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Innovation Audit for Malaysian SME: SWOT Analysis and Recommendations

A) Rationale

Part of the skill that that an innovation manager needs to have is the ability to communicate innovation-related challenges succinctly and effectively through all levels of an organization. This assignment invites you to "simulate" an innovation audit for an SME in Malaysia. You will conclude on the status of innovation in that SME using knowledge of the necessary innovation concepts.

B) Instructions

1. Write a SWOT analysis/innovation audit summary for a small local Malaysian company’s innovative capabilities.

2. The scope of innovations considered should be guided by the 4Ps of innovation (i.e. paradigm, process, production and positioning).

3. Your report is an innovation audit summary. It should contain four main headings corresponding to: strength, weakness, opportunity and threats. These headings in turn should contain material that you obtained through a SWOT analysis. Each heading cover at least 5 main themes.

4. Even though you are simulating an innovation audit, your conclusions should be derived from actual facts or secondary sources related to Malaysian SMEs.

C) Structure and Content of the Innovation Audit Report

The following are relevant themes that you may choose to detail as part of the audit conclusions. The “probing questions” are meant to simulate questions you would direct to the stakeholders of the business of your choice.

Note 1: it may be useful to view strengths-weaknesses as two sides of the same coin of "innovation capability" (i.e. internal environment).

Probing questions: what is the current business good at (i.e. best-in-class)? Does the top management support innovative initiatives by embedding routines and mechanisms into the business process? How is the business model/technology unique, compared to others on offer in the market (i.e. the deviant's advantage)? What are some intellectual property and assets it can leverage? How innovation-focused and cohesive are its teams?


Key notions to consider: managerial and cultural aspects of innovation/prediction and forecasting/closed innovation/technological diffusion/absorptive capacity/limited co-creation/complex product systems/strategic-fit of innovation projects/learning to "unlearn".

Probing questions: what are some issues that this business has with its culture and reputation? Are these weaknesses common to other businesses within the industry? How can this business operate more effectively in terms of its operations and processes? How easily could new entrants replicate its business operations and processes? Are its innovations human-centered or technology-centered? Is creativity being nurtured and rewarded? Or is it just lip-service?

Note 2: It may be useful to view opportunities-threats as two sides of the same coin of “fields of play” (i.e. external environment).

A. Opportunities

Key notions to consider: opportunity-sensing around the "fields of play"/market pull/Peter Drucker's 7 conditions/social innovations

Probing questions: what opportunities can this venture exploit in the current market? What’s the addressable market size? Which market segments appear to be the most promising (and why)? What new technological trends/innovations could complement this venture or be synergistic to it? What are the key demographics/sociological trends that may be advantageous to this venture?

B. Threats

Key notions to consider: science push/disruptive innovations/national innovation systems/"responsible business"

Probing questions: what are some current developments that represent a clear and present danger to the organization's ability to survive or thrive? Are there developments in the present, or at the edge of the planning horizon that is likely to be outside the control of the organization? Why is this so? Is it because these developments lie outside of the jurisdiction of the organization? Or is it because there is no way to effectively benchmark, or obtain strategic intelligence about competitors and markets?

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