What Is Innovation Management? – Your Top 7 Innovation FAQs Answered

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“Eureka!” We’ve all heard this famous ancient Greek term for “I’ve found it”. But how did it enter common parlance?

The story goes that in the third century BC, the king of Syracuse ordered that Archimedes – the famous Greek inventor – find a way to determine whether his crown was made entirely out of pure gold, or whether he had been cheated. After agonizing in vain to come up with a solution, Archimedes ran himself a bath. Upon entering, he noticed that the more his body sunk, the more water was displaced – making the displaced water a precise measurement of his volume. Recognizing that gold was heavier than other metals – and could thus be tested in the same way – Archimedes exclaimed “Eureka!”

Archimedes’ “Eureka” moment.

Enterprise businesses are constantly on the lookout for their next ‘eureka’ moment – an innovative solution to a strategic business problem. Of course, most recognize that simply happening upon these solutions is not an option, and that innovation needs to be cultivated and managed effectively in order to become sustainable and repeatable.

But what is innovation management, exactly? What does it entail, how expensive is it, and how is it any different from simply collecting ideas from employees and customers? In this, the first entry in our innovation management FAQ blog series, we provide answers to these burning questions – and much more!

In a nutshell, innovation management is the systematic process of introducing ‘something new’ to an organization – be it a product, workflow, or business model. While there are various frameworks for this process, they usually   include management of the following areas:

Ideation: Making sure ideas from internal or external stakeholders are collected, refined, and implemented efficiently

Culture: Creating a culture of innovation where new ideas are encouraged, and stakeholders are incentivised to share and comment on insights

Resources: Managing the capabilities and materials an organization has at their disposal for bringing about innovative change – including funding, IP, & human capital

Structures : Leveraging the processes within an organization that can be geared towards optimizing innovation

Strategy : Defining the various ‘plans of attack’ for harnessing resources and ideas to reach innovation goals incrementally or disruptively

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to innovation management – as the objectives of businesses will differ extensively. However, innovation management always entails establishing a process by which a company can continuously and effectively promote innovative activity.

As outlined above, innovation management is a broad systematic concept, which often incorporates idea management. As the name suggests, idea management is the process of ensuring new ideas are organized efficiently to meet corporate goals. Typically, this involves ideas moving through these stages:

Collaboration: Sharing the ideas that have been submitted with target audiences so they can be discussed and developed according to the comments they receive

Evaluation: Making sure ideas are assessed against specific criteria so that the best ones are selected for progression towards implementation

Implementation: Designating teams to implement a fully-formed idea efficiently

Monitoring: Tracking the ROI of ideas that have been implemented and making further refinements to ensure their ongoing viability

Although idea management can be a key ingredient for achieving groundbreaking innovation, it’s full effectiveness as a methodology can only be realized when it’s combined with the other areas of innovation management.

This class of software allows businesses to manage their various innovation practices digitally – enabling all relevant data around an innovation project to be organized and promoted in a secure, centralized location.

The terms ‘innovation management software’ and ‘idea management software’ are often used interchangeably. This is because most of the major innovation management software platforms facilitate idea submission, evaluation, and implementation. Other staples of this kind of software are collaboration features – i.e, giving users the means to brainstorm, comment, and vote on ideas – and gamification elements – i.e, providing rewards and recognition to users who perform actions on the platform.

Innovation management software from high-end vendors – such as that offered by Qmarkets – offers gamification and collaboration features to engage users.

Innovation management software from high-end vendors can sometimes enable admins to configure and modify the workflow to suit specific innovation projects. Data visualization functionality – such as graphs displaying the ROI metrics a new initiative has generated – are also standard amongst enterprise-grade vendors. Some of these vendors also have features to accommodate advanced use-cases, such as open innovation crowdsourcing, tech scouting.

In general, the price and pricing structure for idea management software will depend on how you wish to deploy it – that is, either on-premises or as Software as a Service (SaaS).

The former, available for a fixed payment, entails the software being deployed directly to your servers – ensuring full compliance with your IT department’s guidelines. It’s a great option if you want increased control over your platform without having to worry about connectivity or innovation management security.

The most common way of implementing Idea Management is SaaS  – hosted externally on a secured cloud. It’s usually available for an annual license fee, however some vendors are able to accommodate time-limited projects. The advantages of SaaS is that it can be installed rapidly, allows upgrades to be completed easily on a regular basis, and is often more affordable than on-premises deployment. However, it affords less control in terms of IT compliance.

Innovation management software is typically available for deployment on-premises (available for a fixed payment) or as SaaS (available for annual license fee).

A range of factors can also influence the pricing for an innovation management platform. Separate costs can be incurred for additional configuration and integration requirements, the scale of your project, as well as any additional features or custom developments.

You may want to take advantage of the benefits provided by innovation management software if you’re looking to:

  • Create a culture that incentivizes ideation and collaboration, engages employees, and improves transparency throughout your organization
  • Drive more ideas across a variety of use cases (from NPD to waste reduction)
  • Ensure ideas are developed and promoted in a secure manner, maximizing the potential for returns
  • Launch open innovation or crowdsourcing campaigns to improve customer loyalty and remain up to date with burgeoning market trends
  • Establish yourself, and other relevant decision makers at your company, as pioneers for crowdsourced innovation
  • Gain practical insights for sustaining continuous improvement
  • Optimize ongoing ideation performance.

In short, innovation management can help you ensure that large-scale innovation projects – involving numerous internal or external stakeholders – are run effectively and produce measurable results. This, in turn, will help optimize innovation practices on a company-wide basis.

It’s important to strike a balance between the number of idea contributors involved in your innovation project and your capacity for managing their ideas. Although it can be tempting to involve as many people as possible in your project, it might not be possible to manage the influx of ideas that you receive.

To maximize contributors and manage their ideas efficiently, it can be effective to use an innovation platform that allows individual ‘tenancies’ to be created. These tenancies can cater to unique audiences, without losing a global reach.

To ensure that your innovation management system is adopted by your employee base, it’s important to secure leadership buy-in. At least one member of senior staff should serve as an ambassador for your project. The ambassador will convey the importance of innovation management throughout the company, emphasizing that it is not just a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ initiative, but rather a practice that will empower them to have their say in the development of the company.

It is recommended that at least one senior member of staff is allocated to champion the cause of innovation management throughout the company.

In addition involving target internal and external stakeholders to contribute ideas to your campaign, it’s also useful to involve designated experts. Enterprise-grade innovation management platforms will allow you to assign users with specific knowledge or skillsets an ‘Expert’ role, enabling them to contribute key insights on innovation initiatives.

Integrating your innovation management platform with your existing HR portal can serve as an effective way to display employee expertise. Certain innovation management platforms – such as that offered by Qmarkets – can automatically recommend users based on relevant criteria and experience with similar ideas/campaigns. Campaign managers can also manually assign users to expert status based on their unique experience.

We’ve now covered the basics when it comes to answering ‘what is innovation management?’. The next question is “how can my company launch an innovation management project?” Stay tuned for our next innovation management FAQ blog for the answer!

If you have any other questions relating to this topic, or you’d like to discover how Qmarkets can help you fuel innovation at your company, contact us today!

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