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Types and Patterns of Innovation Essay

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Updated: Jul 14th, 2021


Innovation is essential to the success of many modern companies, especially those that operate in highly competitive markets. Technological innovation, in particular, is the primary reason behind the rapid growth of humankind’s capabilities throughout the 20th century. As such, knowledge of the patterns for the creation and adoption of new ideas is essential for both company managers and researchers. This essay investigates the primary frameworks in modern technological innovation.

Types of Innovation

Innovation can be differentiated based on its applicability and overall influence on the technological field. Shmerling (2013) distinguishes two primary types based on these parameters: evolutionary and revolutionary advancement.

The former takes existing technology and improves its parameters, such as performance or production cost. The latter introduces a new approach that is generally incompatible with current products but has the potential to outperform them, making investment an attractive proposition in the long term. Both are essential to technological advancement, as one allows an approach to reach its limits while the other introduces concepts that enable new products to exceed those limitations.

The two categories combine to form the overall tendency of technological progress. When a new technology is introduced, it will typically lack the refinement necessary to outperform older approaches comprehensively. Therefore, it will have to capitalize on its existing advantages while research is in progress. The improvements will eventually increase the innovation’s capabilities to a point where the other approach will become obsolete and disappear from the market. However, there is an upper limit to the potential of the new technology, as well. As such, once the now-mainstream product achieves its best possible performance, it will stagnate until another revolutionary idea grows to a point where it can replace the now-obsolete method.

Main Innovation Patterns

The advent of the Internet and the global interconnectivity associated with it have introduced a variety of innovation patterns based on the massive amounts of information and processing power available. Powell, Gann, and Guo (2015) distinguish five primary types: product augmentation, technology disappearance, cooperation between companies, data trading, and turning internal routines into marketable products. While it should be noted that some of these approaches might not apply to every technological field, they provide a comprehensive overview of the IT industry.

Product augmentation is synonymous to evolutionary advancement, involving the collection of new data and performance improvements. Technology disappearance, in turn, reflects revolutionary progress and the phasing out of obsolete ideas. Cooperation between companies enables the creation of benefits based on the synergies between different products without significant improvements to the processes.

Data trading is mostly endemic to the field of big data, where enterprises can sell each other data in a raw or analyzed fashion with both participants benefitting as a result. Lastly, large companies typically create products for internal use that simplify or automate tedious or complicated routines, and at times these tools can be of interest to consumers after polish and reorientation are applied.


Technological innovation is central to the rapid advancement of humanity’s capabilities. Traditional types of progress include evolutionary and revolutionary improvements, which form the standard technology life cycle. However, modern technologies such as the Internet allow for considerably closer and easier cooperation between diverse and distant companies. As such, new patterns, such as cooperation, data trading, and transformation of internal tools into products, have come into existence. It is possible that further changes in the field will introduce new opportunities for innovation, and so businesses should stay at the forefront of progress to succeed.


Powell, J., Gann, D., & Guo, Y. (2015). [Video File]. Web.

Shmerling, S. (2013). [Video File]. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Types and Patterns of Innovation." July 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/types-and-patterns-of-innovation/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Types and Patterns of Innovation'. 14 July.

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