In­no­va­tion starts with ideation

More than ever, cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives con­sider prod­uct in­no­va­tion to be a com­pet­i­tive ne­ces­sity and a key fac­tor in driv­ing busi­ness growth through in­creased rev­enue, low­ered costs and re­duced time to mar­ket. This is re­flected in the fact that even dur­ing

Business First - - CONTENTS - By Con Ge­or­giou

Crit­i­cal to any in­no­va­tion is the prac­tice of ideation. Ideation is the process of gen­er­at­ing, de­vel­op­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing new ideas. Now more than ever in­no­va­tion can­not be a part time project. It re­quires an on­go­ing com­mit­ment to cer­tain prac­tices to en­sure that a busi­ness can out in­no­vate its com­pe­ti­tion.

How­ever, few or­gan­i­sa­tions in­vest in the prac­tice of Ideation, which re­quires a com­mit­ment to a cul­ture of safety and in­clu­sion. In Vel­teo, an In­no­va­tion Con­sul­tancy I co-founded, we ideated on a daily ba­sis by fos­ter­ing a cul­ture that democra­tised the cre­ation of ideas and fur­ther de­vel­oped them through ro­bust ideation prac­tices and pro­cesses.

In one ex­am­ple we de­vel­oped a Mo­bil­ity ap­pli­ca­tion for the FMCG in­dus­try, af­ter crowd­sourc­ing the name, the logo and the func­tion­al­ity with ev­ery mem­ber of the team. No­mad was born. It was de­vel­oped on the Ap­ple iOS plat­form and in­te­grated into Sales­force.com’s Force.com plat­form for back of­fice in­te­gra­tion with prod­uct data, sales call ac­tiv­ity and client data. Our ideation process was sim­ple: crowd source all ideas, fil­ter them through a ro­bust Fail Fast model where fea­si­bil­ity was tested and com­mit to build­ing and test­ing whilst pro­vid­ing feed­back to all con­trib­u­tors.

Not all in­no­va­tion needs to be about ef­fi­ciency though, in the case of No­mad

it was also about in­spi­ra­tion. No­mad pro­vided lead­er­ship with lead in­di­ca­tors that helped the busi­ness fur­ther in­no­vate through ac­cess to real time busi­ness in­tel­li­gence. This en­abled cus­tomers to tune their businesses in a much more ag­ile fash­ion and meet cus­tomer de­mands with faster turn around times.

Man­ag­ing in­no­va­tion is a crit­i­cal suc­cess fac­tor for de­ci­sion-mak­ing in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. It fo­cuses ex­plic­itly on the front-end of the op­er­a­tional phase of busi­ness in­no­va­tion, namely idea gen­er­a­tion and con­cept de­vel­op­ment. A dearth of ideas is not the main chal­lenge that many com­pa­nies ex­pe­ri­ence, on the con­trary, they have too many of them, with no clear way of ex­tract­ing and nur­tur­ing the po­ten­tially great ideas that will drive true mar­ket suc­cess.

Sim­ple web-en­abled ‘idea boxes’ that any­one can ac­cess have gen­er­ally proven in­ef­fec­tive. That is be­cause they merely act as collection points, with no pro­vi­sion for help­ing to iden­tify and de­velop those ideas with real po­ten­tial. The most suc­cess­ful ideation so­lu­tions sup­port tar­geted ‘idea events’ and idea de­vel­op­ment, while also en­sur­ing that the ideation process is linked to strat­egy.

Suc­cess­ful idea de­vel­op­ment is in fact fre­quently based on cam­paigns about a spe­cific strate­gic topic and aimed at a par­tic­u­lar, rel­e­vant com­mu­nity of in­no­va­tors. In our case it was to meet the needs of the FMCG mar­ket for a field force ap­pli­ca­tion. An ef­fec­tive idea de­vel­op­ment so­lu­tion is based on a set of proven best prac­tices. In our view, ad­her­ence to the fol­low­ing prin­ci­ples will spell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a port­fo­lio of aver­age ideas and a port­fo­lio of great ideas that have the po­ten­tial to be­come great prod­ucts. They are as fol­lows: • Sup­port idea de­vel­op­ment via cam­paigns that re­flect your cor­po­rate strat­egy • Au­to­mat­i­cally con­nect sub­mit­ters to other knowl­edge sources and lever­age those con­nec­tions to de­velop ideas through struc­tured dis­cus­sions and links to ex­ist­ing ideas • En­able cul­tures and com­mu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in in­no­va­tion (hav­ing the abil­ity to model these groups) • En­able an ap­pro­pri­ate work­flow of ideas (not the tra­di­tional stage- and phase-based pro­cesses, which will be ap­plied later dur­ing prod­uct de­vel­op­ment). An in­no­va­tion man­age­ment so­lu­tion en­ables the as­sess­ment of ideas by di­verse people in­side the com­pany, fa­cil­i­tates the anal­y­sis of sev­eral ideas at once, and in­cor­po­rates bench­mark­ing com­par­isons and in­put from third-party in­dus­try ex­perts.

When ex­plor­ing a po­ten­tial strate­gic mar­ket or tech­nol­ogy, it is of­ten use­ful to search the land­scape for po­ten­tially com­pet­i­tive in­tel­lec­tual property (IP). This helps a com­pany de­ter­mine whether it is free to op­er­ate in par­tic­u­lar iden­ti­fied ar­eas of op­por­tu­nity.

Ques­tions that should be con­sid­ered in­clude: 1. What is the rel­a­tive strength of our IP po­si­tion against ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial com­peti­tors in this field? 2. What new patent fil­ings, if any, have our com­peti­tors placed re­cently? What is the con­tent of those patents? Do they in­fringe on any ar­eas our com­pany has been con­tem­plat­ing? 3. Are there free­dom-to-op­er­ate

Man­ag­ing in­no­va­tion is a crit­i­cal suc­cess fac­tor for de­ci­sion-mak­ing in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.’

‘white spa­ces’ that could be of value to our or­gan­i­sa­tion and/or should be in­ves­ti­gated fur­ther? Are there ar­eas that we should in­vest in now to pro­tect our free­dom to op­er­ate against fu­ture com­pe­ti­tion?

A grow­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies have be­gun to use soft­ware to mine patent in­tel­li­gence as a way of un­cov­er­ing new prod­uct and mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties. These ef­forts help to fuel their idea de­vel­op­ment ef­forts.

An idea de­vel­op­ment so­lu­tion will make it easy to push high-value ideas to the ex­e­cu­tion stages of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. A com­pre­hen­sive, strate­gi­cally ori­ented so­lu­tion seam­lessly in­te­grates in­no­va­tion man­age­ment into the rest of the prod­uct de­vel­op­ment process, in­creas­ing the chances of mon­etis­ing on the right ideas.

Busi­ness In­no­va­tion recog­nises that while prod­uct in­no­va­tion de­pends on the ac­tions of cre­ative in­di­vid­u­als within the or­gan­i­sa­tion, im­prov­ing the busi­ness ben­e­fits of prod­uct in­no­va­tion is about in­creas­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ca­pac­ity to make ef­fec­tive de­ci­sions at all points of the prod­uct in­no­va­tion process.

Ef­fec­tive de­ci­sion-mak­ing of­fers nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits: • Process ex­e­cu­tion is aligned with strate­gies for grow­ing value and in­creas­ing mar­ket share • Those in­volved in prod­uct in­no­va­tion are able to se­lect and pri­ori­tise ‘win­ners’ Man­age­ment can avoid wast­ing pre­cious cre­ative re­sources on prod­uct ideas that are des­tined for fail­ure; and

In­no­va­tors are able to fol­low in­no­va­tion pro­cesses ef­fi­ciently, which im­proves time to mar­ket.

In or­der to achieve these ben­e­fits, de­ci­sion-mak­ing needs to be sup­ported by ef­fi­cient, struc­tured pro­cesses, which gen­er­ate the nec­es­sary data with­out hin­der­ing the cre­ativ­ity of those en­gaged in prod­uct in­no­va­tion.

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