Innovation Managers drive technical innovations within companies and ensure competitive advantages on the market. They not only develop new solutions but also improve existing processes, products, and services. Let’s explore the role of an innovation manager.
In industries that are highly competitive, it is important for companies to win and retain customers with new ideas. The higher the level of competition, the more likely it is that market participants will invest a large budget in research and development.
An innovation manager ensures that efforts in this area are targeted and as efficient as possible. They are the uniting component between day-to-day businesses, various internal departments, and the innovations of the future.
What does an innovation manager do? Tasks and activities
An Innovation Manager or an Innovation Project Manager must combine a variety of interests and tasks as they are an interface between business, technology, and creativity.
Therefore they work on ways to map and document the flow of ideas and knowledge within a company. This makes it possible to develop new ideas and start projects from existing know-how.
Innovation Managers examine new and promising technologies together with specialists for application examples in reality. If market potentials become apparent, they are mainly responsible for the development of prototypes, checking practical applicability, and accompanying them to final development.
In the course of these processes, the Innovation Management specialist also examines possible related business areas and potentials that link future or existing products and technologies of the company in a new context. In the ideal case, it is thus possible to open up new business fields using existing resources and with relatively little additional effort.
What are the tasks of an Innovation Manager?
- Reimagining the experience of new customers in relation to the company’s products and services
- Proposing and implementing new experiences for internal collaborators
- Providing best practices in strategic design for new products/services
- Integrating marketing and communication, aligning the objectives of the entire company
- Proposing innovative products and business models aimed at enhancing the company’s offering
- Working closely with experts from the different areas of the company, detecting improvements, and new opportunities
- Defining the guidelines and policies that must be met in relation to innovation in the company
- Leading the development of the strategy and innovation focuses.
- Implementing and leading the plan to create a culture of innovation in collaboration with Human Resources
- Monitoring, analyzing, and communicating innovation metrics to senior management to seek opportunities to improve the company’s innovative performance
- Introducing new products or services for internal and external customers
- Analyzing internal processes or developments to turn them into profitable “products” for the market
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What makes a good innovation manager?
Innovation managers can come from different industries but always require excellent expertise. They are able to think in an interdisciplinary way to bring together and uncover the interests and potential of different departments.
They are decisive and are not afraid to take risks. In addition, they are characterized by the fact that they are not discouraged by failed ideas and projects, but are able to reflect strong staying power because setbacks are not uncommon in research and development.
As leaders, they also demonstrate motivation and assertiveness.
A key aspect of the skillset is the ability to effectively communicate – with clients, team members, internal departments, and more. Strong communication skills are therefore key to this role. Knowledge of collaboration and project management tools is a plus.
Additionally, agile methods and approaches such as lean startup, scrum, or design thinking are part of the skills of an innovation manager.
What skills should an Innovation Manager have?
- Experience with Innovation and Design Thinking
- Knowledge of OOP principles and Agile Programming methodology
- Brand Management, and/or Market Research
- Knowledge of automation, collaboration, and transaction management tools
- Willingness to take risks and the ability to stay persistent
- Expertise in the field of product development/management
- Ability to prioritize multiple projects all at once
- Strong communication and networking skills
- Ability to make use of Microsoft Lifecycle Management
- Creative ability to think and plan
- Strong business and technical understanding
- Ability to make clear decisions and map out goals for the team
- Strong management and leadership skills
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How do you become an Innovation Manager?
Innovation managers can work wherever companies provide significant R&D budgets. In terms of employee requirements, a degree and professional experience in an innovation role are often mentioned as key requisites.
Applicants generally have a Bachelor’s degree in the field of economics, informatics, or engineering. A degree with a focus on digitization is generally recommended.
Alternatively, a comparable degree with technical and business management skills may also be considered provided the candidate has sufficient project management experience.
Companies also value candidates holding an MBA so a master’s degree could certainly boost your resume.
The field of innovation management is constantly growing and changing in order to allow companies to develop and market products successfully. Each company will define the exact role and requirements depending on what they need.
Are innovation managers in demand?
Innovation managers are more in demand than ever because digital change requires companies to strictly implement new ideas in order to secure their own future viability.
For this reason, more and more companies are looking for well-trained innovation managers.
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Salary and Freelancer Rates
The profession is particularly promising from a financial perspective. For applicants in the US, the starting salary for an innovation manager is about $42,000 per year. The average salary is around $69,000 gross per year.
On the other hand, senior salaries are around $113,000 but can be significantly higher in certain cases. The actual salary depends on factors such as the industry and the company, but also on professional experience in each individual case.
In Germany, Innovation Managers can expect an average salary of 76,000 Euros. The average starting salary is 56,000 Euros per year whereas the maximum end of the range sees an annual salary of 101,000 Euros.
How much does an innovation manager earn?
How much does a freelance Innovation Management expert earn?
The average freelancer hourly rate of an Innovation manager is $118. Considering an 8-hour working day, the daily rate would be around $944 (freelancermap price index – November 2020).
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