Digital Idea Management


It Is Time for a New, Digital Approach

It’s not always about reinventing the wheel. There is considerable potential for companies in improving existing products and processes or in transferring existing skills to new areas. Employees often know best where to optimize things or where to find the weaknesses of products. For several years companies used traditional idea management to be able to evaluate and implement these suggestions of the workforce in a structured way. But how can this approach be transferred to the 21st century and made fit for the demands of digitization?

In general employees today expect opportunities to collaborate and transparency along the entire process. Whereas the companies are increasingly under pressure to innovate and, above all, are keen to accelerate the realization of promising ideas. On this page, we show you how to master the change successfully and with which tools you not only digitally map your idea management, but also make it the central contact point for employee ideas of all kinds – from simple suggestions for improvement to ideas for entirely new business areas.


Executive Summary: The Essentials at a Glance

  • Continuous development is a central aspect of all companies in the market. By improving your products and services as well as anticipating innovations, you secure your position and existence.
  • The knowledge for those improvements lies with the employees. They are familiar with the products as well as the internal processes.
  • Digitization of idea management allows for greater transparency and speed throughout the entire process, from submission to evaluation to awarding.
  • Fast and transparent processes improve the perception of idea management and the motivation of employees to participate increases.
  • The collaboration through an open discussion on submitted proposals enhances the quality of the ideas and leads to even more efficient improvements.
  • A holistic approach regarding idea and innovation management results in employee suggestions that are not just about improving existing structures, but also about completely new ones – be it products, services or business models.
  • Regardless of the method used, the right digital tool is essential in addition to the corporate culture.


What Does Digital Idea Management Mean

The core of classical idea management – consisting of submission, evaluation, awarding, and implementation – remains intact even in digital times. Instead, the significant changes are reflected in the new opportunities for employees and assessors. At every point in the process, they benefit from software-based functionalities that run in the background and support the mapping of much more complex structures or valuation models. Moving to a digital platform also makes idea management scalable. This means that more employees and more ideas can be processed at the same time and effort. The evolutionary step into the digital is thus primarily aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of the submitted ideas.

Process Visualization Idea Management

The new guiding principle in idea management is based on the requirement not to artificially limit the type of ideas by specifications but to promote each submission by the employees. This new freedom is the starting point for initiatives that do not fit the usual logic. For example, time-limited campaigns with targeted questions for a particular problem are possible. In its function, idea management gets increasingly similar to innovation management and, like the latter, relies on more employee participation and transparency in the evaluation and implementation of ideas. The statement that the innovative power of a company lies with its employees is finally taken into account and has practical application in the idea management of companies using relevant tools.


Collaboration and Campaigns in Idea Management

Idea management no longer has to be a closed system whose processes are limited to the interaction between the idea generator and the reviewer. The world around us is becoming increasingly networked, and digital communication technologies are making the collaboration of many individuals on a joint project easier. So why not use these benefits in idea management? Thus, submitted ideas no longer need to be formulated in detail from the beginning. Collaboration within the community on the platform makes it possible to discuss the proposals and to develop them further in the process before an expert evaluates them. Where there used to be pre-defined criteria defining the progress of proposals, today the community acts as a sort of filter to separate good and bad ideas early on. As a result, the good ideas have more time and space to develop their potential and in addition, benefit from the expertise of other employees, who now can be integrated in large numbers.

This collaboration within the community is particularly effective, especially if everyone involved is clear on which goal they are working towards. However, the traditional idea management operates entirely open-ended and is continuously in danger of becoming an undifferentiated channel for ideas that do not coincide with the company’s goals. So, it makes sense to not only wait for the suggestions of the employees but to initiate targeted campaigns, which start exactly where there is an acute need for problem-solving and innovation. In contrast to the traditional method, campaigns deal with a specific task set by the company. They are limited in time and in many cases are aimed at a particular target group. This makes the campaigns a powerful tool that efficiently bundles all resources and competencies in idea management, aligns them to one goal and ultimately generates high-quality solutions.


Increase the Quantity and Quality of Ideas

Whether idea management is successful or not is mostly determined by the number of proposals submitted and the financial or material benefits of ideas already implemented. In general, most initiatives have a positive track record and give idea management in companies their justification. Nevertheless, there are challenges that quickly can lead to the failure of traditional idea management. The focus here is on the motivation of the employees. If you set the wrong incentives as a company, the employees lose the interest to get involved – especially if the appreciation and the premiums do not meet the expectations.

On the other hand, overloaded bonus systems could mean that over time every matter-of-factness is sold as an idea. This often ends in a colossal idea backlog, because the reviewers can no longer keep up with processing and evaluating many, small ideas. This leads to long waiting periods and uncertainties, which in turn reduces the motivation to submit a proposal at all.

| Motivate employees to submit through good usability
| Improve the quality of proposals through collaboration
| Collect targeted solutions with campaigns
| Convince through transparency in the process

Smart and digital idea management is, therefore characterized by processes and functions that counteract these developments. To increase the quality of the proposals, exchange within and between the departments has to be stimulated. That way, all employees can collaborate using the platform to discuss, network, or build teams to come up with an idea together. Experts and coaches for specialized departments can support the employees with their expertise or even give, through campaigns, specific instructions on how the proposed solutions should look like. Additionally, the software itself has significant influence. Intelligent features, for example, allow automated comparison with existing ideas in the database. Thus, the platform is not just a submission channel, but also enables employees without own ideas to get involved in existing projects or to get an overview of the company’s current innovation initiatives. Even more important, however, is the user-friendliness. The lower the hurdles of participation and the more transparent the current status of the ideas, the more people will find themselves taking on responsibility for their ideas and driving them to implementation.


Idea Management? Innovation Management? Both.

In the corporate context, there are two ways of managing ideas – idea management and innovation management. Sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably, although they are quite different despite some similarities. When it comes to idea management, the type and content of the proposals are entirely open. These are mostly concepts for internal process or product improvements that are already well developed and can be implemented immediately. Innovation Management, on the other hand, describes all measures aimed at increasing the innovative strength of a company. This includes the development of new products, services or business models. Here, the ideas are not ready-made solutions but must be gradually refined and elaborated.

Ideenmanagement und Innovationsmanagement gehen Hand in Hand

However, this definitional separation does not play a significant role for the employees. In the brainstorming phase, the focus is on the creative process rather than on whether it is an improvement or an innovation. For the employees, there is no clear separation, and that makes sense because the transitions are in fact fluid. Modern idea management and innovation management complement each other and are mutually dependent. Ideally, there is a single point of contact for all proposals, followed by the various initiatives. The employee enters his idea into the system and, depending on the type, content and degree of maturity, is then led by the software towards the relevant measure. This way, efficiency losses can be intelligently avoided, but a holistic approach with the appropriate tools is required that brings idea management and innovation management together on one platform.


Best Practice: How Our Customers Are Successful

A big goal in idea management is to increase the quantity and quality of the ideas in order to make constant improvement of the company possible. But where is the biggest lever for making existing idea management even more effective? In our experience, the most important thing is to make it as easy as possible for employees to get involved. That’s why the innosabi software is based on a well-founded usability concept. This allows for a high degree of transparency for the employees as well as for quick, simplified processing of submitted proposals by the reviewers.

Our best practice for digital and smart idea management also demonstrates this: Munich Airport was able to increase employee participation and motivation with a digital ideas tool. The ability to collaborate and discuss on the platform also enhanced the quality of the ideas.


The Right Software for Digital Idea Management

The requirements for smart and digital idea management are as extensive as they are demanding. Of course, above all, it should be faster and more efficient than the old system. Likewise, one expects an increase in the quantity and quality of submitted ideas. However, not all software solutions are suitable for making processes so transparent and intuitive that employees are permanently motivated to submit their suggestions. The target-oriented advancement of ideas for specific corporate goals through campaigns and enhanced collaboration can only be implemented with the right technology. Therefore, the subsequent criteria should strictly be followed when choosing software.

| Opportunities to collaborate in idea generation and evaluation
| Transparent tracking of ideas along the process and during implementation
| Campaigns with multiple phases for goal-oriented idea generation
| Customizable evaluation processes and criteria for different topics
| Semantic analysis of ideas and comparison with similar content in the database
| Gamification elements for more employee motivation


Where and How Should You Start?

With many new approaches and opportunities in idea management, you ultimately face the big question: Where and how should one start? The answer depends very much on the framework conditions, goals and previous experiences of each company. A brief inventory of individual factors can help identify the optimal strategy.

| Where is room for improvement: Number of ideas, quality of ideas or their implementation?
| Which business units have come up with ideas so far?
| Which units are hardly involved yet?
| So far, are there any opportunities for employees to submitted ideas besides the reviewer process?
| Can evaluation processes and criteria be adapted flexibly?

The answers to these questions provide clues as to which methods and cases for a digital and smart idea management have the greatest potential for your company. Our experts are happy to help and show you how to use our software to achieve your goals.


Do you want to learn more about the possibilities and practical applications of the innosabi software? Just use the contact form below and one of our experts will contact you shortly.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!


Do you want to learn more about the possibilities and practical applications of the innosabi software? Just use the contact form below and one of our experts will contact you shortly.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!