Innovation is a central lever in today’s business environment, yet many companies react too late to important changes in their corporate landscape.

Even the most successful brands have to keep up with the rapid pace in order not to be displaced by more dynamic and aggressive companies. But where do you start when the necessary structures in the company are not yet in place?

Based on our long-standing cooperation with international innovation leaders, we have developed a consulting approach consisting of four components using frameworks, methods, and training to establish and encourage successful and holistic innovation management.

Structure & Organization (Step 1 + 2)

Step 1: Determine the Innovation Maturity Level

Do you know how your company performs in the field of innovation management? How mature is the level of your innovation approach? Do you have a clearly formulated innovation strategy and dedicated goals?

First of all, the maturity level and status quo of the existing innovation management in the company are analyzed on the basis of an Innovation Maturity Score.

With the help of questions on innovation strategy and objectives, innovation organization, and processes, methodological competence, software solutions and the evaluation of success, a personal innovation benchmark and an individually tailored roadmap is set up to show the potentials for increasing innovation performance.

Step 2: Create a Framework for Innovation

Once the maturity assessment has been completed, the structural and organizational framework for innovation management is defined. Together with the customer, we develop a framework for future innovation, technology, startup or trend management. Experiences and best practices from other projects in the same industry or similar problems are incorporated. First and foremost, it is about developing a common understanding of innovation and the requirements for innovation management.

The developed frameworks reflect various topics of the front end of innovation. We differentiate between Innovation Management Frameworks, Trend/Technology/Startup Management Frameworks, and Roadmapping Frameworks.

Step 3: Run Innovation Workshops

After the structural and organizational part is set, it needs to be filled with life. Therefore, step three of the innovation approach deals with the context-related and methodological elaboration of innovation. Our innovation approach focuses on three different areas in order to take a holistic (end-to-end) view on innovation management: Where to play? How to win? How to execute?

The Where to Play focuses on the identification of trends, technologies or startups that influence the business.

  • Which trends can I currently observe and how do they influence my corporate environment?
  • Which new technologies and associated patents are of crucial importance for my company?
  • How do established companies and newcomers from different industries use these trends and technologies?
  • Which startups mix up my industry or could serve as strategic partners for new technologies?

By linking this information, the threats and opportunities in a company’s environment can be uncovered and transferred into so-called opportunity spaces (advantageous innovation fields) as part of the corporate strategy.

The How to Win section enables targeted idea and project development and answers the following questions:

  • How do I address my defined fields of innovation within the framework of targeted idea campaigns?
  • How do I plan and control my campaigns and how do I achieve a high level of participation by the relevant idea providers?
  • How do I move from individual projects to a sustainable innovation portfolio?
  • Which innovation projects have the potential to achieve the strategic goals that have been set?

Our innovation management approach, therefore, does not begin with a simple idea collection, but with targeted environmental scanning. Only by linking defined fields of innovation, the strategic orientation and development of qualified projects can be ensured.

The How to Execute phase deals with the further development of ideas with high potential into clear business models:

  • What are the detailed concepts behind the most promising projects?
  • Which possible business models are suitable for a successful market launch?
  • How do I manage a portfolio of innovation projects and related investments?
  • Does the innovation pipeline contain enough products to serve existing and future markets?
  • What internal and external skills and resources do I need to invest in to develop future technologies and products?

By visualizing and contextualizing dependencies between markets, products, technologies and resources in an integrated roadmap across all business units, targeted investment decisions can be made for medium to long-term product and technology planning.

Step 4: Integrate Dedicated Software Solutions

Once the foundations have been laid for holistic innovation management, the individual processes can be supported step by step by software solutions. Digitization in innovation management is becoming more and more popular and raises its performance and professionalism to a whole new level.

Software-supported trend and technology management, the automated analysis of patents and publications, the identification of so-called “weak signals” with the help of big data and the analysis of the direct competition and startup environment play a central role here. Using so-called management dashboards, the innovation manager always has an up-to-date overview of the innovation project portfolio. By means of a transparent innovation portfolio, innovation managers and decision makers are in a position to turn projects in the pipeline into groundbreaking products, services or business models. The transparency of this procedure enables targeted investment decisions and a constant alignment with the corporate strategy.

Measurable Success?

One of the most frequently asked questions in innovation is about measurability.

What is the added value and how can the successes achieved be expressed in KPIs?

The identified innovation opportunity spaces represent one of the most important indicators. Short and medium-term KPIs can be observed here, e.g. the sales volume per identified growth area in relation to market potential or the general number of identified opportunity spaces as well as the number of innovation projects per opportunity space. Cultural factors, such as employee involvement in innovation activities, can also be measured.

In How to win and How to execute areas, it is particularly important to establish long-term KPIs and critical user metrics for selected innovation concepts and various business cases. Strategic and operative key figures here are, e.g. the ROII (Return on Innovation Investment), the number of innovation projects carried out and completed, sales growth as well as customer satisfaction through new products or services and general time saved.

This is a guest post by Sophia Hübner, Marketing Manager at ITONICS, a leading provider of software solutions and consulting for innovation management and sustainable strategy development. With the modular software suite, companies can collect, connect and track relevant information, inspirations, ideas, initiatives, and projects. The innovation strategy can be actively shaped and managed – from trend, technology and idea management all the way to technology and product roadmapping. Innovation leaders around the globe rely on the professionalism of ITONICS such as Audi, BMW, Cisco, Intel, PepsiCo, Siemens, and Total.