The most popular post I’ve written to date is a review of prediction market software. Today’s post is going to be the same, but for idea/innovation software (henceforth referred to as innovation software).
Trying to even find and identify all the different types of innovation software is difficult because of the different ways people and companies think about innovation. Prediction markets are straightforward; they’re futures markets, so the software is largely the interface between the user and the order book on the database. That is not at all so for innovation software. Different people think about innovation in different ways, which I referred to in a previous post.
The list below is likely not complete, but I believe it does pick up the major players.
Digg for Ideas (ranking systems)
Salesforce – Salesforce’s solution is really well known, having been used by Starbucks in the myStarbucksIdea contest and also in Dell’s IdeaStorm. It’s a simple popularity contest, but tied in nicely with Salesforce’s platform. I’ve heard, however, that it required a significant time investment on Starbuck’s/Dell’s part in order to properly evaluate the highest-ranked ideas internally, even before they ever reached the stage of implementation.
BrightIdea – The information on BrightIdea’s software is relatively scarce; just a list of features. It looks like it’s trying to be a one-stop shop for everything, from research to idea ranking to analytics to rewards to financials and more. I understand that it’s a fairly mature product, and they have some solid clients. Overall, it’s a bit of a dark horse.
Hype Idea Management – This is a German product, and looks to be fairly basic; it’s just an idea capture and rating system. To me it looks both too basic (in general) and too complex (particularly when it comes to ranking/rating).
Idea Central from imaginatik – This is yet another piece of software that seems to exist only in a list of bulletpoints and large blocks of text. Based on their claims of paying clients it must exist and work, but I would certainly appreciate some screenshots and demos to understand what it actually focuses on.
Spigit – I’m really not sure what to think of Spigit. They look to have a fairly advanced product, which is actually three products: IdeaSpigit, InnovationSpigit, and ContestSpigit. IdeaSpigit seems to be a standard “Digg for ideas” model, where you get feedback from customers like the Salesforce IdeaExchange. InnovationSpigit is an application to use internally, with quite (and needlessly?) sophisticated algorithms to rate/rank ideas. It also bills itself as a prediction market, so I’m not sure how much of the system is a ranking/rating system and how much of it is a market-based system. Finally, ContestSpigit is the same kind of system but for a specific campaign.
Spigit seems to have a good client base and their software has won an award or two, but it’s tough to tell how useful it actually is for their clients. To me it appears to be needlessly complex, but I believe these systems should be simple and useable above all else. Their marketing positions them as a significant competitor in this industry, but I’m not sure how much is hype and how much is truth.
Market-based (aka betting-based) solutions
Nosco IdeaExchange – Nosco is a great company from Denmark that I first met a couple of years ago. They first developed a portfolio of software applications that included prediction markets and what they call an Idea Exchange. Since then they’ve found much more demand for the Idea Exchanges and have since shifted their focus to that alone.
Their Idea Exchange is still modeled off of a futures market, where you can buy and sell ideas. I still would suspect a model like this to be susceptible to gaming and in general becoming a Keynesian beauty contest. (People don’t buy what is worthwhile, they buy what they think others will think is worthwhile.) That said, they’ve what looks to be a mature product that looks fantastic and has been used by a number of Danish companies.
Consensus Point – Some clients of ConsensusPoint use their standard ForesightServer software to run prediction markets on ideas. I’ve mentioned before how prediction markets aren’t suitable for this. To ConsensusPoint’s credit, they aren’t specifically marketing a one-solution-fits-all approach; it’s just what their clients are doing with the software.
NewsFutures Idea Pageant – I really like the quote from NewsFutures on their Idea Pageant page: “A large number of ideas makes a standard prediction market approach impractical.” While I don’t think that’s the only criticism, it’s a good chunk of a start.
The Idea Pageant is a fairly straightforward and easy to understand application. Each person gets a number of positive (green) votes/tokens and a smaller number of negative (red) votes/tokens. These can be refreshed periodically, and the consistently positive ideas float to the top.
Qmarkets – Qmarkets is another prediction markets startup that seems to have also moved into the innovation software arena. There’s a fairly extensive feature list; so much so I’m not sure how to gauge exactly how complex the software actually is. Without screenshots, it’s tough to tell how well developed the solution is, but it’s certainly a potential player in the market.
Xpree – The Xpree Open Innovation Markets seems to be a bit of a hybrid solution. It has a voting system for ideas, but then later management can transfer those ideas into a prediction market. This seems to be a well-thought-out way of approaching the problem. However, I personally believe that a client could shoot themselves in the foot with poor implementation of this software. It’s all too easy to start to turn every idea into a prediction market, and that (again) is a bad plan.
Marketplace solutions (specific innovations sought)
InnoCentive – InnoCentive is one of the most well-known idea marketplaces. They’ve had some good successes so far, and substantial press coverage. I would assume they are trying to quickly ensure they take advantage of network effects and become the primary marketplace for innovators and the companies looking for innovations.
NineSigma – NineSigma is another company in this arena. It’s less a true marketplace than a forum to receive and respond to RFP’s. They do seem to have a decent client list, and have been in business since 2000.
PhilOptima – PhilOptima is a similar innovation marketplace, but is aimed at “grant makers” and thus has a different audience on the innovation seeker side.
Innovation Exchange – This site appears to be a marketplace for innovations in general, without much focus. While that’s great in principle, I think the lack of focus perhaps hurts their chances in getting significant penetration in any market, and thus any substantial market share. I mention this because there will likely be a race for market share amongst these sites, and only the winner will get the ideal network effects.
fellowforce – This is similar to Innovation Exchange, but geared more toward the Web2.0 crowd, with widgets and rankings prominently promoted.
Full-fledged Marketplace solutions (specific innovations sought and sold)
Yet2 – I’m really intrigued by this site. What’s unique is that it offers something both for companies with specific innovation needs (like the category above) but also for entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists with innovations they believe have commercial potential. While the design is a bit harsh visually, it’s a very intriguing concept.
Rite-Solutions – Rite-Solutions became quite well known a couple of years ago based on a well-known article in the New York Times that discussed how they used their software to allow everyone in the company to discuss and promote their ideas internally. It’s become quite a successful product for them (though perhaps not as lucrative as some of their government/gaming industry work!).
BrainBank – BrainBank looks to be a very interesting software solution that promotes both the ranking and refining of ideas, but also some management around implementation. It’s very interesting.
MindMatters – I classified MindMatters software in this category since I couldn’t quite tell what the main purpose of the software actually is. It mentions idea capture, challenges and workflow, but it wasn’t obvious how they all fit together in their particular software application.
There are a multitude of different approaches to innovation, and there are a multitude of different software applications to help companies and organisations innovate. Are there any true market leaders? Not as far as I can tell. Some, like Salesforce, are quite well known, but aren’t necessarily that useful for a wide cross-section of companies.
This post is meant simply to review and discuss different software applications available around innovation. I plan to write much more on how innovation does and can work in organisations. You can find all of my past innovation-related posts here, and future posts will go there, too.
I sincerely look forward to your feedback.
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