Monday, March 26, 2012

Product Innovation and Seamless Integration of Ideas


In light of emerging trends in product development organizations are quickly responding to changing market dynamics by adopting new and innovative strategies. One of the most difficult challenges for organizations is managing the ideation process and achieving a seamless transition from the conceptual stages of ideation towards successful implementation and execution.

From an organizational perspective, ideation is the activity and effort centered on what’s often called the “fuzzy front-end” of the new product and service development process. It is during these initial steps that the collective ideas of customers, partners and employees need to be leveraged to develop conceptual frameworks for new products or services. However, idea management is not exclusive to the front-end stage. Indeed, there must be a seamless integration of ideas coming from multiple different sources and channels, at different stages of the product development process.

Unifying the FEI and the BEI


There is a vital need for a seamless integration of businesses processes. This means information generated in one stage of the product development process must flow through to the next without the risk of error or the possibility of accidental loss or misclassification.

There are several business benefits associated with seamless integration:

Full traceability and visibility of activities throughout the development process
Accelerated business processes, and faster time to market
Continuous alignment of product feedback with marketplace demands
Improved stakeholder cohesion and more opportunities for collaboration
Streamlined business activities with more clearly defined goals

Design elements

A well-structured ideation process will shed light on the often unclear front end innovation—the generation and capturing of new ideas— and will enable proper execution on the back-end—the actual production and delivery of the ideas turned into viable profitable products and services. It also enables constant alignment with changing market needs. Finally, this process must be strategic from beginning to end, with a focus on seamlessly integrating ideas throughout the developmental stages.
Here are some key elements to consider when designing your ideation process:

    1.   Do an assessment by asking yourself these questions:
Are we able to make decisions based on product data related to our innovation strategy?
What are the sources of ideas? What channels do we use? What happens to ideas once they have been identified?
Are the ideas initially generated in earlier stages reflected in our longer-term product roadmap?

2. Analyze the front-end activities that need to be seamlessly integrated into the process:
Listening for ideas across various channels such as organizational portals, email, feedback forums, help desk, social media sites, etc.
Engaging in two-way dialogue to elaborate on, and clarify product related ideas
Determining which ideas align best with organizational goals and strategies through voting, and priority ratings.

     3. Analyze the back-end related activities that need to be seamlessly integrated into the process:

Turning ideas into actionable product requirements
Analyze ideas and product requirements based on real-word data
Providing all involved stakeholders with increased visibility and traceability throughout the process.

Seamless integration improves communication and breaks down the silos

Organizations that seek ideas of external and internal stakeholders greatly benefit from fresh and innovative perspectives. Often times, ideas can be discovered through conversations and brainstorming sessions, involving many diverse stakeholders. Facilitating communication between teams working at the BEI and FEI levels and sharing information between customers, business partners, and employees improves the innovation management, and increases the success of strategy execution. Through seamless integration, visibility and participation of key players in the innovation process is increased and ideas can easily be shaped into actionable, product-driven data.

About the Author:
Catherine Constantinides is a writer and product marketer who works at OneDesk provider of The Unified Product Platform - A suite of fully integrated social product development applications. 


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