A good example of this is the Toshiba Group, which does open innovation instead of developing their products in-house.
Years ago, they announced their open innovation strategy in a whole range of fields of innovation, ranging from energy efficiency, street lighting, document management, to home care for the elderly.
According to Philippe Delahaye, President of Toshiba Systèmes France and Toshiba TEC France Imaging Systems:
“Progress belongs to everybody – and so should the innovation that drives it. Bringing together all the players in innovation of this kind calls for a global firm with tried and tested experience in major projects for cities, homes, and offices. Toshiba is proud to be playing such a role.”
The message in this is that there are rather parties that already invented what your organization needs, so why reinvent the wheel?
What does open innovation mean?
The words “open innovation” first came around when Henry Chesbrough, an American organizational theorist, wrote a book about it titled “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology”.
“The use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.”
Open innovation hinges strongly on the belief that there are others out there, outside of the innovation team, who can contribute ideas, solutions, and information, that will help your organization achieve your innovation and business goals.
There are two types of open innovation:
Internal open innovation
External open innovation
Internal open innovation is where you involve all your employees throughout the organization, across different countries where you have offices.
Doing so will help enable you to create communities and innovation culture for your firm and get expert insights from the people who interact with your products and services on a daily basis.
External open innovation is when you pose a challenge to the outside world, which clearly contains more brainpower than your collective firm. Though this source is specialized, it is not aimed at your firm specifically (yet).
The magic here is that other sectors will look at the question from a different point of view than what you have.
For instance, maybe you do not need to compose a new algorithm and all you need is to actually reconfigure an existing one. So instead of going out to find solutions, you post the challenge and see what comes up.
Whether it is internal or external open innovation, there are aspects you need to consider for open innovation to become successful. One of them is by using a good open innovation platform.
What is an open innovation platform?
An open innovation platform is a tool that will support your open innovation process. Since many innovation activities take place on these platforms, most of these platforms also work as idea management solutions and innovation software.
On the other hand, it is fair to say that open innovation platforms cover solutions that can help facilitate the innovation process. Some even function as tools that will enable you to find contributors, suppliers, and contractors.
But for this article, we will stick with open innovation platforms that can help with most activities related to innovation, like gathering and selecting ideas, managing projects and portfolios, and others.
How do these platforms help with innovation?
Setting up the challenge may be as simple as posting a question to a specific community or sending a message to a group of people. Either way, some open innovation platforms will be able to help you with this and establish a channel of communication with contributors.
Some organizations approach open innovation in a form of a challenge where people join together to solve a problem or pitch in ideas around a specific theme. Some may also go with the crowdsourcing route where incentivizing people is the norm to come up with solutions.
A good example of this is Accept Mission’s undercover mode feature where you can practically ask the crowd without limits and they can pitch in their ideas “undercover” without fearing the embarrassment of having their ideas ridiculed.
But in summary, good open innovation platforms help with the following:
Setting up the challenge
Launching the innovation project
Adding more innovative ideas
Scoring and validating the ideas
Communicating with contributors
When choosing the right open innovation platform for your organization, first consider all the tasks that you want to do in your open innovation process. Then, start looking for a platform that will help you do as many of those tasks as possible without having to jump to another tool.
Examples of Open Innovation Platforms
If you are in the market for an open innovation platform, here are a few examples that will help you get started:
1. Accept Mission
Accept Mission is one of the most complete innovation platforms out there. The name came from the popular “gamification” feature of the platform for generating new ideas. Innovation campaigns are called “missions”, hence the name.
As hinted earlier, Accept Mission has advanced gamification features useful for ideation, brainstorming, and open innovation. In a lot of ways, the platform makes the experience fun and engaging like a game.
Aside from enabling contributors to go undercover, the platform can also increase the engagement and creativity levels as teams and contributors gain experiences, receive awards, and other game-like elements.
When it comes to internal open innovation, Accept Mission is a good platform to use. You can invite agents, who belong to your organization, to an ideation campaign simply by a link, their names, or their email addresses.
If you want to know more about how the platform may be able to help you, check out the different use cases of Accept Mission.
Wazoku is a collaborative idea management software that helps organizations engage and collaborate with their own workforce and others in order to generate new ideas as part of their innovation strategy.
Open innovation is part of Wazoku’s products and services. In fact, you can use it to reach a global audience by starting a sponsor grand challenge, a type of activity that has no limits on participation, and tap into unique skill sets.
Anyone can join by simply using social logins with platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This is definitely a low barrier to entry, which can definitely encourage participation from broad communities around the world.
You can also run competitions, whether internal or external, that will help drive engagement from networks. Or start a hackathon with a challenge to solve a particular problem. If you like, you can also run your own annual competition.
The good thing is that Wazoku has templates that will help you simplify the process of running competitions and challenges. That way, you can quickly launch your own competitions without placing a heavy burden on your own team.
Qmarkets is an idea management and innovation management software designed with enterprise-grade companies in mind. They help large organizations tackle a variety of strategic business challenges in different fields of innovation.
With their Q-open software, you can easily launch open innovation challenges and use the knowledge of external expert communities and professionals to help with your strategic challenges.
Like Wazoku, you can also use Q-open to invite external collaborators made up of specialists, entrepreneurs, and other professionals, to participate in a time-sensitive hackathon to help deliver quick solutions for specific problems.
With their software, you can immediately create an engaging open innovation portal that is available on any device. This can be integrated with different social media challenges that will help request ideas related to your business challenges.
When it comes to access and transparency, you can choose who can see the ideas submitted, whether that will be a collaborative open space where everyone can see other’s ideas or a closed challenge where external collaborators can only submit ideas.
Use an Open Innovation Platform
Open innovation is a great method that will enable you to put more minds into solving a particular problem or challenge. It helps you gain more information that can help you solve your business goals.
As for the benefits of open innovation, Henry Chesbrough wrote:
“For business, open innovation is a more profitable way to innovate, because it can reduce costs, accelerate time to market, increase differentiation in the market, and create new revenue streams for the company.”
Fortunately, there are open innovation platforms that help facilitate this process and make it easier for you to actually manage the operation. Imagine if you would run a challenge with thousands of participants without a platform to manage all of the submitted ideas.
If you want to get started, the three platforms mentioned earlier — Accept Mission, Wazoku, and Qmarkets — can definitely help. On the other hand, note that there are plenty more out there that you can try in case the features you need are not with those mentioned here.
Next steps: Accept Mission is a good place to start, which is why it is on top of the list. If your objective is to start an internal open innovation with your whole organization, it definitely has the best features that you will need.