It has been a
big year in innovation, and in innovation
management systems, as well. A
couple obvious phenomena popped up and deserve to be noted. Perhaps, it will give others food for thought
as they close out the year and get ready for 2013. Here are some trends I’ve picked up by
talking to those responsible for innovation at large organizations over this
Companies may not be able to commit to a long term strategy but feel fine embracing the notion of asking their employees for ideas on a certain topic. “How can we do this one thing better?”, “How can we best redesign this control panel?” or just a general idea box have appeal. These programs have finite cost, require little training and are likely to produce tangible results.
Social media has the potential to provide free labor. Organizations find there are parties interested in their topic because they are consumers of the company’s products; the company’s product has an effect on the civilization folks live in, or just to participate in the intellectual exercise. Companies have always tapped into groups with a vested interest like vendors, partners or paid academics, but now the public will willingly participate with the right incentive and call to action. This exercise dovetails nicely with the short term challenge listed above and can take the form of a joint internal employee/client campaign, or just an intriguing question posed on Facebook (and everything in between).
Perhaps this is because the CIO offices are asking for guidance, but after a few fits and starts, the analysts out there are finally producing Innovation Technology segment overviews. They are looking at the top software vendors, trying to compare and contrast them, and trying to rate them based on the traditional criteria applied to other areas. Innovation isn’t CRM or ERP yet, but we’re getting started.
A number of idea management software vendors began offering “innovation as a service” by the beginning of last year to mixed results. The essential flaws in these program’s approaches were the nature of the “service”.
Software vendors offered either the same Innovation Experts they always bring to the table in any deployment or they assigned Community Managers. In both cases it seems the consultants knew innovation, but they could never learn the vertical industry or the specific company as well as the user community. But this offering eventually evolved to a successful hybrid.
Companies can assign in house experts to be the moderator of a challenge, while the software vendor provides experts to operate the back end functionality of the software. A perfect blend especially when coupled with the short term challenges discussed above in section number 1.
Most importantly, large organizations have recognized the benefits of supporting their Innovation Strategy with technology and are working hard to create climates where an employee’s contribution toward something more than what is associated with his day job, is respected.