It’s easy to recognize innovation when it comes in the form of a sexy new gadget with an abundance of media buzz. But sometimes, innovation can be small improvements that have a big impact, says Dan Debow, senior vice-president of emerging technologies at Salesforce.com.
“People think innovation is high tech,” says Mr. Debow, a judge for The Globe and Mail’s Innovators at Work contest. “It’s got to be either a group of hackers or something that’s being done in clean rooms with lab coats. What we forget is that innovation is often incremental improvements in the practical realities of normal businesses.”
A prime example of this kind of innovative thinking is the “Whale” tanker trailer devised by Mr. Thiessen, president and chief executive officer of Western Manufacturing Ltd., and an Innovators at Work winner in the Natural Resources category. The Whale is a 230-cubic-metre tanker trailer, designed to double the hauling and heating efficiency of mobile tanks used in the energy sector. The supersized tanker trailer – which is mostly used to transport water and other liquids for use in fracking – boasts an improved heating system and is about as big as Department of Transportation regulations allow.
It’s innovative because Mr. Thiessen took a traditional mode of transport and found a way to improve upon it, says Mr. Debow.
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