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The Definitive Guide to Innovation Management

The Changing world of Innovation and Technology

While creativity can be spontaneous, the process behind it is often complicated. There are many stages that individuals must complete for a concept to move beyond simply being an excellent idea. With so many steps to cover, more and more companies are focusing on improving their innovation management.

Our modern world does not allow for organisations which routinely do the same thing month after month, year after year. Our world is changing too quickly around us. Industries which prospered a mere decade ago are now collapsing into dust.

Every company and individual seem to be racing to find the newest innovative item or idea that will beat the competition and meet their clients’ wants and needs. In such a fast-paced world where technology is advancing quickly and leaving many older business models behind, businesses are seeking new ways to stream-line their innovative methods.

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What is Innovation Management?

Most of us have a basic understanding of innovation. It can come in a variety of forms: 

A focus group innovates on a new fruity flavour of soft drink to catch modern tastes.

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A team of engineers prototypes a contoured driver’s seat which is comfortable on long trips.

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Managers develop the perfect options to entice new corporate clients.

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Employees feed up ideas to improve and enhance tasks they perform on a daily basis.

There are a wide variety of ways in which products, processes, and technologies can be innovated. Central to all of them, however, is the environment. If the underlying environment does not support innovation, then the golden ring which could save the company might be ignored and discarded.

Innovation management occurs when a company organises and takes control of their creative process. A development team is tasked with setting rules and clear steps that will help those in the creative process move swiftly and confidently until an idea reaches fruition. Innovation management usually has clearly defined ways to improve ideas from individuals and move the creativity process forward until the concept is successfully implemented. Everything in between, including creative decisions, planning and implementing the decisions, and even creating innovation strategies are encompassed within the management of creativity



The Importance of Innovation Management

Innovation can be a risky venture. Technology is progressing so quickly that it is no longer realistic to expect only a few individuals to come up with new ideas frequently and organically. Large organisations need more open communication and collaboration between all their different departments and levels. Innovation really only works when there is a high level of collaboration, especially in large corporations.

Innovation management isn’t intended to eliminate the perils of innovation, but instead to reduce the risk and improve the company’s ability to put time and money toward those concepts that have the best chance of succeeding. As companies create a structured development system by using innovation management, they are able to create clear decision points and agreed upon rules that will help establish which ideas will be moved forward. This way clients’ needs and desires are met more quickly and with less overlap of ideas.

The importance of innovation management cannot be ignored. Even if your team or company is made up of intelligent, creative individuals, unanticipated roadblocks can easily occur. Effective management of the innovation process can lead to a reduced risk of failure and decreased development costs, and it can shorten the time that it takes for the ideas to move from simple concepts to implementation. It can also increase Return on Investment (ROI) and customer satisfaction.

Innovation management can be used to create and manage new products or methods that can save a company time and money. Regardless of whether you are part of a cooperation, running a small independent business, or self-employed a well managed innovation management system can help you be a more effective and productive worker.


10 Benefits of Innovation Management

It stands to reason that innovation management crafts more successful products. Whether a company sells coffee or cars, investment portfolios or software packages, innovation management ensures that the customer gets the best possible solution to their needs.

Innovation management—when properly implemented—can have an array of benefits. Companies often seize upon an idea and pour too much money into it prematurely, only to realise later that the idea shouldn’t have been supported. Having a clear set of guidelines and hurdles that ideas have to pass through can prevent companies from falling into this monetary trap. Some benefits that innovations management can bring to a company include:


Faster introduction of new products.


Higher launch success rates.


Earlier detection of unviable ideas.


Improved deadline observation by creative teams.


Greater monetary efficiency within the creative team.


Better correlation between all departments for quicker results.


Increased customer satisfaction.


Better plans for implementation.


Reduced cycle time.


Less rework or recycling.

As you can see, innovation management has a plethora of benefits for all business models. As long as you have the knowledge and appropriate tools, finding ways to help streamline your unique and ground-breaking ideas and make them a reality is only going to help your company stay ahead of the competition.

5 stages of the Innovation Process

Once the necessity for innovation management has been recognised, it’s not always easy to know where to go next. There are several stages of innovation that a normal idea will have to pass through before it becomes reality:


Discovering a need

An analytical team will try and discover where there is a gap in the current market and if something can be done to fill that niche. Technology and market screening will occur, as well as stakeholder analysis.


Conception or generating of ideas

 This can be done in a variety of ways, but often a team or individual will sit down and try to come out with new ideas that will be considered for development to meet the perceived need.


Proof of concept

This can be the most difficult and important phase because it is difficult to know which idea will have the greatest benefit to the individual or company in the long-term. During this phase the creative team will run business models, try out prototypes, test “form, function, and interface”, run tests and adjustments.


Developing the product or service

This phase usually takes a lot of money and effort and is the riskiest part of the process. Once you’ve started putting money into an idea it can be difficult and costly to back out and choose a different idea. The design is created and constructed, there are tests and adjustments, and a marketing and sales strategy is created.


Test and evaluation

During this stage, clinical tests and other tests are performed. The effect of the product is evaluated and then released to the intended market.

This is a simplified account of the innovation process. Every business also has to factor in the different departments that will be involved and how to pass information through the different involved parties.

Who Should be Included in an Innovation Team?

If you have not already created an innovation team, try to incorporate individuals who represent a variety of business functions. You could include people from areas such as:

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Many individuals are experienced in their respective fields, but often extra training can help your creative team not only excel individually but as a group. 

Areas to train your team in to boost an innovative culture:


Principles of conceptualising innovation.


Innovative procedures, such as reporting, holding meetings, and decision-making.


How to use helpful software to streamline the process and other creative techniques.


Different roles of team members and their responsibilities.


Having the team complete the training together can also help them to become a cohesive unit. The better that the team works together, the more efficient their production will be

Innovation team work

3 Common Business Challenges in Innovation Management

There are some very basic business problems that exist within innovation management. These issues can slow the innovation process or waste time and money, causing the system to break down and their companies to fall behind the competition.

1) Accessing Relevant Documents

When an innovative project has begun, it often must pass through a multitude of levels, even within a single corporation. Many companies have attempted and are attempting to use tools such as PowerPoint, Microsoft Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets to correlate their development across all necessary departments. However, many businesses are discovering that these software programs are limited in their capabilities and are often difficult to navigate swiftly. Some technologies are also restrictive on the number of employees with access to them, which can make it difficult for full collaboration to occur.

When an innovative team needs to show an interested party only a portion of the project, it can be difficult to direct them to the most important and applicable portion of the project. To make matters worse, any time collaboration needs to happen, there are usually so many levels within the project that it can be difficult for those in charge to decide which ideas to choose and which technologies to invest in.

Even when simply passing on the project to another section of the company for development, it can take the next set of the developers’ time, just to understand the many layers and find the portions that they are supposed to cultivate.

2) Platform Fatigue

Oftentimes, it’s important to be able to access all the project information in one place. With the myriad of different systems that are used in creating any given project, many businesses are also experiencing platform fatigue. When you have to search through files, email messages, PDFs, web links, documents, and spreadsheets in order to find the necessary data, employees can be overwhelmed. Like searching for a paper in a stack of papers, hours can be wasted while employees simply try to begin their work.

Moving from platform to platform can also split focus and attention, which almost guarantees that someone will miss something as personnel tries to complete their portions of the project.

Often, it is also difficult to know which tool will be best to solve an assigned problem. With so many options, it really isn’t surprising that employees can feel fatigued. This stress can cost companies money, motivation, productivity, and time. Searching for a system that is compatible with all computers and employees can also be a headache.

Even boring formats can contribute to platform fatigue, as staring at a screen for hours can be exhausting and mundane.

3) Advancing Technologies and Increased Need for Communication

In older business models, a team was simply able to discuss ideas and allow those ideas to organically move forward. A few people could easily identify a market need or client problem, and with their combined knowledge they could usually identify all relevant technologies and possibilities in order to provide a solution. However, this model is no longer effective.

Technology is advancing so quickly that no small group of individuals can be aware of all the possible relevant technologies and possibilities.

Many big organizations have multiple innovative teams who often have to collaborate and communicate with each other and other departments. They need to be able to do so easily and quickly.

Often, higher communication is necessary across all departments in order to ensure that all clients’ needs are met and any gaps in the current market are covered. Without collaboration in large companies, small groups may not be aware of issues that have arisen recently or how to make sure that they’re not solving problems that have already been corrected.

"I am passionate about innovation. Here at BMT we have always been known for our innovation and creativity in solving our customers’ challenges. Innovation will only work if there is a high level of collaboration within our staff and with our clients and colleagues. Effective collaboration requires an easily accessible and visually interactive platform."

Michael Barry,
Technical & Innovation Manager

About SharpCloud

SharpCloud brings together resources you currently use, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office 365 applications, allowing you to communicate, interact, and collaborate across multiple documents and data in context and by topic.

By gathering information from different data sources in one place, SharpCloud users can quickly create and explore powerful business stories that can be used as presentations, strategic roadmaps, or project portfolios. Thanks to embedded images, video, documents, and discussion, your business stories become visually impressive and truly interactive.

Truly data-driven – business stories can be built instantly using Excel and Office 365 Communication is made easy – turn multiple PowerPoint presentations into one visual conversation Seamless collaboration – access your data and stories from the cloud, on mobile, and on a touchscreen.


Learn More

SharpCloud for Innovation Management

There are many ways that SharpCloud and programs like it can facilitate proper innovation management

Provides a Visual Database that is Easily Accessible

SharpCloud is a very effective tool for the visual communication of data, especially compared to more traditional tools such as slide decks and spreadsheets that never really capture anyone’s imagination. Visually, SharpCloud is far more engaging, much easier to understand, and enables all users to see the bigger picture in an instant. The project output can be easily shared with individuals and viewed and collaborated on by as many people as desired. The way that the data is interpreted and displayed is visually appealing and can be viewed in a variety of formats.

It’s easy to see how this could be useful. An executive or stakeholder could quickly obtain the summary of a project that they were interested in without receiving too much technical detail. On the other hand, an engineer or business analyst would be able to quickly dig deeper and find any information that they might need.

SharpCloud acts as a visual database and repository for day to day innovations and is designed to encourage communication and collaboration, therefore providing an ongoing accrual of skills, progress, and day-by-day innovations.

Ability to Integrate with Existing Line of Business tools

SharpCloud is intuitive to use with minimal training required. On top of being very accessible, it differs from traditional software in that many different software programs and business tools can be integrated directly into SharpCloud without having to exit and open multiple programs.

A number of flexible, interactive views provide a unique perspective on your data, and a ‘home page’ function allows users to navigate through a story or project easily without having to search for and open a myriad of documents, simplifying the experience.

Microsoft Word, Excel, SharePoint, and Jira are just a few of the programs that can be integrated with SharpCloud. By leveraging and blending the data and collateral from multiple lines of business tools, SharpCloud stories create a simple visual lens across these tools.

Accessible to All Employees

SharpCloud is accessible to all employees in your business with a paid subscription. Public stories are accessible by anyone.

When all employees can submit ideas and check for solutions and problems, the process becomes much more streamlined. By gathering and communicating information via a platform accessible to all employees, the process or project becomes fully transparent to all personnel and stakeholders. This level of insight provides valuable opportunities to enhance collaboration as employees and teams are now able to see overlap or gaps in activities and work together to quickly find solutions.

Improved transparency also ensures accountability if a project is not completed on time, is over the budget, or if the product’s quality is subpar. Finding a platform that allows this level of open communication and collaboration is essential when keeping up with or racing against the pace of changing technology

“One of our recent initiatives wouldn’t have been as efficient without SharpCloud. We’re running a competition, where staff are being invited to come up with ideas and participate in an international 'think tank'. SharpCloud has helped us to save time and money and be more efficient in identifying achievable innovations, using this open channel of communication, collaboration and transparency.”

Michael Barry
Technical & Innovation Manager at BMT

Rising to the Front of Innovation

To strategize effectively in an agile way and to co-innovate takes a tool that facilitates collaboration, understanding, knowledge building, and shared ownership. Living, visual roadmaps that can be consulted and commented on in real time keep companies aligned with their markets and minimize requirements for formal, ‘one-off’ planning events. 

Neutral yet secure environments like the cloud help two organizations to work together to map out and execute developments. Both see the benefit without worrying about one party monopolizing the process. In place of the previous rigidity and divergence, strategy, road mapping, and co-innovation all become organic, continually adapting as the future unfolds.

By utilizing agile and collaborative tools and finding the right platform to support co-innovation and transparency within your team and organization, you can simplify and streamline the process of innovation. Now, instead of reinventing the wheel, everyone can play a part in making sure that it’s the first and finest wheel on the market.



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