To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers. In a social context, innovation helps create new methods for alliance creation, joint venturing, flexible work hours, and creation of buyers' purchasing power. Innovations are divided into two broad categories:
- Evolutionary innovations (continuous or dynamic evolutionary innovation) that are brought about by many incremental advances in technology or processes and
- revolutionary innovations (also called discontinuous innovations) which are often disruptive and new.
Imitators take less risk because they will start with an innovator's product and take a more effective approach. Examples are IBM with its PC against Apple Computer, Compaq with its cheaper PC's against IBM, and Dell with its still-cheaper clones against Compaq.
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