Idea management systems are one way to approach innovation and product development. They provide a structured and disciplined approach for managing idea generation, capture, collaboration, assessment, implementation, and outcome monitoring. In 2010, Gartner’s Emerging Tech Hype Cycle put the technology as being 2-5 years from mainstream adoption. I hadn’t really paid much attention to this category until the recent announcement by Inmagic of IdeaNet, its “next-generation innovation application,” powered by Inmagic Presto.
Inmagic, which has some 5,000 customers worldwide, has been developing software solutions for nearly 30 years. In 2008, it moved to clearly position the company in the social knowledge network space with a new version of Inmagic Presto, which was designed to serve as a platform for creating high impact “social knowledge networks” (SKN). SKNs combine “people, content, and the wisdom of the community.” Since then, the company has focused on building applications on top of Presto, including KnowledgeNet, AssociatioNet, and Presto for Social Libraries.
The latest application, IdeaNet, is designed to help business-to-business product development teams bring together their knowledge and expertise with customer feedback and insight to generate ideas, manage the idea development process, and fuel product innovation. It’s about clarification and broadening of ideas. It brings the voice of the customer into the development process. It promotes idea generation and validation through enhanced dialogue between internal staff and customers to ensure that you build what customers value (will pay for).
The company says that, unlike other Social CRM and idea management providers, IdeaNet does not consider internal collaboration with staff and external communication with customers to be mutually exclusive. IdeaNet fosters collaboration across all constituents. With an open but moderated process to solicit and select ideas for development, IdeaNet facilitates an idea through the entire innovation cycle. It includes features like moderated idea management to flag and screen idea submissions, community feedback and voting to move ideas through phases of the innovation cycle, forums and blogs to move important discussions out of email, and advanced reporting to view an idea from multiple perspectives.
Phil Green, Inmagic’s CTO, says the company first looked at some other ideation systems out there and actually did a trial of one before deciding to build its own system. Green says they wanted a system where it was simple to do everything in one place. They didn’t want to have to train users. IdeaNet makes it easy to find ideas, to organize and analyze ideas, and for product managers to keep the signal-to-noise ratio high. IdeaNet makes it easy to create a dialogue at both the idea level and in forums, he says. “This is not a social exercise. It’s about improving the product.”
Green says the company is running IdeaNet internally at Inmagic. The first customer for the product is Kronos, the global workforce management solutions company. Kronos is implementing the technology to improve the innovation dialogue and participation between Kronos software developers and its customer community. Kronos is currently converting from another ideation system and is very enthusiastic about the additional capabilities in IdeaNet. Kronos looked at the top seven systems recommended by Forrester and Gartner and opted to go with IdeaNet because it brings the community and ideation capabilities together in one product. Green says a number of its Presto customers are currently considering and testing IdeaNet.
Annual license pricing begins at $1 per user /per month for a 500-user community dropping to less than 15 cents per user for larger communities. There’s a minimum price of $5,000/year.
Companies using an idea management system could have the potential to reshape competitive positioning in an industry. “Ideas are the basis of all innovation, and without the right support structure in place, even the best ideas can’t be put into action,” says Ron Matros, CEO of Inmagic. “Organizations are facing more pressure than ever to develop and bring new products to the market faster so they can stay competitive and relevant.”
Barb Mosher, writing at CMSWire says, “Many believe that involving customers in the product idea process is the perfect way to ensure that you are building the products customers want. Kind of obvious I know, but it’s still not common place in many organizations. Applications like IdeaNet may be the answer to changing that.”
White paper: “Addressing the Innovation Imperative for B2B Companies.”
IdeaNet Product brochure
“Checklist for Evaluating Idea Management Systems”
Webinar: “Winnovate: Four Keys to Successful Innovation”
Innovation blog posts
Ideation blog posts
IdeaNet screen shots