Innovation Manager: description, duties, and how to become one

The Innovation Manager is a professional figure of considerable importance for the company’s competitiveness, both in the national and international markets, thanks to the planning and management of digital transformation processes of companies. Digitization is precisely the main challenge that many companies are facing to keep up with the change that the digital market imposes on the corporate world today.

I will now tell you everything there is to know about this new digital profession. Specifically, I will tell you:

  • who is the Innovation Manager, and what is its role;
  • how to become an Innovation Manager;
  • how much is the salary of the innovation professional;

If you, too, are among the aspiring Innovation Managers and want to learn how to build an innovative proposal that can guide companies toward change, don’t miss the opportunity to enroll in one of our Digital Marketing Courses.

Who is and what does the Innovation Manager do?

The Digital Innovation Manager has the task of driving business change to improve their management and contribute to their technological and innovative progress. He is a professional specializing in the digital field, able to carry out technological acceleration projects and implement processes necessary for the reorganization of companies on the path towards digitization and for the development of greater awareness of issues related to change and the digital revolution. It implements many activities, very different from each other, to complete the digital transformation project of companies, dealing in particular with:

  • business process analysis;
  • identification of technologies and technological partners to be involved;
  • observation of competitors’ activities with a view to digital transformation;
  • promote cultural change at all company levels.

It also helps to train its employees to further increase their competitiveness in the market. These are activities that play a primary role in the innovation process, understood as the ability to develop ideas and technologies aimed at increasing and improving the goods and services offered by companies. This makes the figure of the Innovation Manager increasingly sought after by companies grappling with digital and technological transformation processes, which necessarily requires a review of the internal organization of the same.

innovation manager using laptop

What is the role of the Innovation Manager? Accompanying companies in the process of changing their processes. Specifically, it can be a promoter, with the role of spreading the necessary knowledge of innovation, or a service provider for other innovators, dealing with patents or subsidies. In fact, it can take on several roles:

  • idea seeker: seek and develop ideas, verifying new sources of innovation through brainstorming activities with company employees and using the right tools;
  • ideas manager: collects, evaluates, and selects initiatives deriving from a wide variety of sources and which also reflect the brainstorming activity carried out with employees;
  • innovation explorer: covers the role of innovation scout by looking for ideas and new technologies outside the company;
  • CIP manager (an acronym for Continuous Improvement Process): has the role of managing the continuous improvement process and the quality of innovations;
  • innovation strategist: analyze opportunities, risks, strengths, and weaknesses of what you want to achieve from the digital change process;
  • futurologist: works closely with the innovation strategist providing him with research on future market trends and their possible impact on the company;
  • organizational developer: establishes the optimal conditions for the digital revolution to take place successfully within the company;
  • innovation project manager: accompanies the innovative process in each development phase to deliver it, already in the operational phase, to the Product Manager;
  • developer: plays an essential role in the life cycle of the product, developing it and implementing the technical solution. His task comes to an end when a working prototype is obtained to be delivered to the production and sales department, continuing to be the main contact person for questions of a technical nature and supervision of the progress of the product on the market;
  • portfolio manager and controller: responsible for all projects. Select the right ones so that maximum value and company success derive from them, measuring data related to the success of the innovation strategy and initiating corrective measures in case of deviations from the objective.

In order to perform these functions in the best way, the Innovation Manager uses tools, such as the Agile methodology, which allow him to innovate the company by optimizing the workflow.

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How to Become an Innovation Manager

Without a doubt, in the current scenario of continuous technological changes, the Innovation Manager is a key figure for companies wishing to innovate and adapt better to new market scenarios, taking advantage of his ability to interpret change. Above all, those who carry out this profession have experience in one of the various areas of digitization: 70% of innovation professionals base their training background in the ICT sector, adapting perfectly to the purposes of technological acceleration and digital transformation programs for companies. It also has the ability to:

  • develop key coordination and execution skills;
  • get to know the panorama of innovation expert interlocutors;
  • gain insight into key trends.

Other excellent experiences for the role of Innovation Manager are in the Research and Development, Marketing, and Consulting sectors. Finally, only 15% come directly from previous experiences in the role of Innovation Director in corporate contexts.

What are the study paths dedicated to those who want to become an expert in innovative strategies? The growing demand from companies has made it necessary to create ad hoc study courses based on knowledge of new technologies for the collection and interpretation of enormous amounts of data combined with the ability to integrate machines, processes, and people. Their knowledge of new digital technologies is also indispensable for carrying out the relationship with suppliers and for sales, production, and marketing. The objective of the courses is to offer the acquisition of new business models and technologies enabling innovation and Industry 4.0.

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Required skills

The Innovation Manager is a real innovation leader whose role is to know how to contribute to the organization and management of the technological acceleration processes of the companies, with which it relates to using specific soft skills essential to improving hostile business contexts on a daily basis.

innovation manager competencies

For example, those characterized by the “not invented here” define their fear of experimenting with external solutions. As a manager, the digital innovation expert must possess the following soft skills:

  • leadership: understood as the ability to motivate people and stimulate change
  • strategic vision: it is the ability to identify the elements and trends capable of allowing a transformation with a positive impact on the company business or its reference market, motivating the company in its evolution process;
  • creativity and curiosity: these are essential skills to stimulate the search for new opportunities for change with an innovative spirit and open-mindedness;
  • change management: understood as the ability to guide change, essential in Digital Transformation projects;
  • storytelling: it is a persuasive communication technique based on narration that stimulates identification and sharing by the listener. By building and sharing stories based on shared personal experiences, it is easier to engage and persuade people and accelerate innovative processes.

The professional specialized in innovation management is, therefore, able to create products, processes, and business models with high digital content and value for customers. The projects he manages include coordinating the work of the project team, identifying innovative ideas, and implementing them up to commercialization on the market. This requires specific technical knowledge:

  • knowledge of the main ICT technologies;
  • the ability to plan, implement and use databases to be applied to business processes and to
  • products/services for the market;
  • identification and analysis of customer needs;
  • knowledge of the legal aspects inherent to innovative processes;
  • management of creative processes and complex projects for the development and market launch of new products, solutions, and projects with attention also to environmental and social sustainability;
  • acquisition and management of economic resources.

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Work opportunities

The professional opportunities for a Digital Innovation Manager are in the sectors of industry, finance, commerce, or services with a high complexity and strong innovative intensity, such as IT services, smart environments, sustainable mobility, services, energy, and telecommunications. Between professional and managerial figures, the requirements of the Innovation Manager include:

  • Certified incubator consultant;
  • risk managers;
  • Corporate Reporting Manager;
  • Digital Managers;
  • Innovative Start-Up Consultant;
  • Chief Financial Officer;
  • Project Manager in PMI of the ICT sector;
  • Responsible for the development and implementation of projects created to innovate companies internally or promote a network of relationships with external parties;
  • Responsible for the Research and Development function of companies.

How much does an Innovation Manager earn?

Being an Innovation Manager is a profession that requires numerous transversal skills and various soft skills since, in order to carry out digital transformation projects, it is necessary to act on the corporate culture and on the resistance of the individual figures involved at different levels.

how much does innovation manager earn

You can aspire to a gross annual salary ranging from 60,000 to 150,000 dollars based on the following:

  • previous experiences and skills brought to the company;
  • if the company decides to hire an Innovation Manager who works within the company;
  • if the company decides to turn to external consultancy.

The gross annual salary for an employee can be a good starting point for negotiating an external consultancy in which the parties agree on the duration of the project, the commitment of the Innovation Manager in the company, and, consequently, the related remuneration. It is a medium-high level role to which due professional importance is recognized and whose salary range is also conditioned by the type of company.

Conclusions and Career Advice

The article in which I tell you about the Innovation Manager ends here. I hope I have been exhaustive on the subject and have helped to clarify the doubts you may have had about it before reading it. If you are interested in learning more about how to innovate your company, I am giving you a suggestion to help you deal better with the new corporate business 4.0: as the Innovation Manager profession itself teaches, study and information are the springboards for launch towards the best choice to digitize your company.


Do you want to become an Innovation Manager and exploit the potential of digital transformation to innovate companies?
Contact one of our experts and build your career in digital innovation!



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