Smoothing the path to greater innovation

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Noblis is a nonprofit science, technology, and strategy organisation headquartered in Reston, Virginia. It invests heavily in a variety of research areas and wanted a platform where employees could publish challenges and track ideas that spark innovation across the enterprise. The team were seeking technical excellence through a platform that would meet their needs and be easily implemented throughout the organisation.


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ideas received in a month

“The Wazoku idea management platform meshed with the technologies people in our corporation were already using. The fact that the tools we know how to use could be directly embedded with the platform directly drove up the visibility of ideas for people who were not normally active participants.”

Peter Mork
Corporate Innovation Liaison

The background: choose custom-built or existing platform?

Noblis was debating whether to use an existing provider or to build its own platform. Their needs included iterative refinement (being able to publish a challenge, collect ideas and select the ideas to progress) and the ability to select teams to refine ideas during different stages of the challenge workflow. They were searching for a solution that included the design and technical specifications they needed, but also a platform with ease of implementation within their organisation.

According to Karl Wunderlich, Corporate Research Program Manager, more than half of Noblis’ scientists, engineers and developers work at remote sites around the country. Therefore it was crucial to find a way to connect these geographically dispersed individuals who could contribute in the development of specific research ideas.

The solution: a powerful off-the-shelf solution

After beginning to research pre-existing platforms, Noblis’ Director of IT found our idea management platform in the SharePoint Marketplace, as a trusted Microsoft Partner. Noblis found that it had all the capabilities they were searching for. Rather than spending upwards of $60,000 to build, update and maintain their own platform, they decided to use the Wazoku platform, as it is an easily configurable off-the-shelf solution. Its seamless integration with SharePoint allows users to contribute and interact with ideas through SharePoint’s platform. This makes engagement for current SharePoint users as easy as a single click.

The onboarding of the Wazoku platform was regulated by Noblis’ IT Security and IT Support teams. We worked closely with these teams, taking the security of company information very seriously, making sure all corporate-required scans were in place. Also, our Customer Success Team worked very closely with Noblis throughout the whole onboarding process to make sure everything ran smoothly. We’re proud that Noblis found our team to be extremely accommodating and patient with company requirements.

In terms of platform functionality, Noblis was especially happy with the Wazoku platform’s customisable workflows. Since every user group has its own process for progressing ideas and engaging different users, customisation has been important for the organisation. Single Sign On (SSO) has also been key to their success. Noblis had previous challenges with engagement on other platforms that required separate login details; the SSO feature eliminates these issues. Noblis identifies this as one of the reasons the organisation has experienced high engagement within the platform.

Outcomes & ROI

The primary objective for the platform was not to save money, but rather to allow Noblis to engage in novel, more innovative initiatives that would allow them to be more competitive in the contracting world.

Noblis initially purchased the Wazoku platform to pitch research and development efforts. In two months, they developed a portfolio of more than two dozen research projects; 30% of these research ideas have now been funded.

The Wazoku platform also helped Noblis manage proposals for ideas, saving the company 1,000 people hours by filtering and progressing ideas that met certain thresholds.

A significant return on investment

Although originally purchased as a tool for research development, the Wazoku platform has become an outlet for employees to discuss challenges and offer ideas they are interested in. Noblis has engaged over half of the organisation in the research programme alone, a significant return on investment recognised by the senior corporate leadership team.

In the most engaged month, Noblis saw 200 ideas and over 600 comments on those ideas, with the average idea receiving 20 unique views. This level of engagement has been better than at any point in the company’s history. They are continuing to track engagement on an ongoing basis to ensure that employee satisfaction and innovation contributions are consistently on the rise.

“The Wazoku platform’s single leading selling point is the transparency of the process,” said Peter Mork, Corporate Innovation Liaison. Although that’s why to do it, the reason that it has worked so well for Noblis is the integrations tied to other tools employees use daily, such as Microsoft Office. “The tools we are familiar with work seamlessly well with Wazoku’s idea management software.”

Noblis is always looking at new ways of using the Wazoku platform. They have a continuous internal innovation challenge to propose ways to improve internal efficiencies, as well as another challenge focused on proposing ways of using their office space at their new headquarters in Reston, Virginia.