Innovation Software

By Martin Gilliard

A warm welcome the the innovation software section of the site.

With innovation being at the forefront of most company agendas many companies offer software to help drive this initiative forward.

Such tools often promote and assist collaboration and knowledge sharing. Enabling employees to share ideas and connect with other like-minded individuals to collectively bring ideas to fruition and to resolve obstacles that might inhibit progress.


(Photo Credit: Ruiwen Chua)

“Innovation is not just a nice-to-do, but also a real priority. Great technology is the only thing that allows you to protect profit margins. We've got a great management team; I’m trying to add a culture based on innovation and technology. We’re investing in technologies that are going to differentiate us in years to come. “ – Jeffery Immelt (2002) Chief Executive Officer of General Electric.

Innovation software tools often incorporate such features as:

  • A database for recording and tracking ideas
  • An ability to record decisions or action items that have been made as a result of an idea
  • A voting facility to enable users to rate the validity and or value of an idea.
  • An ability to set up a community or portal for a particular innovative project. Users can often subscribe as team members, subject matter experts or simply subscribe to keep informed or to learn from the project.
  • Enabling documents to be uploaded to the project repositories.
  • Allowing subscribers of portals or communities to post questions, announcements or problems
  • Chat rooms

Knowledge management is a key aspect of most of these software tools. 

3M have effectively used knowledge management tools to assist with transferring employee knowledge and experience with other employees. Knowledge management tools assist in motivating the employees to share information, an essential ingredient for innovation to flourish.

"Effective Knowledge Management has parallels with effective innovation. For innovation to take place, a company needs caring people who are willing to share for the greater good of the company and creative people who have the ability to turn ideas into practical products and services." - Brand A (1998) Knowledge Management and Innovation at 3M, Journal of knowledge management.

The most effective tools enable individuals to operate within communities. Sharing / transferring knowledge within communities enables a strategic focus for development of knowledge and ideas in pursuit of common goals.

Communities promote intrinsic motivation (intrinsic means innate or within; intrinsic motivation is therefore ones internal motivation to keep going; it is the form of motivation that drives us to help others), which is a necessity for creativity and innovation to flourish.

Generally tools should simulate environments that were previously conducive to innovation. Key elements to simulate include accessibility to experts in individual fields, cross department / division networking and providing the means to enable the sharing of ideas and practices.

It is important to recognize that knowledge production is a social process. Prior to knowledge management tools knowledge sharing was often face-to-face interaction (e.g. at the coffee machine, during cigarette breaks, by the water cooler, working lunches and scheduled meetings).

Innovation software tools simulate this form of interaction via specialized communities, news based emails of user problems, community events, discussion forums and chat sessions. 

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