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Mention "innovation" and people usually imagine the latest gadgets and the hottest tech toys from the Silicon Valley. But as Vision Critical founder Andrew Reid recently pointed out, tech's relationship with innovation is a lot more complicated than that. Technology can drive innovation - but it's not always the case.

Here are four articles I'm reading this week that speak to the complex relationship between technology and innovation:

  1. Cans make a comeback for beer marketers large and small

What you need to know:

Beer cans, long seen as the ugly stepchild of bottles, are making a comeback, thanks to technology that supporters say improves taste, smell and drinkability compared with old-school cans. The manufacturing advancements - which include "vented" cans and "extended lips" - are allowing cans to finally shed their reputation for tasting like aluminum. - Sonya Chudgar on AdAge

Tweet this: Marketers no longer see beer cans as the ugly stepchild of bottles. More info in this @visioncritical roundup: via @ElleSonya

  1. How CPG companies can embrace digital consumers to accelerate growth

What you need to know:

Growth Strategies: Unlocking the Power of the Consumer, the recent financial performance report conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and PwC US, outlines a 3-step process for how CPG companies can create new rules of engagement and increase profits, which includes identifying consumer needs and increasing engagement, harnessing consumer-driven innovation and developing direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels. - Nina Meijers on

Tweet this: 3 steps to engage #CPG customers in @GroceryMakers report, part of @visioncritical weekly roundup: via @nina_meijers

  1. Home Depot's resurrection: How one retailer made its own home improvements

What you need to know:

[K]nowing that we live in an era of price transparency, [Home Depot] bought competitive price intelligence tech vendor BlackLocus as the starting application for its new Innovation Lab in Austin, Texas. Competitive price intelligence applications allow a retailer to find out how its prices compare with competitors. They allow a retailer to keep its "low price" promise. The list of new technologies Home Depot has bought is long. Many of my company's most innovative clients count Home Depot as their valued customer. - Paula Rosenblum on

Tweet this: How @HomeDepot uses its #innovation lab to keep its low price promise: via @paula_rosenblum

  1. How technology complicates, benefits innovation

What you need to know:

Unlike ever before, companies can leverage technologies and techniques to mitigate risk and fine-tune innovations. The upside for organic ideas is that now they can be tested directly with customers, non-customers and other stakeholders. So, while technology has indeed made it a bit more complicated to innovate, it's also made easier, better and more profitable. - Andrew Reid, Chief Product Officer and Founder of Vision Critical, on

Tweet this: Organic ideas are harder to find. @visioncritical's @reidandrew on how #tech complicates innovation:

These articles show that innovation is in crisis. More than ever, marketers should be smarter in the way they marry technology with consumer insights to drive true innovation in their companies.

What articles caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comments.

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