studies in order to examine how they use their resources to implement the innovation process.
This thesis presents and analyzes the current innovation process of two Taiwanese SME, one of a traditional manufacturing industry and the other one, which operates in the service industry, and offers suggestions for improvements.
Qualitative Research was conducted by identifying the main innovation process phases, idea generation, idea selection, idea development & implementation, with help of the literature and were used as guidance in semi-structured in-depth interviews with the respective managers of the SME and start-up. Subsequently, key findings of the analysis were used to make suggestions of improvement for the SME.
Comparing to the literature, the innovation process of the SMEs are both, not surprisingly, quite intuitive, especially with regards to idea selection and idea implementation, with the only real selection criteria being profitability and implementation-teams are build based on availability.
The analysis result has further revealed great differences in the innovation process between the two case-SME of customer approach and workforce development. With the one SME of the traditional manufacturing industry, having the greatest challenge in possessing and attracting adequately qualified workforce.
At last, the researcher offers suggestions for improvement for the SMEs innovation process based on the key findings, which can help the SME have a better innovation output, as well as higher overall productivity of its workers. Those suggestions include clearly defining the requirements of the ideas (who, what, where, when, why), setting clear selection criteria, using IT-systems to store and support ideas, trying to develop the workforce, setting milestones and implement documentation to keep track of the progress and learn from it. Furthermore, SMEs that struggle with innovative issues may seek governmental institutes, which consult and support them with those questions. In conclusion, these suggestions can be used as reference for other similar structured SMEs to get indications on which factors such organizations should pay attention to with regards to the innovation process in order to improve its efficiency.