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Innovation Blog


Analytics: The Business Value Beyond New Ideas

Many of us innovation practitioners have found that the business topic of innovation is increasingly devolving into a search for that one magic idea that will change your enterprise, sort of like a more mature version of Pokemon-Go.

Some of this devolution results from the emergence of ever-simpler software tools in the innovation area that ‘game-ify’ the experience and seek to solicit as many participants as they can entice, hoping that its primary goal of uncovering the great ‘idea’ can be conjured by ‘fun.’

While this well intentioned approach (a subject of another blog post) can arguably be defended statistically based on the wisdom of crowds, we are still left with a portfolio of ideas of varying degrees of merit that may have a miniscule success rate of prototype investment, much less production implementation within a particular organisation.

Many of us innovation practitioners have found that the business topic of innovation is increasingly devolving into a search for that one magic idea that will change your enterprise, sort of like a more mature version of Pokemon-Go.

This ratio of ideas to return on investment leaves many innovation practitioners with a business case problem. There is a pronounced tendency towards a spike and valley rate of return for the portfolio, which may test the patience of sponsors over a run of fallow results. The mere citation of increased participation rates may not forestall the ire of budget cutters. Innovation programs need something that will smooth the spike and valley pattern of success.

What can be a complementary business case to idea production during fallow seasons? One answer can be seen in other industries: telemetry. As an example, Imaginatik has several footwear manufacturers who have embraced IoT and are pursuing possible secondary markets, such as healthcare, for the behavioural data harvested from shoes during use (a.k.a. telemetry). Why should idea production be any different?

Idea production telemetry uncovers how your organisation ‘thinks’ – not only what it thinks, but how. That is why there is inherent business value in the telemetry of idea production that could help ‘pay its own way’ and smooth the spikes and valleys of day to day idea generation results.

Now a very mature practice, enterprises a generation ago embarked on efforts to map business processes to realise continuous improvement opportunities. These efforts codified tacit, often unseen yet critical, activities. Admittedly, business processes lent themselves well to codification due to the sequential nature of operations, yielding valuable KPIs – a type of telemetry. Idea production in that mapping domain would have remained a ‘black box’ and overlooked as a target low hanging fruit for improvement opportunity.

Idea production has only recently benefited from the ability to codify and render invisible – seemingly intangible – processes with the ‘mainstreaming’ and open sourcing of computer visualisation, semantic analysis and network analysis disciplines and tools, overcoming the ‘unstructured’ or meandering (non-sequential) nature of idea gestation.

So what type of telemetry can be gleaned from idea generation? Well, how does your organisation naturally react to a focused stimulae, like a problem? Can your organisation spontaneously provide possible solutions or does it need ponderous processes to be implemented? Knowing that there is a spontaneous capacity is incredibly valuable to assess your organisation, with or without a particular idea succeeding or not.

Do I have one organisation that generally follows the structure of my P&L or do I actually have many virtual self-organising communities that, depending on the subject matter, I have yet to exercise or value?

Are my global business units and external sources speaking the same language around a topic or are there significant gaps, conflicts, or agreement that can be used to increase network interactions – increase the number of organisational synapses critical to transform “conceptual language” to “pragmatic execution.”

It is important to stress that even without the Elon Musk-like magic idea, the telemetry of stimulae / response provides valuable insight in how to leverage this heretofore intangible – typically unseen – beast an organisation in addition to historical process KPIs and financial valuations.

Just as a shoe, once the primary product, can become a venue for behaviour data accumulation, idea management can be viewed as the channel and catalyst, not necessarily the goal, of organisational development. Breaking this idea-centric ‘what’ view of idea production and discarding the notion that innovation is the process of rubbing Aladdin’s lamp, then other value propositions become easy to develop to smooth the spikes and valleys limited by current practices.

Imaginatik has long been the leader in this type of analysis with a library of analytics written by data scientists for data scientists and sophisticated practitioners. No matter what platform you are currently using to provoke, collect or report on ideas in your organisation, Imaginatik can enhance your practice with subscription analytical services to define your strategic telemetry requirements and ‘read your tea-leaves’ on a continuous basis.

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