By David Ritter, Chief Technology Officer, InnoCentive
To compete in today’s economy, companies must find ways to innovate faster with their current resources. Open innovation (OI) is no longer just an interesting new approach to experiment with – OI is an essential core capability for R&D intensive enterprises. If you rely on innovation to drive your business, and you’re not proficient in OI, you’re at a disadvantage – because many of your competitors are already leveraging the talent and insight available throughout the world.
To help enterprises build this critical capability, we are very excited with the launch of the third generation of our @Work enterprise platform, InnoCentive@Work 3. @Work is InnoCentive’s SaaS offering, bringing the InnoCentive.com Challenge methodology into the organization. It is a web-based suite of tools and services that helps companies utilize the diverse knowledge inside and outside of their organization by creating online communities and facilitating collaboration to solve important business challenges, regardless of where solutions are hiding.
Like InnoCentive.com, InnoCentive@Work has the unique ability to present each critical problem to a variety of communities that may provide a solution. With InnoCentive@Work 3, companies not only have access to the talent and insight already present in their employees, it allows them to engage and collaborate even more broadly by connecting with their external communities of customers, consultants and partners, thereby creating newer communities of potential Solvers and increasing the likelihood of finding breakthrough solutions that yield measurable business results. Most significantly, InnoCentive@Work 3 is built for flexibility: it adapts to the community’s optimal style of working and collaborating, allowing Solver teams to define the voting and rating rules of their group.
Essentially, InnoCentive@Work delivers an ability to practice “strategic sourcing for solutions”. Strategic sourcing is a standard practice of manufacturing companies – they aggregate their demand for materials across their factories, using their entire scale to improve their negotiating position with their suppliers. The information collected through the strategic sourcing process allows the company to make careful, leveraged buying decisions. Manufacturing firms that didn’t develop a strong strategic sourcing capability in the 1980s or 1990s pretty much aren’t around today.
With InnoCentive@Work, your enterprise aggregates your “demand for solutions” – by identifying, formulating and publishing the challenges that matter to your firm. @Work allows you to develop these challenges and manage them in a single repository, where all relevant problem solvers can see them and collaborate towards a solution. This central view of your important problems defines your strategic priorities in a powerful way, helping to ensure that your internal and external resources are focused on the work that matters most. @Work allows you to find solutions (Eli Lilly reports that 80% of problems posted to their @Work system were at least partially solved), and also to centrally track the results and impact of your innovation efforts.
We believe InnoCentive@Work 3 is the logical first step toward true open innovation. Developed in close collaboration with current enterprise Seekers, @Work 3 not only extends clients’ ability to collaborate with communities both inside and outside of their company, it also empowers people with backgrounds or roles outside of the specific problem area to make insightful contributions to the solution, successfully fueling innovation.
I’ll be writing more about how lessons from the history of Strategic Sourcing can help inform the successful adoption of Open Innovation within the enterprise.
Chief Technology Officer