Three Things You Need From Three Categories of Innovation Management Software

As innovation activities in business have increased, so has the number and variety of applications for innovation management.  What types of tools are available and what features do you need.

There Are Many Innovation Management Applications To Choose From

Innovation management applications address the needs in the early stage, ‘fuzzy front end’, of the innovation process.  These include idea generation, evaluation and selection, as well as open innovation and innovation inventory management.   This is a growing segment of software that is made up of mostly cloud-based (online) applications.  Software applications are available from both specialist providers and as a part of an enterprise system.  Because many applications appear to offer the same capabilities, selecting the right application requires selecting the best software to your company’s structure, needs and end users.

Adoption Of Innovation Applications Is Growing Rapidly

Companies have been quick to embrace innovation software for a variety of reasons:
–        Innovation teams are finding ways to respond to reduced resources by adopting software that helps them reduce costs and expenses.
–        There is an increasing reliance on open innovation, driving a need for innovation teams to be better connected to all their innovation sources, both inside and outside their company.
–        Business is in a trend away from breakthrough innovations towards incremental and renewal innovations.  This increases the impact and effectiveness of these software solutions for innovation teams.
–        There is greater familiarity with the value innovation software provides as more companies have experience with portals and open innovation campaigns.

Innovation Applications Generally Promote A Value Proposition Based On Improving The Company’s Innovation Funnel And Saving Cost

–        Increases the innovation funnel with more ideas from more sources
–        Reduces costs and speeds time to market by rediscovering and reusing ideas from your existing pool of innovations
–        Makes it easier to discover innovations offered by outside suppliers
–        Improves go/no-go decisions and increases transparency
–        Increases participation in innovation activities from throughout the organization

It’s important to Choose the Right Innovation Software

Choosing the right innovation software for your company is critical to its positive impact on your business.  This is a category that also appears to have a high level of abandonment.

What’s Available in Innovation Software

Innovation software functionality falls into three broad categories.   Many individual applications provide functionality that overlaps more than one.  Different innovation software applications are targeted different end users. Some are focused on collecting ideas from throughout the company, others such as InnoEngines.com, are tools specifically for new product development professionals.

Idea Collection and Prioritization

Idea management tools focused on the collection and prioritization of ideas makes up the far majority of innovation applications.  Most innovation management applications are structured to capture ideas from throughout a company through online portals, websites and email some offer physical kiosks. The applications then provide a structured process of evaluation by a selected group to identify the “best” innovations for the company to move forward with.  They help the company increase its innovation funnel take action on emerging opportunities.

Inventory Growth and Management

Generally designed for professional innovation teams, innovation growth and management applications help companies capture, organize and manage their entire inventory of innovations.  These applications address the needs of both existing ideas from within the company and innovations available from outside suppliers and vendors.  These applications are a good fit with companies that have active innovation organizations and are looking for tools to better manage and grow their inventory of innovations.  Applications that connect to suppliers and vendors enable open innovation and improve innovation discovery.  These applications help innovation teams quickly respond to emerging market opportunities without additional costs.

Social Collaboration

These applications make the idea collection and evaluation a transparent and social process with features and design to help increase participation.  Social collaboration apps give users the opportunity to see, comment on and refine the submissions of others.  They generally also include mechanisms to rate and rank ideas in order to build consensus for action.  Often these applications include game systems, with feedback, scoring, leaderboards, badges and other devices to motivate engagement.

Three Things You Need in Your Innovation Software

Regardless of the category of innovation software that best fits your company’s needs, there are three things that you need for it to have a positive impact.

Easy to Use for the People Who Are Really Going To Use It:

Different users have different needs and workflows. Will everyone at your company use it or is it for your innovation team?  Test and evaluate to assure the application you choose is designed for the end user in your company.

Flexibility and Customization:

Make sure your innovation software can be easily modified to meet your needs now and in the future.  With out the ability to make adjustments as experience with the software grows, the application will be quickly abandoned.

Integrated Tools to Eliminate Busy Work

Poorly designed innovation software can create as much, if not more, work than it solves. Applications that let you create presentations of innovation records automatically, and export PDFs can significantly reduce the workload of innovation professionals

Highlighting InnoEngines

A new entrant to the innovation software space is InnoEngines. Their application, developed in conjunction with a company in the global 100, is designed to meet the needs of professional innovation, new product development and packaging teams.

InnoEngines integrates idea capture, open innovation and inventory management into an easy to use, web-based application. It is a cost effective solution for actively managing a company’s expanding innovation catalog. It integrates open innovation and discovery by enabling outside companies to showcase their innovation catalogs.  InnoEngines also features a powerful presentation creation tool that allow users to rapidly find, select and present innovation records without leaving the application.  Presentations are automatically saved as PDFs for sharing.  InnoEngines offers a powerful innovation management tool designed for professional innovation departments.

photo credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi via photopin cc

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