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Every year, IdeaScale undertakes a comprehensive audit of our system data, our customer conversations and survey data in order to develop report on the state of crowdsourced innovation.

This data gathering and analysis takes up the better part of our first quarter and it offers our customers (and beyond) a set of best practices and benchmarks to guide their efforts over the coming year. We find that it is our most downloaded resource and something that our customers use all year long, however…

2020 served up a unique set of signals and challenges that are shaping innovation programs around the globe. This year, we reached out to our innovation leaders in a second round of discovery and asked them how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting innovation strategy and we found four key trends.

Fewer resources for innovation. We saw this in our reports and we saw this in reports from others in our space. The budgets and attention for dedicated innovation programs started freezing or dropping. There was less time to dedicate to managing long-term bets and far more interest in digital transformation and crisis management. Some of these companies appealed to their innovation teams to assist in these rapid transformations, but others had to find other ways to respond to the shift in priorities. More on that in a moment.

A shift to near-term thinking. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation leaders had stated that almost a third of all innovation efforts were focused on the disruptive, complex, transformational change that would take a long time to implement or deliver ROI – these were business-building bets. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the focus shifted dramatically with only 8% of respondents seeking farther-horizon solutions.

The crowd’s wish to collaborate in response scenarios. In almost equal measure, innovators found that engaging the crowd was either the same as before the pandemic, more difficult, or easier. This might be because some people are so distracted, but others want to be a part of the solutions that arise during this time. In fact, IdeaScale found that more than 25% of its customers were using innovation management software to engage the crowd in solution-seeking that addresses teleworking challenges, communications issues, revenue disruption, and more.

Those who do not think about innovation now will fall behind. Yes, we have to pay attention to what’s happening now, but in a market that is uncertain, it is more important than ever to lean into innovation capabilities or our organizations will not rise with the rest of the market as it begins to recover, but will instead be left behind. Our recommendation is that leaders across industries should take this time to regroup, find some new opportunities for future planning and offering innovation services to those who are trying to respond to near-term threats while also reminding others of how this can capability-build for the future.

These trends also led to four recommendations for innovation planning in 2020 (and beyond) To access all the findings and recommendations from IdeaScale’s 2020 research, download the full report here.

About the Author

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.

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