Wednesday, June 25, 2008

OVO Innovation CEO Discusses Idea Management at Dell and SalesForce.com

OVO Innovation VP Sales and Marketing Jeffrey Phillips recently posted on Dell's and SalesForce.com's initiatives in relation to Idea Management (Idea Storm and SalesForce Ideas respectively). Phillips argues that capturing ideas in a corporate "social networking" space is the easy part - back end management processes to evaluate test, develop and commercialise the best ideas is the hard part. Phillips writes:
". . . anyone who works in innovation will tell you that idea generation is easy - managing, evaluating and maturing ideas is the hard part. We think this is where the actual value in innovation resides - having a process and team that can consistently manage ideas and convert them into new products and services."
Phillips argues that open suggestion models such as enterprise social networking or crowdsourcing approaches:
". . . are interesting but will ultimately run into many of the same problems that doomed the physical suggestion box:
  1. Too many ideas are submitted for the teams to manage
  2. There is no downstream process for managing ideas successfully
  3. The ideas address too many different challenges and issues to manage effectively
  4. The ideas usually don't address issues the management team considers strategic
  5. There are concerns about the ownership and legality of the ideas"
Phillips, of course, makes a very solid point - effective back end processes to evaluate and filter ideas and invest in the best ones is fundamental to any effective Idea Management System. However, it is not so clear at this stage that the criticism applies forcefully to Dell. Dell seem to argue that they already have effective back-end management processes for assessing ideas, and IdeaStorm is simply a front end for feeding ideas into that system. Dawn Laccalade from Dell talks about Dell's backend management processes for Idea Management in IdeaStorm in a recent podcast (start about 1:50 in to the talk). Whether Dell's backend management processes can scale effectively to deal with the more than 9000 ideas generated is the key question for Dell's implementation.

One of the most high profile implementations of SalesForce Ideas for Idea Management is through Starbucks' my starbucks idea portal (see here and here for some brief information on Starbucks's solution). Dawn Laccalade (above) notes that when Starbucks implemented their system, they were quite surprised by the number of people they needed evaluating ideas (around 30 people FTE).

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