From Crowdsourcing to Execution: How to Use Innovation Software Effectively

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August 18, 2014

Innovation has lately become a more democratic process for many businesses; ideas can now come from anywhere and anyone in the organization, and still be recognized as valuable, regardless of an employee’s role in the company. Most startups and entrepreneurs understand this, and remain open to ideas and suggestions on how to improve innovation processes. However, many of them find the task of graduating these ideas towards execution — and making innovation repeatable — to be overwhelmingly challenging.

The solution, however, is a simple one: the key to helping small and medium businesses find their place in the world of innovation and compete with big, established players is a robust and flexible innovation platform.

The Right Kind of Leverage

An innovation platform brings various internal and external stakeholders together, and allows them to share experiences and discuss ideas revolving around a central topic or theme. However, it is important to ensure that the platform is used properly, so that it doesn’t stifle the innovation process or discourage participation.

Below are a few ways to use an innovation platform effectively within your organization:

  • Develop a genuine community within the platform, and encourage users to participate voluntarily. This is much more likely to result in participation than forcing the platform on your workforce as a reporting mechanism.
  • Explain the full range of features and functionality within the platform, and train members where appropriate for transparency.
  • Find a platform with robust capabilities, such as built-in game mechanics, advanced engagement, workflow management, and virtual market functionality to cater to an effective and organized crowdsourcing environment .
  • Learn the different ways you can use the platform so you can have the features sync with your innovation needs, instead of just using the software by the book, which might not be beneficial for your organization.
  • Gather the opinions of each stakeholder, and learn their needs and requirements for the innovation platform. Incorporate as many of these as possible. This will help increase ownership of the platform and encourage participation. The ideal way to launch an innovation platform is to precede it with open, creative sessions on the components of the platform — especially regarding what needs to be incorporated. For instance, questions such as whether all participants need to see all ideas submitted, or whether voting is required on a submitted idea.

A Better Process

Having a robust and flexible platform is one thing, but implementing it effectively is another. Innovation platforms need to be strategically integrated into the the workplace in order to be accepted and regularly used by your team. For instance, one use of the innovation platform is to crowdsource ideas. An effective strategy for facilitating this is by organizing competitions, and the innovation platform then becomes the vehicle to implement the tactics of this strategy. A recent success story is the British government, which endorsed the British Innovation Gateway program (BIG) that was launched to support, recognize, and reward excellence in small business innovation.

This program succeeded in unearthing some of the UK’s most innovative startups and small/ medium enterprises. Using the SpigitEngine innovation platform, CISCO, who ran the program, whittled down 300+ entries to 20 semi-finalists to six finalists, who finally competed in an exciting “Dragons’ Den”-style live pitch.

A good innovation platform adds value. It helps contributors gather new ideas and inspiration from their team to provide organizational benefits. Regardless of how you use the platform, the end goal should always be to drive innovation and creativity within your business, and never at the expense of a collaborative, open company culture.