How Daimler Accelerates Ideas with Collaboration and Funding

“Daimler Ideate” is a collaboration platform that aims to involve Daimler employees throughout the world, regardless of internal silos, in innovation projects. On this platform, ideas for new products and technologies are generated and further developed. To this day, more than 33.000 users from various business units are registered. Starting with the collection and elaboration of ideas, until the funding and construction of first prototypes, all activities are carried out via a central innosabi platform.

Time for us to ask about the experiences made and the value added so far. To seek answers to these and many more questions, innosabi CEO Catharina van Delden recently talked to Frieder Munk, Corporate Strategy Manager from Daimler AG’s DigitalLife Team:

How do you describe the innosabi platform to your colleagues?

With our Crowd Ideation Platform at Daimler, we give all colleagues the opportunity to actively participate in the innovation process. Important principles for the platform are collaboration, transparency and motivation. On the platform, ideation contests can be carried out in the form of so-called challenges. This takes place in several predefined phases, which work towards an initially defined objective. During this process, the ideas are further developed and improved by impulses, comments and suggestions by the crowd, i.e. Daimler employees.

I describe an intuitively-to-use software for the interested departments, which is also very easily accessible via single-sign-on or mobile phone.

We currently use the platform exclusively internally; The goal is, however, to use it externally too, in order to carry out ideation projects with customers, suppliers or university partners. The most important features are the transparency along the entire process and the collaboration in the community.

What is the role of funding on the Daimler Ideate platform?

In a funded project, teams can submit ideas in video form. Daimler employees can then finance these ideas with a virtual budget. Project initiators can determine whether a funding goal must be achieved or not. The most successful teams are then given real resources to implement their ideas. Depending on the idea, it’s possible to take advantage of the Daimler Incubator program to validate the approach or to develop a minimum viable product. Through the funding, we see a high motivation for implementation by the applicants – because of the support of all the employees involved in the funding process, a high visibility of the projects naturally arises. Additionally, the funding helps to ensure a fast and accurate prioritization of innovation projects according to the accumulated knowledge and experience of many Daimler employees.

The teams of the individual business units configure their homepages and challenges on the platform in self-government. These do not necessarily have to include a funding. Depending on the individual requirements of the projects, certain phases – such as ideation, voting, or even funding – are included in the process and others are left out.

In the bigger picture, we see that the funding projects seem to be very successful: Since the start in May 2017, we see a large number of prospects for our challenges with funding on the platform.

What makes a Innovation Challenge successful in your eyes?

Primarily, we measure success by reach and participation. We therefore check the percentage of invited people who actually registered on the platform. India was the most extreme, but at the same time the best example. An incredible 95 percent of the workforce at the Bangalore site registered, voted and collaborated on the platform. This value is, of course, phenomenal and incomparable. In Germany, we have more than 20,000 users signed in on the platform. Since participation is, of course, also dependent on the respective country culture, this too is a success for us. Now, in the next step, we are trying to further expand our user base and to integrate the existing community even more strongly in the entire innovation processes.

To measure the success of the entire platform, we are not only guided by the figures of the number of new challenges on the platform. Since they constantly involve and motivate our employees, there is also a change in the overall innovation culture. The more departments start competitions, the more multi-disciplinary collaboration takes place – for us, this is the most important success factor.

How would you generally describe the benefits of the innosabi platform?

Before we used innosabi software, we have been running ideation projects through different channels, such as conventional workshops or in specialized committees of the individual divisions. This was not very transparent, only appointed experts and managers could participate. Now we are online instead of offline, everyone can see the ideas and help shape them. This gives us a much greater reach than in a workshop. In addition, we interact immediately with the relevant groups of people and activate a huge pool of available knowledge and experience.

I can reach an enormous number of people and actively integrate them into the value creation process. Thus, we are not only talking about cultural change, but realizing it daily in various situations. I am particularly pleased with the fact that individual projects that started as small ideas do now go into operational implementation. After the ideation phase, we accompany promising ideas and control the necessary implementation steps – depending on the requirements, the close cooperation with our Acceleration and Incubation programs are possible. In general, however, we are not yet at the end of this exciting journey – based on feedback from our users at Daimler locations worldwide, we are continuing to develop the platform together with innosabi. We look forward to the next steps and many successfully implemented innovations!

innosabi platform at daimler

Figure 2: Source: 
Digital Life Day