Innovation isn't just about having a good
idea and talking about it. It's about putting that idea into practice to create
meaningful results. Nor is it just about creating new products. It has more to
do with changing the way a business is run. First and foremost, innovation is
about doing things better. When broken down, innovation can be seen as having
two parts: creativity and implementation. In order to innovate, you need to
start with an idea, which is where creativity is key. Unfortunately, although
for many companies innovation is a core value, the idea remains little more than
lip service if it is not acted on. Innovation can only be said to have happened
once an idea has been successfully implemented, says Roy Hobson, Business
Development Manager at Intervate.
The front-end of innovation remains as the
creative element, and it's this initial phase that requires nurturing,
particularly when the idea is exposed to large groups of people within an
organisation. If businesses are proactive in this space, these ideas multiply
and grow organically. However, for innovation to be effectively harnessed, ideas
need to be captured, shared and developed. Various tools or platforms can be
used to achieve this, but at Intervate, we have designed the mechanics using
Microsoft's SharePoint, a Web-based software platform ideally suited to the
task. It allows ideas to not only be shared, but moreover, provides them with an
environment to be considered and developed socially, not unlike idea sharing on
Facebook or Twitter, but with a corporate slant.
The back-end of innovation consists of the
implementation processes that have to be followed to take these ideas from the
drawing board out into the world. Through this bespoke SharePoint-based design,
a business can take an idea through the development and actualisation process,
tracking and measuring its progress along the way.
Through all stages of innovation, there are
"stage gates", and an idea in its development phase needs to pass through these
to be successfully workable. It is this filtering process that helps determine
whether an idea deserves pursuing, and if so, the software streamlines the
process of implementation. The benefit of this gated approach is that ideas are
refined through a structured funnelling system until only the valuable and
feasible ones remain, saving time and energy in the process and ensuring that
resources are only directed at the very best ideas.
Innovation using SharePoint is a set of
techniques, not a product. Intervate has taken the invaluable foundation
SharePoint offers, and in its architecture, manipulated the program in such a
way that it allows users to drive and manage innovation, a process at which
Intervate excels, which is why innovation and the nurturing thereof is one of
the core company values.
With the front-end of the process powered by
SharePoint, it's accessible to everyone in an organisation. The result is a
shared "ideas box" that can benefit from input across the company. People are
able to build on and stimulate other people's ideas in addition to contributing
their own. As an incentive to drive the ideas engine, some companies build in an
innovation reward system.
Intervate has seen the success of this approach
both internally and with a wide range of clients, including those in the mining,
hospitality and banking sectors. Businesses are increasingly coming to recognise
that innovation is the last remaining growth vector; particularly those
operating in mature industries and markets.
Often, breakthrough solutions come from within
because it is the existing personnel who best understand a business. They are
the richest resource in terms of their ability to identify problems and be
inventive about potential solutions. Eskom, for example, has an internal
innovation channel with innovation champions throughout the business who run the
programme on an incentive scheme basis.
Innovation has become a key performance
criterion for many companies, and for staff, key performance areas. Companies
want to be able to measure innovation and make its outcomes trackable. Intervate
can help by taking a manual innovation system and making it digital, more
effective and efficient, and thus enabling a business to forge ahead of its