What is technological innovation?

Technological innovation is innovation in processes and products through the development or implementation of a new technology in order to optimize performance and results.

The creation of the digital camera, capable of taking photographs with superior image quality and without the need for film and developing, is an example of technological innovation in products.

The creation of a camera that is 100 grams lighter than the previous model and includes a new image stabilization feature as well.

The development of robots for stock logistics, which are able to identify the items of an order and remove them on the corresponding shelves, as is currently done in Amazon warehouses, is an example of technological innovation in processes.

And the implementation of a stock control software, which allows to track the consumption of each item and plan the company’s purchases, as well.

These examples that you have just seen show that this kind of innovation does not always consist in a big break with what existed before; in many cases, it is only an improvement on what already existed. That’s why we talk about two types of technological innovation: incremental and radical.

The incremental innovation is the one that promotes improvements in relation to what already exists. It brings sustentation to the company, allowing it to remain competitive over time; it has lower costs and risks, but also offers less return.

Meanwhile, radical innovation is the one that promotes breakthroughs. It brings growth to the company, allowing it to make great leaps and position itself ahead of competitors; it has higher costs and risks, but also greater potential for return.


The reason to invest on this kind of innovation is, simply, survival. The market is highly competitive, and companies need to innovate to protect their position and gain more space. On the contrary, they are surpassed by competitors with better products and more efficient processes.

It is important to keep in mind that technological innovation is a strategic issue. One should not innovate by innovating. Thus, if the cost of developing or implementing a certain technology exceeds the gains, moving forward can be a “shot in the foot”.


To facilitate the understanding of the concept of technological innovation, we brought six examples of innovations that have changed the world. To the younger generations, they may seem trivial; however, each one has contributed to building the way of life we have today.


The first modern computers emerged during World War II, developed by the US Navy in partnership with Harvard University. Harvard Mark I occupied a space of 120m³ and its processing capacity, although impressive for the time, would be considered very limited today: it needed three seconds to multiply two ten-digit numbers.

The first personal computer, Kenbak-1, appeared about thirty years later, in 1971. In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed the Apple I. In the following years, personal computers went through countless incremental innovations, becoming smaller, lighter, more powerful and with a more attractive design.


Without a doubt, the computer is a very important technological innovation. However, it might not have been able to transform the world the way it did if it were not for another innovation: the operating systems.

Before, computers were operated by keys, which had to be turned on and off to activate certain functions. Between 1955 and 1965, systems appeared in batch, which used punched cards to operate the computers. Then, until the 1970s, innovation was command line systems. Finally, from the 1980s on, systems with a graphical interface, as we know it today, appeared.


The Internet was created during the Cold War period, as a solution for the exchange and sharing of confidential military information. After the end of the Cold War, this project was carried out, with a perspective of more general use for communication. Thus, in 1992, Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web. In about ten years, until 2003, more than 600 million people were already connected to the network.


GPS, the acronym for Global Positioning System, is another technological innovation that has changed the world and started with a military purpose. It was developed as part of a U.S. Department of Defense program.

The first test of a receiver took place in 1982. The system became fully operational in 1995. Today, besides being adopted in navigation applications, it has many other purposes; scientists, for example, use the system to record with maximum precision when and where a certain sample was collected.


Artificial intelligence is one of the technological innovations that took a great leap during World War II.

In 1943, the first article on neural networks, produced by Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts, was published. In 1950, Claude Shannon published an article on how to program a chess machine. In the same year, Alan Turing developed his famous test to determine if a machine can pose as a human during a conversation.

In 1956, the Dartmouth Conference took place, considered a major milestone in the development of artificial intelligence. Only two years later, in 1958, Lisp programming language appeared, which became the standard for AI systems. In 1959, Arthur Samuel, MIT engineer, used the term “machine learning” for the first time.

Today, we find artificial intelligence applied in several ways: virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, autonomous vehicles, intelligent houses, among others.

Technological innovation in the field of software for innovation management in companies. It brings a solution for innovation management in organizations, replacing other tools that bring few results, such as complex spreadsheets and intranets not intuitive.