Source: The Forrester Wave™: Innovation Management Solutions, Q2 2016

Innovation that only creates change is just that — change. When we asked firms about their major business objectives, 37% claim that product and service innovation is central to their business transformation.

But old-style innovation will be very tough to maintain. To exploit business value from digital technologies, innovation managers need to increasingly think in open ecosystems, open standards, open platforms, and open source software. Digital innovation equals service innovation, which in turn requires a willingness to experiment and engage in minimal-viable-product thinking, because:

  • As customers’ demand changes more quickly, innovation cycles must get shorter. Fast software innovation will “eat” slow hardware innovation given the ever greater role that software plays for today’s business value creation. An innovation management solution supports decision sessions and real-time voting and collaboration to quickly validate or gauge the interest of organizational priorities in short sessions. Organizations need to be willing to fail fast, be able to work iteratively on product and service improvements, run idea experiments based on soft-launches, and get feedback on innovation efforts via external feedback loops quickly.
  • Ecosystems play a central role for innovation initiatives. Most innovation crowdsourcing campaigns are still run internally without the involvement of partners or customers. Open innovation is spreading to ecosystems. For instance, we find open innovation in the auto industry between companies like Toyota and Tesla regarding battery fuel cells. However, innovation ecosystems never work based on asynchronous business models, where one company extracts more value from its partners or a customer than it is prepared to give back.

There is a wide spectrum of innovation initiatives, including market validation, co-creation, innovation exploration, incremental innovation, technology-push disruptive innovation, market-pull disruptive innovation, and new business modelling. Innovation management solutions aim to support these different aspects of innovation. But CIOs and other decision makers must remember that:

  • Innovation management solutions are part of a continuum of collaboration tools. Many businesses turn to innovation management solutions because innovation initiatives based on communication and collaboration tools like Google for Work, Jive, Slack, or Quip have clear limits for driving innovation. For instance, Jive supports ongoing innovation conversation, but it does not offer the features to support idea management, let alone innovation consulting.
  • Innovation management solutions themselves do not change your innovation culture. A management innovation tool alone will never transform the innovation capabilities of your business. You need an innovation management solution, because without operational changes and an open working culture, no agile innovation is possible in the age of the customer. Innovation culture must cross organizational structures and promote multi-disciplinary collaboration.

In a new report, we researched, analyzed, and scored 15 innovation management solution providers against a set of 26 criteria. This report will help CIOs and other decision-makers identify the most appropriate innovation management solution for their organization by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of innovation management solutions.