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Software // Information Management

Unite the Processes of Innovation

Generate better ideas and get faster results by bringing together the four phases of maturation: envisioning, filtering, developing, and realizing new products and services.

When it comes to supporting innovation with technology, there is, unfortunately, no innovation-management "ERP" system--a single suite of integrated applications that automates all these processes out of the box. Instead, innovation management is pretty much where enterprise resource planning was a couple of decades ago--dependent on a series of "best-of-breed" applications that are only loosely integrated (see "Innovation Management Process Phases," below right).

State Your Intent

The intention phase of innovation management is concerned with the "why" of innovation: What is your purpose and what do you aim to achieve? An intention might be to release a new or improved product, to enter a new or different market segment, to develop a new or improved service offering, to catch up with--or outrun--a competitor, or to reengineer a key business process. It may or may not be strategic in nature.

The intention phase requires project planning, and calls for technology that can provide big-picture oversight of a collaborative effort that may involve both internal and external stakeholders and many network dependencies operating over a long period of time. The technology of choice to manage this kind of challenge is road-mapping software.

A software-based road map presents a visualization of the collaborative innovation effort, sometimes called an "adhocracy" or network of purpose, that is brought together to execute the intent. In these days of "open innovation," where partnerships may be forged with external partners to create the innovation networks needed to support a specific initiative, the road-mapping effort is often both multidimensional, involving internal and external entities, and multilayered to reflect the need for the road map to embrace a range of factors, including:

• The market--what customers say they want and customer feedback

• The supply chain--the ability to deliver products or services to the market

• Technology--what you need to build your products or services

• People--the supporting human resources, skills and competencies required

• The financials--the funding sources required to fuel your initiative

Much of the value of a road map depends on access to more detailed documents, in the form of budget spreadsheets, project plans and other related documents--including linked subsidiary road maps. Road-mapping software accommodates this by providing drill-down capability from the main, top-level road map to this library of supporting documents. In a large, multinational organization, road mapping the intent phase is one way to help prevent duplicate initiatives, avoid over- or underfunding of innovation, ensure that internal and external network resources are used and minimize the chance that unforeseen dependencies between two parties will block the entire initiative.

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