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In our previous article we focused on some of the serious issues being faced by clients and vendors who are working with innovation / ideation platforms.

But in this article, we want to focus on some of the successes being achieved with these platforms, which remain an important cornerstone for most corporate innovation programs. This is a list built on personal perspective and we welcome your comments or opportunity for a chat.

Continued value shift from front to back-end

These platforms used to sell themselves on messages of creating more ideas, but to add real value to innovation leaders, platforms are providing more focus around the difficult challenge of executing ideas. These platforms are in a great position to support this approach. At their core, they are built around transparency, engagement and consistent processes. Too often organizations have idea pipelines that are inconsistent, inefficient and poorly managed.

By utilizing crowdsourcing platforms to track and manage the development of ideas within a pipeline, organizations are finding new ways to engage with, and drive value.

Platforms being viewed as part of a broader innovation strategy

In the early days of the industry, innovation platforms were often positioned as the key element of any program. At this point, the platforms are not as sexy, but remain an important contributor to a broader ecosystem of innovative activities that make up an effective program. With this shift, platforms (and their campaigns / challenges) are now seen as opportunities to support other innovation efforts, and vice-versa. Working together, the broader ecosystem can leverage impact and value.

Further, the concept of crowdsourcing is being integrated into many aspects of innovation, and quite frankly other business operations. Many innovation leaders are extending their platforms to support key business decisions in an open, transparent way. To do this successfully requires clarity on the strategic focus of your organisation and how this links to the innovation program.

Shifting the focus to broader employee engagement…

In the early days, innovation platforms introduced radical concepts of inclusion, transparency and autonomy to corporate organizations. These key concepts are now seen as drivers of business success, beyond innovation efforts. Savvy innovation leaders are leveraging these concepts as part of a comprehensive employee engagement strategy. Their platforms often play a key part of this strategy, as they promote those key concepts to employees with scale, engagement and (structured correctly) impact.

…Which leads to culture change

An often-neglected aspect of these platforms is their ability to drive cultural change, by educating employees on key business issues, increasing engagement with a transparency / experimentation / autonomy, and also supporting employee recognition / reward. These are key factors in any cultural change effort that innovation leaders should be driving over time.

New focus on services

Innovation platforms are often run by technology companies who limit the amount of services provided, as it drags down their P/E ratios and limits scaling abilities. However corporate innovation leaders are insisting on broader packages of service support, to drive value from their platform investments. Innovation leaders are often charged with huge targets (e.g. generate $100m in contribution…) with extremely limited resources (e.g. with 3 to 5 people), and so they have no choice but to outsource major parts of ongoing platform support. Besides freeing up their team to focus on other value added activities, additional benefits include ensuring consistent execution quality (theoretically) and the ability to expand / contract support on an ‘as needed’ basis.

Further, service requirements are moving upstream, with more senior support, as the value and ongoing investment dollars in these programs builds over time. This adds value by positioning the platforms to leverage resources and align with strategic needs more actively.

These are just some of the positive trends that we are seeing around the innovation platform marketplace. Let us know your thoughts in the comments and always happy to discuss on a call as needed?

By Anthony Ferrier and James Mabbott

About the authors

Anthony Ferrier is a well-regarded executive, entrepreneur, advisor and thought leader on corporate innovation. He has worked with organisations in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia to develop effective innovation strategies that guide organizational change and build cultures that encourage the development of new products and solutions. Anthony has worked with organizations such as Transport for NSW (Australia), Department of Defence (Australia), Bristol-Myers Squibb (US), Fidelity Investments (US), Pfizer (US), Volkswagen (Sweden), Ergo Insurance (Germany), etc.. He currently leads innovation and commercialisation efforts at Swinburne University, and previously led The BNY Mellon global innovation program, as well as co-founding two successful tech-driven consultancies. He has a Master of Commerce (University of Sydney) and Bachelor of Economics (University of Newcastle).

James Mabbott heads KPMG Innovate, the innovation services arm of KPMG Australia. A management consultant and technologist, James has spent over 15 years working with some of Australia’s largest companies on complex problem solving, industry and client analysis, relationship management and development, sales strategy and execution. As head of KPMG Innovate, James is responsible for delivering innovation projects to government and corporate clients, leading the firm’s startup eco-system initiatives and alliances, and bringing new KPMG products and services to market. James is also an active member of the community, heavily involved with Jawun (Indigenous Corporate Partnerships) and on the regional advisory council of the Sydney Business Chamber.

Featured image via Yayimages.