Starting the Transition to Open Innovation

The promise of "open innovation" is compelling: more competitive products in a quicker and more cost-effective manner. So if you’re a small business owner looking to build a culture of innovation, you might wonder how you can start the transition toward a more open innovation environment. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

Innovation is more qualitative than quantitative. In practice, there are many types of innovation, including product, organizational, technology, and channel innovation. Therefore no two consultants will design exactly the same innovation process.

To make the best decisions, you may need different idea evaluation criteria and implementation processes for each type of innovation.

An open innovation culture recognizes valuable information vital to corporate competitiveness is often available from customers, resellers, distributors, retailers, vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, contractors, agents, other companies, and even from direct and indirect competitors.

Companies are currently using disparate items such as databases, project management tools, groupware, wikis, and social networks to manage innovation. A more consistent approach is needed, crossing geographic, organizational, and networking boundaries.

A Web-based open innovation management system can oversee the entire innovation process. It will maximize contributions from all internal and external constituencies, while maintaining a secure environment to protect intellectual property. Such a system ensures the rich front-end history of the evaluation process is seamlessly available to the back-end implementation processes so that proper design trade-offs are made.

Companies that wouldn’t dream of operating without an ERP or CRM system should view an open innovation management system as the first step in the transition to open innovation.

David Burns CEO Induct Software Holliston, Mass.

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