The Apollo program has been called the greatest technological achievement in human history. Apollo stimulated many areas of technology, leading to over 1,800 spinoff products as of 2015. One component of that incredible feat of science and engineering that doesn’t get much attention is LC-39 or Launch Complex 39, the rocket launch site at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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The site and its collection of facilities supported the Apollo program, and later after modification, the Space Shuttle program. It continues to be active with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 as well as being modified to support launches of the SpaceX’s Dragon 2, Falcon Heavy and NASA’s Space Launch System. So essentially without this incredible platform, space travel and exploration as we’ve grown accustomed to and taken for granted for the last 50 years wouldn’t have happened.
Coming backdown to earth this thought piece builds on Fostering Innovation with technological solutions – Part 1 and takes a much more tactical drill down into the growing market of innovation management solutions and who to watch out for, as well as the wider innovation ecosystem and harnessing the crowd to best effect.
Innovation and Idea management platforms
It isn’t too much of a leap into the darkness to see the similarities to the world of innovation management software and their ability to act as the starting-off point for organisational missions of discovery and innovation.
According to G2 Crowd innovation management technology supports early-stage activities, such as idea generation, evaluation and selection, as well as later-stage activities like innovation portfolio management, project management and resource planning. Also known as Idea management, or ideation management, software structures the process of gathering insight on products, then organizing and managing those ideas for improvement or development. This feedback comes from employees, customers, and partners, etc., for the explicit purpose of adding the feedback into future products or product releases. Idea management software enables companies to solicit feedback via email, web-based applications, or forms that employ online collaboration channels to discuss the feedback to capture and store ideas. Idea management software is a step-up from the traditional office suggestion box that allows for strategy that enables companies of all sizes to continuously innovate and grow. Idea management software facilitates the full transparency of a company, as anyone who has access to the application can track ideas from inception to implementation. Ideas are collected from all areas of the organization, beyond specialized departments like R&D, product management, and marketing. These products integrate with team collaboration tools to allow users to manage both internal and external-facing feedback.
The Innovation Management software market is fragmented, with many firms offering similar core capabilities. Differences between firms largely concern size, market presence, geographic focus, depth of functionality and deployment approach.
According to the Forrester Market Guide for Innovation Management in March 2016, the top 20 major firms had a combined total revenue of between $100 million and $150 million in 2014 and their view was that it equates to a total market value of almost $500 million per year. Given the market growth and the blurring of lines between propositions I would put the market value at well over $1bn.
The innovation management solution market is growing because more companies are looking to these solutions to address the business priority of innovation. Innovation management solutions are becoming a part of their innovation tool box. New entrants are attracted by the perceived low barriers to entry, low start-up costs and limited industry standards. A recent scan of the marketplace showed up more than two hundred firms. In my experience when the market exhibits these characteristics, it can be difficult for clients to select the most appropriate offering for their needs and to deliver best value. This challenge is also exacerbated by organisations still trying to build their own bespoke applications although in my experience this is reducing as the software sector is moving into 3rd and 4th generation offerings, where the range of functionality and depth of expertise in the organisations makes it difficult or unrealistic to justify for someone to start on the road of doing it to themselves.
I presented the image below at the Design Thinking and Business Innovation Summit. It represents a pseudo-scientific approach to demystifying the challenge of determining what would be the best software solution to support fostering innovation.
As innovation management platforms become commoditized and the market congested, firms are faced with the options of more technology innovations (including Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics and Gamification), providing innovation process consulting, integration capabilities or a combination of models to determine their future success. With the introduction of this widening range of skillsets and functionalities in offerings, firms run the risk of spreading themselves to thinly and incurring what is essentially an identity crisis both to themselves as well as the wider market. Getting this right requires a fine balance of entrepreneurial management and faithfulness in the vision as the short-term allure of other parts of the value chain may lead firms to be ‘stuck in the middle’.
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