White space is basically a gap your company has not yet filled. It may be a space that is totally empty, not filled by anyone, but it might be a space that other companies occupy but that your brand could benefit from being in as well. Think of white space as a new opportunity or new direction that your company can choose to go in. White space is not always easy to fill; sometimes it requires a new business model and/or serious innovation, but it can be extremely lucrative it so should not be overlooked.
Apple is a famous example of a company that moved into white space and transformed its entire business model as a result. You may be old enough to remember when Apple was a computer company. The iPod changed all that, leading Apple into the world of portable devices, including phones and tablets, and turning the brand into the cutting-edge technology company it is today.
Breakthrough inventions of something entirely new (like the iPod or the light bulb or the telephone) are pretty rare, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea of white space. Often, the most useful innovations are those that connect existing technologies in a useful way. Google is a great example of something that filled a white space by making it easier to find already existing webpages. Waze makes it possible to access GPS and crowdsourcing to improve the driving experience.
When we define the white space as the gap between what is available and what is necessary, we open the door to innovation. Look at the available solutions in your industry, see where they are lacking and what could improve them. That may be the white space that will lead you to a disruptive product.
At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.