Business leaders have been talking about the strategic importance of innovation for years – In 2014 PwC revealed that 43% of leaders consider it a competitive necessity for their business – and more recently McKinsey claimed the figure was as high as 84%. Despite this, few businesses are able to harness it in a way that delivers reliable results. According to Harvard Business Review, 95% of consumer products fail, despite companies investing up to $15 million for each new product and 83% of consumers expressing a willingness to pay more for products that demonstrate innovation.
Behind this lies the fact that many businesses regard innovation as a largely organic process – and as a result are willing to accept variable results. This is a potentially dangerous stance. The truth is that innovation – just like any other part of the business - requires a sound strategy, methodology and effective management to really succeed. What’s more, with effective innovation management in place, the entire business can see a transformation that leads to growth.
Many companies are already waking up to this reality – and according to BusinessWire, the Innovation Management Market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 421.6 Million in 2017 to USD 1,519.2 Million by 2022. In the course of working with our customers, we’ve identified five of the most significant ways Innovation Management contributes to driving this growth.
1. It increases your competitive edge
Effective innovation management helps you gather ideas in a single place and prioritize them effectively against your boardroom goals – which in turn helps you drive the best projects forward and speed-up time to value. We’ve noticed many clients seeing value – whether in terms of service improvement or product competitiveness – by increasing their ability to source great ideas from on-the-ground teams.
2. It engages employees
Innovation management makes it easier to bring every employee into the innovation process in a meaningful way. Rather than innovation isolation, businesses can seek the input and feedback of people across the business using familiar tools like those within the Office 365 suite. Shortlisted ideas can then be taken through a structured business case process to understand impact and ensure capability and value prior to delivery. As well as increasing employee motivation levels, this is an important way to unlock the potential and ideation capability of today’s multi-generational workforce. As David Blair of PTC comments within Microsoft’s‘ Best Practices for Innovation’ paper: “Give people a voice to exchange information, add comments, and refine ideas. How does somebody on the shop floor or a design shop overseas contribute?” 
3. It makes the workplace more collaborative
An important step towards effective innovation management is fostering a culture of ideation. To achieve this, you need to create an environment where people can collaborate and share freely, allowing you to harness the potential of crowdsourcing ideas. Communication is central to this capability – but you don’t need to invest in new and unfamiliar tools that require lengthy rollout and adoption periods. There are a range of tools within the Office 365 suite and SharePoint Online which cater to the differing needs of your multi-generational teams – for example, SharePoint for content and document management and for empowering real-time collaboration at different project stages, and Microsoft Delve for user profile management.
4. It transforms product and service innovation
Innovation management allows you to make rapid enhancements in the product and service areas that count. Combining the communication tools people already use with dedicated innovation management tools can transform the way they work during this phase – replacing emails chains and lengthy time-lags with instant communication through Yammer or Skype for Business which allows people to connect in a visual, hands-on way. Changes can be prioritized, demonstrated and executed faster which makes it easier to meet customer and market demand rapidly - maximising ROI and time to value. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said on his first day in role: “The first thing I want to focus on is ruthlessly remove any obstacles to allow every individual in our organization to innovate. Then focus all of that innovation on what Microsoft can uniquely do.”
5. Using your technology advantage
It’s easy to think of innovation as an obsession with the latest thing – but innovation management encourages the opposite. In fact, it starts with making the best use of the technology you already have. Using existing tools ensures instant adoption, with the added benefit that the data you are using is data that is stored within your own Office 365 tenant ensuring security and ownership of the innovation process. Once you have maximised what you have, you can then augment it with specific tools that provide platform capability and supplement existing processes where needed, such as Power BI, which generates management insights with reports as well as real-time statistics that power ideation performance.
As we have already seen, the innovation management market is growing – and it’s growing for a reason. As Braden Kelley of Business Strategy Innovation says within Microsoft’s‘ Best Practices for Innovation’ white paper: “Industries are being commoditized at a faster rate and you have to look for ways to create more value and set yourself apart. Innovation is one of the few ways to do that because people use the same best practices for operational excellence. The way they innovate and the culture they build are the ways they can differentiate.”
Organizations finally have the opportunity to achieve this – and they are seizing it. For example, in less than three months, Exxaro - a global coal and heavy minerals mining business - has been able to source ideas from 6,000 employees to drive innovation around branding, cultural change, business efficiencies and cost savings, sustainability and employee development – ideas that many other organizations would pay hefty consulting fees for. The benefits of this approach are wide-reaching and cannot be ignored. So, when it comes to embracing innovation management, will you be next?
Transform your approach to innovation with edison365
The edison365 suite leverages Microsoft Office 365 to deliver accelerated business transformation, giving you the freedom you need to crowdsource ideas from employees, and the method to implement them. Combining innovative award-winning ideation, Business Case and Portfolio Management modules, edison365 helps you align innovation and portfolio management to business strategy and turn good ideas into great business solutions that deliver benefits.
Find out more about the author: Ivan Lloyd, Chief Innovation Officer, edison365
 Best Practices for Innovation, Microsoft’s Innovation Management Framework, 2013
 Best Practices for Innovation, Microsoft’s Innovation Management Framework, 201