Any business looking to create and sell new products should be familiar with the innovation process. The invention of an idea or product and its commercialization each may reflect innovation. There is, however, no a broad consensus on the number of phases in the innovative process. A working paper published by the Hamburg Institute of Technology identifies only three phases. A study by Jay Abraham and Daniel Knight published in "Strategy & Leadership" lists five: generation, conceptualization, optimization, implementation and capture.
Generation, as the name indicates, is the phase in which the innovation process begins. It involves the brainstorming of ideas that will later be molded into viable solutions for customers. In this stage there can be some loose modeling and designing.
In the conceptualization phase, ideas are placed in the official sphere of a company’s research & development department. Companies set money aside to finance development. Innovators design and test their ideas while planning the product development process. Prototypes and models are generated. The overall product has begun to take shape, so research is conducted on consumer needs and desires.
This stage is essential to any successfully commercialized invention. Consumer research and testing on prototypes are put together and analyzed. Every good idea needs to be more than compelling; it needs to fill a need in the marketplace. In this stage, design and function changes are made to accommodate market needs, pricing and consumer requirements. Final decisions are made about the aesthetics and function of a product so that it can be successfully commercialized.
Implementation is the last step in the commercialization process. Ideas or products are brought to the consumer or end user. If you are offering a consumer good, the product is mass produced and sent through the distribution channel. Small modifications can still be made to adjust to real demand and needs, but the overall concept remains intact and will either be accepted or rejected by users.
Regardless of success, a company should implement a capture phase. In this stage, information about the success or failure of the product and the performance of preceding phases is brought together and analyzed to increase knowledge and experience. If the product is successful, a company wants to figure out if additional innovations can be commercialized. This is also where the company begins to make revenues to fund future innovations.