Buyers Guide to Enterprise Innovation Platforms


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Staying ahead of the competition requires a steady pipeline of innovation. A consistent, well-managed innovation process can be the single most critical differentiator for you organization's long term success. A plethora of enterprise social networks (ESN) and Social Business solutions (SBS) have emerged over the last 10 years to help improve transparency and communication in companies. These lead to some innovation through serendipity, but the problem is that they don't result in a steady repeatable pipeline of innovation or the certainty of collaborating with purpose.
A new class of social software, called Enterprise Innovation Platforms (EIP) have emerged to solve this problem. What Salesforce (CRM) did for sales methodology - i.e visibility and tracking into a methodical sales pipeline, is what Enterprise Innovation Platforms are doing for product and process innovation in companies. These SaaS platforms use techniques from social software, crowdsourcing, game theory, behavioral analysis and big data analytics to help business grow faster, achieve cost efficiencies and mitigate the risk of being disrupted by nimble competitors. This guide gives you 5 key things you should consider when evaluating such platforms.

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Buyers Guide to Enterprise Innovation Platforms

  1. 1. 1 The Buyer’s Guide to Enterprise Innovation Platforms
  2. 2. 2 Introduction The concept of enterprise innovation goes far beyond the once-used, now archaic term“idea management.” While“ideas”themselves still constitute the backbone of a successfully driven innovation platform, it is important to view them as only a single piece in a larger process – a process that should always result in the generation of actionable innovation and measurable business outcomes for your organization. Staying ahead of your competition requires a steady pipeline of innovation. These innovations may result in increased employee engagement or improved revenue margins or a range of other desirable outcomes. The goals themselves may be driven by the stakeholder within the organization, or possibly, on a macro level, by the marketplace or competitive landscape. But regardless of where or why the need originated, a consistent, well-managed innovation process can be the single, most critical differentiator for your organization’s long-term success. When considering an Enterprise Innovation Platform (EIP) for your organization, there are several key requirements to look for. And a platform’s inability to fulfill just one of them could negatively impact that overall goal of actionable innovations. THESE 5 KEY REQUIREMENTS ARE: 1. It must be engaging. Will your users actually use it? Are you getting the best ideas from your employee base? Can it engage your organization at scale, whether you are a 1,000-person organization or a 300,000-employee global organization? Can it extend securely, as needed, beyond employees to customers and partners? 2. It must help you surface the best innovations. From thousands of ideas, can your organization identify those with the most potential? Does your EIP always enable the true game-changing ideas to rise to the top? Can you clearly identify“Idea Signals”and separate them from“Idea Noise”? 3. It must allow you to make innovation repeatable. Innovation is a mission critical business process. Does your EIP make it easy for you to replicate this process at scale? Can you make innovation a repeatable, predictable, scalable and quantifiable business process in your organization? 4. It must be enterprise grade. Does your EIP integrate with other systems already established within your organization? Can it be used by a global, mobile organization? 5. It must offer access to best practices. Does your EIP provider enable access to a community of innovators across multiple industries? Requirement#1–Itmustbeengaging An EIP solution is only effective if your targeted users (i.e., your employees, or your customers) 1-925-297-2600 SpigitistheInnovationEngineThatDrivesBusinessGrowth
  3. 3. 3 are actually using it. And since, for the user, this typically means expending effort that is incremental to their existing responsibilities, the platform itself must offer a feature set that makes the experience compelling, rewarding, and fun. Your“crowd”(could be employees or customers, in open innovation use cases) represents a myriad of diverse interests, knowledge and experiences. When aggregated and utilized within the proper EIP, this breadth and variety of backgrounds and inherent diversity of opinions will result in the greatest potential innovation for your organization. But it is the EIP’s game mechanics that becomes the key to initially unlocking this abundance of potential. BREADTH AND VARIETY OF SUBMISSIONS An EIP will only prove compelling if the user receives“credit”for their input (ideas). As is human nature, people will take pride-of-ownership over their ideas, so it’s important to ask: Will specific users be identified as the originators of their ideas? Can others within the organization easily connect a specific idea to a specific user? The answer to both of these questions should always be“yes.” Also, the stakeholder within the organization (the person soliciting ideas) should be empowered to drive usage by instituting time limits on the submission of ideas. For example, if a stakeholder seeks ideas from employees on“Ways to Improve Customer Service,”he or she will find participation increased by instituting a contest or“challenge.”In this scenario, employees would have a set amount of time (set by the stakeholder) in which to submit their best ideas on improving customer service. Each challenge represents a unique community focused on a specific business need on a timeline. And because there is a finite amount of time that a challenge is open, employees are more compelled to prioritize their own ideation and to participate in voting and discerning the best ideas before the challenge ends. QUALITY OF SUBMISSIONS Participation could actually“cloud your radar”of innovation if users are merely compelled to participate in a shotgun approach of submitting a lot of poorly thought-out ideas in order to“see what sticks.” So, while breadth and diversity of participation are important, your EIP solution will be infinitely more powerful if users are rewarded for submitting quality ideas. It is the EIP’s task to“cut through the noise”and bring out this quality by intially: • Allowing for categorization of submitted ideas,
  4. 4. 4 • Automatically identifying similar ideas, • Offering intelligent recommendations to users who may hold an interest in certain categories of ideas. As overall quality increases,“leaderboards”are an excellent tool for rewarding users who submit the best ideas (as determined by the user community; See Requirement #2), enabling these users to receive a visible ranking and status that credits them for the quality of their participation. User“reputation”is a powerful mechanism that builds upon this concept, utilizing the EIP’s advanced algorithms to reward quality participation. This reputation will follow a specific user across communities and challenges, and can also be the basis for that user being designated as an“expert”within the community, empowering them to be more involved in an idea’s graduation along the innovation pipeline (See Requirement #3). The ability to weight votes based on user reputation is also a key component to ensure the crowd can accurately help surface ideas that are best suited to impact the business by becoming products or services. “Virtual Currency”is another, extremely effective way to reward high-quality submissions. This feature encourages effective participation with monetary-like credits, which can then be used to purchase items from the EIP“store”– a customizable virtual store from which the stakeholder can offer products that will best incent users. The store could have physical rewards, for example,“a company sweatshirt”or rewards that help get ideas on the way to execution such as“lunch with the CEO to pitch your idea”, or“Software development resources to prototype your app”. Selecting an EIP solution that offers the most engaging game mechanics and the most inherent intelligence will ensure a compelling, rewarding and fun experience for your users. This will help drive the foundation of your innovation pipeline, motivating participation and establishing an environment that values and fosters creative idea generation. Requirement#2–Itmusthelpyousurfacethebestinnovations Whether you’re instituting a new Innovation Management program or seeking to improve on an ineffective internal process, the EIP you choose should allow you to measure its effectiveness and usage. Once again, it all boils down to the breadth and diversity of the ideas being submitted and the quality of those same ideas. The value derived from your innovation pipeline will depend upon the level of automation inherent to your EIP solution – automation that should enable stakeholders to utilize crowdsourcing to initially evaluate ideas. While not every user or employee may have an idea to submit for a specific challenge, those same users can still prove to be invaluable to your innovation process by voting for or rating ideas submitted by others. In enterprise organizations, the number of ideas submitted for specific challenges can become unwieldy for the individual stakeholder, so crowdsourcing acts as a sort of filtering process, allowing the best ideas to rise to the top.
  5. 5. 5 Users who submit ideas will remain significantly more engaged if they receive ongoing feedback for their submissions. Utilizing an Up/Down Vote (“thumbs up/thumbs down”), combined with Star Ratings (that convey depth of sentiment for an idea), all users can take part in the process of innovation by providing the feedback necessary for your EIP’s algorithms to begin ranking all of the submitted ideas. PAIRWISE VOTING In order to ensure fairness in your overall innovation process, a powerful mechanism called “Pairwise Voting”allows your stakeholder to present ideas to prospective voters/raters in a head-to-head (“Which idea is better?”) format. The significance of this mechanism is its ability to give every idea equal consideration and to eliminate the risk of missing game-changing ideas that, for example, may have been presented late and didn’t have the opportunity to garner a high number of“thumbs up”votes. This additional intelligence should be configurable by the stakeholder and can be utilized at different phases of a challenge. It should also be configurable by role so that you can either use pairwise across the larger crowd, or enable it at later stages to force careful consideration of each idea by experts in the organization., Regardless, the result will always be a more thoughtful ranking of ideas. Your organization’s ability to innovate will only be as successful as your ability to initiate and sustain engagement at scale. It’s critical to establish and maintain a vibrant community of users, allowing them to follow each other and communicate openly. And with the proper feedback tools available at your community’s fingertips, your stakeholders will, in turn, be able to measure your platform’s effectiveness, and be empowered to focus on the best ideas as measured against your KPI’s and internal benchmarks. Requirement#3–Itmustallowyoutomake innovationrepeatable Beyond the generation of ideas, a major Prototype Concept Validation Incubation
  6. 6. 6 component to true enterprise innovation is progress – shepherding your users’best ideas along the path from concept to actionable innovation and onward to implementation. Such progress should be repeatable at scale and should incorporate visual tools to represent what stage (i.e.,“Brainstorming”,“Qualifying Round”,“Expert Review”,“Implementation”, etc.) an idea currently resides in. Specific stages should be customizable and will depend upon your organization’s internal processes, but an effective EIP solution will present an idea’s progress in a simple, visual way that’s always understandable for any stakeholder within the organization. The lifecycle of any idea will typically include several stages, and each stage will have its own set of criteria that the idea must meet in order to advance (“graduate”) to the next stage. Some ideas will continue along the path to maturation while others may simply fail to satisfy a certain stage’s requirements. Definition of these requirements or criteria should always be configurable by the stakeholder. Perhaps certain stages in your innovation process will permit an idea to graduate solely based on the community’s sentiment (Such as number of views of an idea, discussions on the idea, up/down votes on an idea, or an algorithmically computed score that captures the pulse rate or vitality of an idea based on all of these factors). Perhaps other stages will require multiple experts to complete objective evaluations based on pre-defined templates and a structured workflow But regardless of how you configure graduation from one stage to the next, it should always permit you to integrate with your organization’s own internal workflow. This notion of automated idea graduation is critical to scale the innovation process, since it allows organizations to effectively leverage the crowd to do some of the “heavy lifting”of discerning ideas at scale in the early stages and more effectively leverage the scare time and resources of experts in later stages. With any enterprise innovation process, there is a persistent risk of your organization’s best ideas dissipating into the ether. Employees are busy; executives become distracted. But the future of your business depends upon leading these prospective innovations toward potential implementation, and doing it in a way that is repeatable at scale. The right EIP solution will mitigate this risk by increasing your stakeholders’ability to consistently move the best ideas along, from one stage of the innovation pipeline to the next. and be able to visualize the innovation pipeline.
  7. 7. 7 A back-end dashboard ties all of this together for the stakeholder, providing snapshot analytics and all available data related to their challenge(s) – community health, site statistics, reputation and ranking reports. An enterprise grade Innovation management solution should have out-of-the box reporting and analytics, and the ability to create custom or ad-hoc reports very easily, with for example built-in reporting tools like Jaspersoft. In short, stakeholders should never be more than a click away from the latest developments in their innovation pipeline. Requirement#4–Itmustbeenterprisegrade The way your organization functions are unique from all other organizations.Your KPI’s are specific to your business objectives, and your internal work streams have been instituted in order to maximize effectiveness. As such, any software platform integrated into your organization must conform to your established systems of review, communication, etc. Your EIP is no exception. Customization and flexibility is key when integrating into your internal processes. For example, an idea that is led from one stage of maturation to the next without consideration of the appropriate internal reviews and sign-offs will inevitably result in an idea that never realizes its potential for organizational benefit. The various reviews and criteria you use to subjectively and objectively score or evaluate ideas could be unique to your product lifecycle methodology, and as such your EIP should offer the ability to create specific templates for these to match your process and objectives. Stakeholders must be able to shape their specific innovation pipeline process to match their own organizational requirements and work streams. In this sense, the proper approvals (or denials) can be incorporated into the EIP’s feature set to ensure a smooth transition from one stage of innovation to another. Ensure that your EIP has mechanisms to remind busy individuals and if need be escalate up the management chain when decisions or reviews get overdue. With regards to your organization’s preferred modes of communication and collaboration, your EIP solution should be just as flexible. Whether your organization chooses to utilize SharePoint,Yammer, Jive, or Chatter, stakeholders should be able to seamlessly integrate innovation into the organizational conversation. Culturally you may have pockets of innovators gathering in other collaboration platforms in use in your organization. Bringing those crowds into a structured platform where innovation can be fostered, measured and tracked is a key reason that your EIP should demonstrate proven integrations and ecosystem partnerships with collaboration vendors such as Jive Software, Microsoft SharePoint and
  8. 8. 8 Yammer. Gone are the days when your potential EIP users might be tethered to a computer. Ideas can be generated anywhere, at any time, and it’s important to offer your users a solution that is as mobile as they are.Your EIP platform should extend to the most popular mobile platforms including iOS (iPhones) and Android based smart phones, offering users an experience perfectly in line with what they’ve become accustomed to in their own personal lives in the consumer realm. Key innovation software feature sets such as posting ideas, voting, commenting, and viewing challenges should all be available on users’mobile devices, allowing them to stay engaged, regardless of location. Lastly, it’s important to consider your EIP platform’s ability to support multiple languages. If your organization has (or may someday have) customers, partners, or employees in other countries, it could prove costly to integrate an EIP solution that doesn’t support a variety of languages to support global business such as Chinese (Traditional or Simplified), Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Russian etc. A truly enterprise-grade EIP solution must work in conjunction with your established organizational work streams. Whether you measure effectiveness against ROI or KPI’s or some other preferred metric, the reality of turning ideas into executable innovations requires this type of platform flexibility and cooperation. Your EIP must be flexible enough to communicate as your organization communicates. Integration with specific social platforms, mobile platforms, and global languages is critical for today’s enterprise organization. Requirement#5–Itmustofferaccesstobestpractices An enterprise-grade EIP would not be complete without offering the opportunity to access the experience of other industry innovators. The ability to benefit from the best practices of other customers who have successfully implemented your particular EIP significantly reduces potential hurdles in launching your own innovation program. Ensure that your EIP vendor offers multiple venues for sharing best practices, whether it’s in the form of annual innovation forums where thought leaders are invited or regional forums where you can meet on a more frequent basis in more easily accessible geographical proximity. Virtual online communities should almost always be offered by your EIP vendor to ensure instant access to knowledgebases, community management experts and other customers. In conjunction with access to other customers, you should be able to take advantage of aggregated data
  9. 9. 9 AboutSpigit Spigit’s Enterprise Innovation Platform is used by the world’s leading brands to invent new products and services, reduce costs and increase employee and customer engagement. Leveraging crowdsourcing, purpose driven social collaboration, game mechanics and big data analytics, Spigit helps companies identify and execute transformative ideas from their employees and customers at scale to drive business outcomes. Over 3000 companies, including leading brands across Retail, Healthcare, Financial, Technology, Government, Insurance, Utilities and Pharmaceutical industries use Spigit to make innovation a mission critical, repeatable, predictable and quantifiable business process. 1-925-297-2600 across industries. This offers insights into your own program’s effectiveness by providing comparative benchmarks (i.e., How does my innovation program compare in engagement to the telecommunications sector?). And your EIP solution should incorporate all of this data and intelligence into its software, resulting in the best-of-breed platform for crowd dynamics, behavioral analytics, game mechanics, big data analytics, and workflow. Another key question to ask when considering best practices for your program is whether your EIP offers expert consulting services. These should range from assistance in community management as you launch your first challenge to expertise on gamificiation to architecting an entire innovation program for your organization.Your EIP should never cause you to feel alone as your establish your innovation program. Conclusion Your organization’s future demands an Enterprise Innovation Platform that can help you get the best ideas at scale, surface the innovations that have the highest potential for meaningful business outcomes, and inherent structure to enable you to make innovation a repeatable business process in your company. It must be flexible enough to integrate into your organization’s unique work streams, and it should be available to your users at all times, regardless of location, platform, or language. An effective innovation platform requires consistent usage, something that can only be assured through a user experience that is as rewarding and fun as it is useful. Game mechanics, automation, behavioral analytics, workflow, and big data analytics are only a few components to such an experience. But when combined with a powerful, enterprise-grade feature set and available services and ecosystem that assist your stakeholders in maximizing your organization’s potential, ideas can lead to true innovation.
  10. 10. 10 1-925-297-2600