Innovation at Xerox
The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
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So what does that future look like?

Based on what․s happening in our labs, cultural diversity will be celebrated, and women will take STEM by storm. These new perspectives will catalyze major breakthroughs: Computers will become your partners instead of just tools that get the job done. Printed electronics will make integrated circuits cheaper and easier to produce. And immersive experiences—powered by near-field communications, virtual reality and the Internet of Things–will blend physical and digital worlds together.

These breakthroughs sound futuristic, but they’re already underway. That’s what happens when you gather some of the brightest minds on the planet at our research centers, and ask them to dream with our customers. You get big, juicy ideas that solve today’s business challenges with an eye toward tomorrow.

What Will Work Be Like in 10 Years?

What will work look like five or 10 years from now? To answer that question, you turn to the people who, at this very moment, are inventing our future.

According to Hoover, collaboration will be key to the future of work. But remember, we․re talking about the guy who runs the research center that developed personal computers and the icons that are now part of our smartphones – in other words, the technology that changed how we do work today. When Hoover talks about “collaboration” being part of our future of work, he․s talking about more than interpersonal communication. For instance:

  • Computers will be more than a tool; they will become our partners.
  • Freelance work will be more common. Work will center around projects, and technology will help bring them together and complete the work. After that, people will move on to other projects, often with entirely new team members.

What Else is PARC Working On?

In addition to changing how we work, PARC researchers are also working on “clean technology,” a segment that is ripe with rapid change and innovation. Here are some of the projects that The Future of Work Show highlighted:

  • Lasers that produce light out of a wafer plane. These surface emitting lasers are particularly useful for optical fiber data transmissions.
  • Advanced fuels cells that perform at commercial standards.
  • Printed electronics: New applications that reshape the cost and complexity of electronics so that integrated circuits will be printed into products during the manufacturing process.

“We put people at the center of technology,” Hoover explained to Morgan. “Technology is supposed to make our lives better, which is why we use good science to understand people․s problems.”

3 Reasons Why Innovation Fails

Innovation is an invention that solves a problem. It․s also tricky business according to Hoover. “In my 21 years at Xerox and PARC, I․ve found three significant reasons why innovations fail.”

  1. The innovation itself is not ready OR it does not work.
  2. You have misunderstood the market. Your invention does not solve a problem in a way customers find valuable.
  3. You don․t have the right business model.

So how can companies that struggle to innovate move ahead? Hoover says that his advice is twofold:

  1. Embrace risk. Not because risk is good, but because the reward that comes with solving a problem is valuable.
  2. Innovate in a way that challenges your current business model. New technologies can radically change business models, and if you․re not open to that possibility. Set up space where you are exploring innovation in ways that hurt your own business. If you don․t do that and technology changes your business anyway, you will end up a victim.
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