One of the topics that I’ve been discussing often with my customers and partners is innovation management and ideation solutions. This is a hot topic and companies are trying to find new ways to make money, save money, improve processes and increase collaboration with their employees, customers and partners.
These solutions help solve business problems around:
- Employee/customer/partner engagement & retention
- Generating and surfacing new ideas from “the crowd” (aka crowdsourcing)
- Finding the next blockbuster product
- Improving existing business processes
- Getting constructive feedback
- Killer application – driving adoption of collaboration solutions
Some of my recent presentations on driving end user adoption for SharePoint and taking SharePoint to the next level have demonstrated how innovation management solutions fit into the broader Microsoft SharePoint and Project Server landscape. The Microsoft Innovation Management enterprise solutions center provides some great background information and resources for this space. Craig Rode from the Microsoft Manufacturing industry team has some great resources published on innovation solutions available for purchase.
I’ve been looking at innovation management solutions for about 6 months now. In May 2011, my colleague, Chad Gronbach, and I began working with Joe Boggio and 2 partners, Pcubed and DataLan to deliver 2 innovation focused events at the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Waltham, MA Those events were so well received by our customers that we have been working to expand the offerings and focus on innovation within the Northeast District.
Chad and I have recently been teaming up with Simon Floyd and additional Microsoft partners. Customers often ask me what the various options are and the discussion usually comes down to one of build vs. buy. Below are the options that I’ve worked most extensively with and encourage you to check out.
1. The innovation portion of the demonstration that Chad and I built for the MTC event in May was literally built in 1 day using out of the box SharePoint and Project Server capabilities including InfoPath forms, workflows and discussion lists. We constructed an InfoPath forms list for submitting corporate “challenges” that then notified people via a workflow to submit and review“responses” during a period of time that the challenge was active for. We also had an “innovation idea exchange” (SharePoint discussion board) where people could submit ideas and give feedback to others. We leveraged the SharePoint rating functionality for getting feedback and sorting on the top ideas. We also used the SharePoint managed metadata service to allow for consistent categorization of topics. Below is a screenshot of the rollup views that we presented on the innovation site home page. If you are new to SharePoint 2010, then I encourage you to review my prior post on making the business case for social computing on SharePoint 2010.
2. At the SharePoint Conference in October, Simon Floyd presented a session on “Managing Innovation with SharePoint & Project Server 2010”. During this session Simon demonstrated a free innovation solution accelerator that Microsoft is providing “as is” to Microsoft customers and partners to get their solution off the ground with a set of prebuilt SharePoint site templates and webparts – as well as the ability to “promote” an approved idea to a formal project in Project Server. A screenshot of the solution is below. 2014 Update: This solution is now supported, managed, and offered directly by our partner, QuantumPM.
3. Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) has some innovation focused solution areas and accelerators that can be purchased which significantly shorten the time to develop and deploy them while offering for a high amount of customization and flexibility.
- Capgemini and Spigit have teamed up to offer innovation business, consulting and software solutions based on SharePoint and Project Server.
- Pcubed and PTC are also offering innovation business, consulting and software solutions based on SharePoint and Project Server.
- SharePoint social computing partners like NewsGator and Neudesic are also solutions that many of my customers evaluate in this space. Their solutions are built on top of the SharePoint platform.