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Transformative innovation

‘Six Degrees of Innovation’ report, commissioned by AT&T and conducted at Cambridge Judge, identifies six successful business models to guide companies.

Transformative Innovation

There are “Six Degrees of Innovation” – six matching patterns between technological change and market needs – that characterise successfully transformative business innovation, concludes a study at Cambridge Judge Business School commissioned by AT&T.

Stelios Kavadias

Professor Stelios Kavadias

The study issued today was headed by Stelios Kavadias, Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth at Cambridge Judge and the School’s Director of Research.

The study provides a guide for companies around the world to recognise opportunities for transformative innovation, and to make the most of technology in achieving this.

The authors interviewed senior executives from international companies in the energy, banking, retail, transportation, education and healthcare sectors, and concluded that businesses transforming themselves successfully exhibit one or more of six shared patterns between technology and market demand – the “Six Degrees of Innovation.”

The Six Degrees of Innovation are:

  1. Tailor-made products and services: Meeting customers’ individual needs, such as online retailers’ recommendation services.
  2. Sustainability: Minimizing waste and managing resource costs, such as companies which harvest and recycle parts.
  3. Jointly owned assets: Boosting efficiency and lowering costs, for example in peer-to-peer businesses.
  4. Only paying for service that is used: like car-share companies.
  5. Effective monitoring of supply chains: such as support service businesses that use handheld tracking systems to better monitor the supply chain.
  6. Using data to easily adapt to customer needs: such as clothing companies that maintain little inventory and can quickly produce new designs to meet fashion trends.

Steve McGaw, AT&T’s Chief Marketing Officer, said: “You can see technology and innovation changing every industry. We’re always trying to better understand the mechanics of innovation, so we can help companies lead their industries. The Six Degrees of Innovation provides a tool for executive teams to adapt their business models and adopt the right technology to succeed.”

Stelios Kavadias said: “This is the most comprehensive study we have ever undertaken on innovation. The Six Degrees of Innovation are present in successful innovators across all industry sectors. We believe this concept breaks new ground in identifying how and why innovation occurs.”


cjbs-250-anniversary-logo-100x100Celebrating 25 years of excellence
Cambridge Judge Business School, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, leverages the power of academia for real-world impact. Throughout the rest of the year, we are highlighting some of the recent initiatives that demonstrate our impact on people, institutions and society at large. Find out more about our 25th anniversary