By Jim Lundy
The art and science of developing new products is as challenging as it ever was, but today, in a digital era, it is getting harder to find that next big idea. Look at any great product and there were always a number of factors that went into how that product came to be. In the old days, it was usually a firm belief, a conviction from the Chief Engineer or Chief Product Officer, that catapulted their idea forward. Jump ahead to 2012 and there is more at stake and CEOs are under more pressure than ever to refresh their products and services.
Idea Engines, also referred to as Idea Management, are getting smarter. In fact, our belief is that given the new toolsets from firms such as Spigit, that most enterprises will have to invest in Idea Engines just to keep ahead of the competition. Spigit recently acquired Crowdcast, which gives it a powerful new set of capabilities that makes the quest for the next big idea a shorter journey. We’ll be publishing a separate First Cut that analyzes that acquisition, but the implications for enterprises are already unfolding.
In his pioneering book Being Digital, Nick Negropante in 1995 envisioned a digital world in which competitors would emerge that leveraged digital technology to disrupt industries that previously had large barriers to entry. Just six years later, in 2001, Apple launched the iPod and changed the way music was distributed. Sony, which sold the popular Sony Walkman, never saw it coming. Today, the risks to companies and their staffs of not innovating are great. Not having the next big idea and not taking steps to ensure that the idea is being vetted, can threaten the very survival of the firm.
That brings us back to the need for Idea Engines. Vetting ideas is often the hardest part. The best ideas often never see the light of day due to a variety of factors. Leveraging an Idea Engine as part of the product planning and development life cycle isn’t optional anymore. It is fast becoming as fundamental to that craft as CRM is to selling. Just as a CRM tool won’t do the selling, Idea Engines won’t design a product. They will however, ensure that that the idea for that next great product isn’t missed. That said, we do see an era emerging where Idea Pipelines in Product Teams will become as common as the Opportunity Pipeline in Sales.
Idea Management is still relatively new and it doesn’t have the coverage of Social Software or CRM. It does have a growing number of vendors (e.g. BrainBank, BrightIdea, Spigit, and numerous others). So, while the race is on to innovate, by having Idea Management Software deployed, the probability of success in finding the next big idea just got better.