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This chapter is from the book

FOAK's Aim Is Leadership and Growth

FOAK has a 14-year track record of creating value. With, on average, 15 projects completed each year (out of about 20 to 25 approved for funding), FOAK successfully transfers assets for reuse from 70% of the FOAK projects completed.

In summary, the payoff for the partners working in this middle ground is the possibility of doing something that provides leadership and growth from the following:

  • Early access to game-changing technologies
  • First market adopter advantage
  • Access to world-renowned researchers
  • Skills and knowledge transfer
  • Firsthand experience with emerging technologies and new business models
  • Direct input into IBM's requirements process
  • An investment funding model that minimizes the client's investment

IBM benefits from the following:

  • Accelerated delivery of new technologies to the market:
    • New offerings
    • IBM Research Services engagements (described in Chapter 6, "The FOAK Process: Phases II and III")
    • Asset licensing
    • Enhancements to core technologies
  • Accelerated solution sales:
    • References
    • Proof points
    • Reuse
    • Differentiation
  • Linking IBM Research's strategic initiatives to real client problems
  • Valuable experience and thought leadership
  • Headlights into emerging market opportunities
  • Mindshare in the innovation space

For these reasons, clients continue to line up to participate in FOAK projects, and IBM continues to provide the funding and strategic direction to make them happen.

The FOAK leadership (the FOAK Board, described in the next section) and the Program Management Team (described in Chapter 10, "Portfolio Management") have identified many best practices. Some —criteria—especially those for tying the projects to strategic objectives and ensuring client commitment—have become part of how FOAK does business. But all these areas continue to be under review. In fact, 2001 became a turning point for FOAK (as discussed later in this chapter). The need for change was raised because the FOAK Board did regular, systematic evaluations of how those participating in the program did the work. As opposed to many other innovation programs, the FOAK leadership sees FOAK as unfinished, with plenty of opportunities for improvement remaining.

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