Sport Innovation/Skins Sportswear/Comparison with a large enterprise
In this section of the article, a comparison of innovation processes taking place in SKINS and International Management Group (IMG) will be made. IMG, fitting into a large enterprise category, is an extremely diversified organisation with multiple areas of focus, such as events, media production and distribution, talent and player management, sponsorship consulting and brand licensing. Hence, the nature of innovation will differ from the processes occurring at SKINS.
The first difference between SMEs and large enterprises is in the degree and focus of innovation. SKINS, by applying the compression garment technology into a sporting context, employs a degree of innovation which is somewhere in the middle of extension and duplication. IMG, on the other hand, developed a unique training platform for young athletes by partnering with an apparel company Under Armour. This partnership generates advantages for both parties because Under Armour can benefit from extensive experience of IMG in running talent academies, whereas IMG can use the high performance and training expertise of Under Armour. The innovation is therefore a synthesis of existing concepts and products.
These examples demonstrate different approaches to innovation taken by SMEs and large enterprises in general. Small companies usually attempt to develop a unique concept and turn it into a marketable idea (for example, cooling effect of compression garments). It can be either an introduction of a new technology for niche markets or in other cases, the company may attempt to open a new market. Large enterprises adopt a slightly different approach. As the case study of IMG showed, big organisations not only develop innovative products but given their scale and broad portfolio of activities, they are actively involved in the innovation of organisational processes. For example, IMG Sports Technology Group provides a web-based platform for easier management of events, member information and online auctions and shops. In other words, their innovation is also aimed at simplifying processes within the organisation. Furthermore, the partnership between IMG and Under Armour is another example of how a large company can pursue other avenues of innovation.
The second and obvious difference between innovation of SMEs and large enterprises is in access to resources. Taking into account the scale of IMG, large enterprises will naturally have more financial and human capital. A large pool of employees presents a higher possibility of innovative ideas. On the other hand, small teams in SMEs can consist of people sharing the same passion, values and goals and such environment is more likely to nurture innovation. This bond can be lacking in large enterprises.
In conclusion, SMEs and large enterprises take slightly different approaches to innovation. Apart from product innovation, large organisations have to be innovative in terms of organisational processes in order to reach higher effectiveness. The other difference is in the amount of financial and human resources. Large companies have an advantage in this respect but SMEs can capitalise on the small size and bond of their innovation teams.