Executive Perspectives on Innovation Software

May 2, 2016

Selected comments from the executives who participated in our Q1 survey on innovation software:


  • “The opportunities for savings that emerge from our global workforce, and the new-business opportunities they’ve recommended, far outweigh the cost of the tool we implemented.”
  • “I know we could get more from the tool, but even the minimum we are currently getting from it is better than we were before without it.”
  • “Excel has the functionality we need today to manage our innovation portfolio within our small team. Ultimately there is a layer of human touch that we apply to any ranked attributes from the tool.”
  • “Although we crowdsource ideas, the evaluation and tracking is done manually via the usual business tools (Excel and Powerpoint) and conforming to our new product development process and pre-development opportunity analysis.”
  • “Handwriting + whiteboard excel all other tools…”
  • “We are using one in-house built tool for the entire cycle (Ideation, evaluation, approval, implementation, awarding & reporting).”

Negatives & Issues to Be Aware of

  • “Most folks use them because they are required, not necessarily because they help them with their work.”
  • “We purchased a software package, but it was wonky and difficult to use. We also struggled to translate the metrics into something usable by the organization. It eventually fell by the wayside in favor of simpler tools we had developed ourselves.”
  • “We purchased Project Portfolio Management software, but configuration and implementation has been a challenge. It was much more complex that we understood it to be in the evaluation process.”
  • “It’s so painful to deal with external software implementation/integration, that it’s just an easier path to purpose something like SharePoint or Excel.”
  • “Mostly using ad-hoc versions of generic software, [which offers] little to no insight and ability to see across the multiple front-ends within the enterprise.”
  • “This area has evolved very slowly. Some of the players have not significantly improved their platform. Very fragmented right now in terms of how solutions work.”
  • “Crowdsourcing seems to be overhyped. We have tried multiple instances and flavors, internal and external, and results are pretty modest.”
  • “There’s a lot out there and it can be hard to see through the pitch.”
  • “As more suppliers move their tools to the cloud, it is becoming difficult (due to our company security requirements)… Since our program is still in a low level of maturity we use office productivity products for a large portion of the process.”
  • “Most of the tools are only as good as the amount of time someone spends maintaining and organizing. This means someone isn’t innovating, they are serving as team IT Lead. That’s broken.”
  • “It is hard to keep momentum up with internal crowdsourcing tools.”
  • “We are not using the software often. It’s a nice concept, but it’s a lot of work for the organization to think through a challenge and follow through on the execution.”
  • “I wish we had more support, like training and best practices on how other clients use their tools.”
  • “Self-developing [our own tool] has been a lot of work. Not sure the ROI is sound. The additional functionality over the off-the-shelf solutions is great, but the work effort to design, develop, and manage the platform has been extensive.”
  • “It has been hard to prove ROI on the software, since some ideas can take awhile to come to fruition. There are soft metrics that prove the success of the tools, but some in the organization still want to only see hard ROI measures.”
  • “Some vendors seem to be updating their tools (and moving to the cloud) where those that provide on-premise capabilities seem to be a bit slower in updating (e.g., their user interfaces don’t get update as quick or take into account mobile access). We also have been looking for an enterprise tool that can be used for R&D innovation (or new product innovation), as well as internal IT innovation. The idea capture processes are similar, but the evaluations are very different. This may lead us down a path of multiple tools, where we would prefer a single enterprise solution.”
  • “Some of our innovation teams are looking for a better user experience in the idea collection tools. That has driven some of our innovation programs to internal SharePoint, where we have greater control over the user experience. For portfolio management (we mostly use Excel), we have yet to find a simple tool which is not too expensive and overly complicated… I also need to note that because of security and other reasons, we must have an on-premise tool for most of the innovation management process (external crowdsourcing being the only exception, with numerous rules around how we can use the tool). This currently eliminates the use of innovation tools that have moved to the cloud (a trend we are noticing among a lot of innovation tool vendors).”

Tips, Advice, and Specific Tools

  • “User experience is the ONLY thing that matters. If you innovators won’t use the tools everything else is irrelevant.”
  • “It’s ideal to run everything for innovation management across the enterprise through a single tool, or a set of tools which are extremely well-integrated. We couldn’t find a set of reasonably priced tools to do this across ideas, portfolio management, patents, university research, etc…so we built our own.”
  • “Marketing and communication of the platform [you choose] is just as important as execution.”
  • “Innovation software is a tool to help execute an innovation strategy. But without an innovation strategy (that defines the goals of the program and how it integrates with the business strategy), it seems unlikely to realize its potential.”
  • “Would love to see the ‘major’ vendors (IBM, MSFT) incorporate innovation tools into their standard suites.”
  • Different innovation teams within our large organization use different platforms; we have one team using a home-grown tool on Sharepoint for idea collection only, and another team using Imaginatik’s Idea Central and Results Engine modules (for idea collection, execution and portfolio management.)
  • “We use Slack for information-sharing and collaboration.”
  • “We use JIRA for project and pipeline management.”
  • “We use Jira for collection and execution, and Slack for collaboration.”
  • “Spigit, when tailored, is great for our organization to crowdsource with 180,000 employees.”
  • “We are using Qmarkets for ideation.”
  • “We use tools like Tableau, @Risk, Minitab for data analytics.”
  • “We have cobbled together a number of available tools to meet our needs. The only purpose-built tool for innovation that we use is BrightIdea.”
  • “We have been training people at EurekaRanch on the Innovation Engineering process. We have four blue belts, and one person will begin their black belt training in February.”
  • “We are currently trying to consolidate onto fewer tools across the enterprise.”
  • “It’s horses for courses. Be flexible, as no one solution is perfect for every environment.”
  • “Don’t forget video conferences, WhatsApp, Slack, and other tools that actually facilitate conversations where ‘innovation’ happens.”
  • “We are using programs like Trello and Wrike to manage idea execution as well.”
  • “We use a hosted solution (IdeaScale) for idea collection and execution. It allows us to track ideas through a custom stage-gate process.”
  • “We use Confluence and Jira extensively to manage new project ideas.”
  • “ [from Salesforce] is becoming a key tool for us… customized to manage our portfolio.”
  • “Different Innovation teams within our large organization use different platforms; we have one team using a home-grown tool on Sharepoint for idea collection only, and another team using Imaginatik’s Idea Central and Results Engine modules (for idea collection, execution and portfolio management.)”
  • “The tools must be integrated into the workflow. No one wants to use a disconnected tool.”
  • “I think it’s a mistake to use the term innovation software. Better to think about tools for … project management, portfolio management, team collaboration, brainstorming, or organizing ideas. How do I provide innovators with a Swiss army knife, which provides the right tool at the right time for the job at hand – while being convenient an seamlessly integrated?”
  • “We learned that innovation is not so much about finding great ideas, as it is about moving them ahead. This requires both business and technical support, which can conflict with day-to-day priorities, unless there is a clear strategy that recognizes and prioritizes the role of innovation.”