Ventana Research believes that idea management is a key activity in the innovation-conversion phase of innovation performance management (IPM). However, we believe that the penetration of idea management technology is being held back because it is not well integrated with or embedded in other mainstream business management applications. This, in turn, is limiting the potential of a powerful innovation management tool. Organizations looking to improve their potential in innovation performance management should consider idea management as a critical component of their applications.
Ideas are the raw material of innovation and can surface in many ways, and not just as the result of specific creative activities or challenges intended to generate ideas. In fact, many ideas surface in a more random and ad hoc way as a natural consequence of daily business activities. And as these ideas surface, they often do so within the context of a specific business process and use of a specific business management application.
An obvious example is that of call center and call handling systems. There is a strong likelihood that the volume of customer conversations handled by the average call center is bound to include the surfacing of a number of ideas that may be worthy of further development within a formal idea management process/system. However, integration with idea management systems is not a feature commonly found, if at all, in call handling systems. As a consequence many of these ideas will get lost in the shuffle.
Naturally, the reason this functionality is not common, whether in call handling or any other business management system that provides a context in which ideas can surface, is because the penetration of idea management is limited and therefore customers don’t ask for it. But this is a classic chicken-and-egg situation. Idea management needs this kind of integration to become more pervasive, but it won’t get it until idea management processes and systems are more pervasive.
Embedding idea capture capabilities into more line-of-business systems is a capability that idea management vendors must begin to work on in order to increase the footprint of their systems in larger organizations. Without this, idea management will continue to operate as a niche system used only by specific ideation teams rather than an enterprise-wide capability that can potentially be “touched” by anyone in the organization whatever their organizational role and the business management system they live in day-to-day. Ventana Research recommends that companies serious about idea management not only implement a dedicated idea management system but also make sure that ideas can be captured within other line–of-business applications and easily communicated to the idea management system for further evaluation and development.
Stewart McKie is European Analyst Director at Ventana Research.
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