Open innovation is a strategy whereby companies open their boundaries to the flow of information, ideas, capabilities, and resources in a quest to become more innovative. Following successes at some leading global corporations, this strategy has been widely adopted. The publication of several open innovation process models in literature has facilitated that adoption. One of the key initial steps in all of these is the systematic search for promising external technologies, broadly referred to as “technology scouting.”
Technology scouting can be described as the process of collecting knowledge on science and technology at an early stage by using formal and informal information sources including expert knowledge. Also is a method for technology foresight analysis. It can be used to gather information on specific technological areas or in explorative ways to identify relevant developments.
Technology scouting includes the process steps of identification, selection and assessment. The main objectives of the technology scouting approach are the early identification of technology trends and the recognition of challenges and opportunities of the technologies.
There are two common technology scouting modes: technology scanning and technology monitoring. Technology monitoring is more comprehensive and complex than technology scanning in scouting methods and scopes.
Technology scouting has a profound effect on at least three areas of open innovation: 1) identifying external sources of solutions for known problems, 2) providing input into the development of a technology strategy that balances investment in internal technology development with partnerships and acquisition of external technology, and 3) providing important information that enables the generation of new product and business ideas.