Margarine was the answer to an open call for a butter alternative when Louis Napoleon III faced a butter shortage and looked to his citizens for a solution. And, of course, democracy is a long-held tradition of asking the public to weigh in on important decisions and representatives. These are just a few examples.
But crowdsourcing innovation has matured dramatically in the past twenty years with the advent of new technology that connects us and new expectations from the public and the workforce about how they’d like to collaborate, which has given rise to idea management software. In fact, one report compared strong innovators to weak innovators and noted that 79 percent of strong innovators had digitized innovation processes, while only 29 percent of weak innovators had done so.
So with so many strong innovation programs developing their new ideas in these digital environments, a new set of innovation data is emerging. A look at some of that data leads to some new workplace trends that we’re seeing in innovation departments worldwide.
Innovation departments are becoming an embedded business practice. 38% of IdeaScale customers have a dedicated innovation function. That number has continued to grow year after year (up from 32% the last time we published this report in 2017).
The primary focus of innovation is product and process. There are numerous problems to solve and end points for new ideas, but when it comes to problems solved, we’re seeing the majority of efforts centered around either product and process improvement or net new products and processes.
The best innovation programs are good at testing ideas (not necessarily launching every promising ideas). For the majority of IdeaScale customers (nearly 80%), less than 25% of ideas reach the implementation stage. Admittedly, this rate is higher in the most successful programs, but 25% is a good starting point as an implementation benchmark. Many more ideas than that, however, are tested and it’s selecting, rapidly iterating and moving forward with or iterating on ideas that truly sets the best innovators apart so that they can launch the ones that will add the most value.
By Rob Hoehn
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.