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What is an Innovation Management Platform? Why is this so important to a software company?

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Luke Hamm, CEO
Innovation management platforms (IMPs) are a class of software that allows organisations to track, plan, and monitor the implementation of their innovation projects. IMPs can help organisations to better understand the innovations being developed, assess the feasibility of implementing them, and prioritise and manage their implementation.

The main benefits of using an IMP is that it can lead to faster innovation times, increased ability to execute on opportunities, and a decreased risk.

How have Innovation Management Platforms developed?
Innovation management itself is the process of bringing together disparate ideas and technologies to create new products and services. It is widely regarded as a key driver of business growth and profitability.

IMPs as we know them are likely a product of the early 2000s when the first enterprise software solutions appeared on the market. Some of the first known companies using IMPs are the likes of Microsoft and IBM.

Today, IMPs are used by organisations of all sizes, from small businesses to world-leading companies, and they have become an essential tool for organisations fostering a culture of innovation and utilising it to stay ahead.

What are the differences between Innovation Management Platforms?
There are many different IMPs available on the market, offering different functionality, customisability, and with different focuses. Therefore, care should be taken when selecting a platform to assess suitability, scale, and scope.

Mostly they all aim to cover the same general steps to the innovation process:

Ideation – sourcing, and pooling of ideas
Validation and project selection– what are the best ideas, which ones deserve to be pursued further, is there commercial benefit, etc.
Project and product development – tracking the stages of development, resourcing, and what is planned.
Output and commercialisation – what is the result, is there a return on investment, has something useful come out of this whole process.
It is also worth noting that other platforms exist providing services that would fulfill partial use cases of innovation management. However, they do not tend to market themselves as IMPs, but as other business SaaS platforms.

What options are there for Innovation Management Platforms?
There is a lot of noise in this marketplace, including offerings that may claim to be IMPs but could be more accurately claimed to be collaboration tools. Globally we have identified more than 50 specialist platforms catering for companies with 2 to 5,000+ employees. The platforms obviously look different and function differently, but the majority of them have a similar feel. However, the platforms often have quite different focuses, some more focused on ideation, and some more on project management, for example.

Things to bear in mind when selecting an IMP
The majority of platforms that are in the market are focused more on employee engagement and about fostering a culture of innovation rather than an operational tool for project management and delivery. They are often focused on the first stage of innovation – ideation. As a result, these types of IMPs may have to sit alongside other project management tools to facilitate the implementation of innovation.

There is often a large amount of customisability, so it’s important to be clear about your requirements. This will allow you to get the most out of the platform and establish development areas early on.

The platforms should be easy to use and not place an overly excessive administrative burden on the company. The last thing anyone wants is for the innovation process to become bureaucratic and lead to the stagnation of good ideas.

Have a question? Need guidance on an IMP matter? Contact Eric Larson at:
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