2015 CFO Sentiment Study – Growing Importance of Innovation to CFO’s

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 5:04 PM, March 02, 2015


CFO-Innovation


Each year the CFO Alliance conducts a CFO Sentiment Study, providing exclusive insight and measurable statistics that are critical to the strategic planning and financial outlook of CFO’s across the United States.

The best practices and statistics shared in this study will help companies identify challenges and ways to move forward and innovate in 2015.

The CFO Alliance is comprised of senior financial leaders and decision makers, spanning a wide range of industry groups, company sizes, and geographies. The survey data comes from more than 600 responses solicited from financial leaders in private industries and also public and non-profit sectors.

The results of the study speak to positive expectations for the US economy in 2015, and specific business industries. Other revelations include:

  • Projected spending increases to keep pace with technological advancements and innovation trends, more specifically increases will be seen in employee wages and benefits, data security and cloud computing, social media marketing, and primarily in hardware and software purchases.
  • In addition to spending, 95% of those surveyed agreed that organizations must encourage communication and create a culture of innovation moving forward to successfully achieve objectives.
  • Collaboration between the CFO and marketing will be essential, as 61.5% said their marketing initiatives will be the number one factor impacting their company’s success in 2015.
  • The leadership role of the CFO is changing too, with the value of being “social” taking precedence and projected to have positive implications this year. Along with this new “social” role CFOs should pay close attention to the importance of customer engagement and human capital optimization goals as well.

The role of the CFO is continually broadening to accommodate emerging growth initiatives and deliver impactful results that are critical to all aspects of business operations. And CFOs are playing a greater role in determining corporate direction, strategies, and ultimately creating long-term shareholder value.

Are there any stats in the study that surprise you? We’re guessing there are a few! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the study in the comments.

And feel free to enjoy our analyst webinar on Unleash Innovation – Put Your Community to Work which discussed more innovation trends and ways to help create a culture of innovation.

Get ‘Inno-spired’ by Our Forrester ‘Innovation Trends to Watch’ Webinar

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 5:55 PM, February 17, 2015


ForresterGenius may be “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” according to Thomas Edison, but that one percent can be the difference between taking action now and waiting. And when it comes to innovation these days, waiting is the wrong move – because it gives your competitors that much more time to disrupt the space and send you reeling.

Successful enterprises have always known they need to continuously reinvent themselves to meet the demands of new generations of customers, but it’s even more important now as the manufacturing, distribution, and information ages have given way to the current Age of the Customer. Keeping up with trends and expectations is no easy task, and innovation must be a constant goal.

To keep the inspiration happening we recently hosted a webinar on Innovation Trends to Watch and Inspire You featuring Chip Gliedman, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Gliedman’s IT background helps him serve CIOs using research focused on “IT investment strategies, innovation, justifying technology investments, business technology alignment, and IT satisfaction. He is a frequent speaker on innovation for Forrester.

On our webinar he shared innovation trends in a way that will inspire you to act. Here’s just some of what he shared:

  • How to explore current innovation trends and decide on actions
  • How to exploit market opportunities to create business value
  • How to maximize profits by perfecting innovation processes
  • The questions to ask for specific innovation goals, whether product, process, organizational and market
  • How to use sustained innovation to avoid disruption
  • Common barriers to innovation
  • What skills to sharpen for innovation success
  • Benefits of open or “collaborative” innovation
  • Tips for getting started with your innovation program and for stepping up your game

And getting started is important! In fact 41% who attended the webinar shared that they are “struggling to get their innovation program ramped”. You can always tweak your innovation process down the road, but once you take those first steps it will become easier and easier to keep walking – and eventually run. Brightidea has a methodology we would welcome sharing with you to help get your innovation program up and running if you CONTACT US.

Or take the first step by watching the webinar here: Innovation Trends to Watch and Inspire You.

It's Time to Start a Collaborative Innovation Program - Tell Your Boss!

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 10:07 AM, February 11, 2015


Innovation is the driving force behind growth and progress in any industry, and the core of any long-term business strategy. While companies do many different things to stimulate innovation, crowdsourcing has the highest leverage among small teams. Crowdsourcing and Collaborative Innovation lets leaders harness the creative capacity of employees, get quick wins, scale impact and have measurable outcomes. With market competition at an all-time high, maximizing impact from your Collaborative Innovation program is mission critical.

Why is it so important to always be innovating? If you don’t do it, someone else will, and you’ll find yourself in an unenviable position - like Kodak.

Kodak used to kill it – till it died. Kodak dominated the photographic film industry from its inception in 1888 all the way through the 1980’s. As digital photographic technologies emerged in the 1990’s, many of which were developed by Kodak itself, the company was painstakingly slow to incorporate these new developments in its products and get them to market. It soon found itself eclipsed by other digital camera and imaging companies, many of which were even using Kodak patents. By 2007, Kodak was no longer turning a profit. It struggled until 2012, when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Don’t let this happen to your company.

Even the most established businesses are at risk of disruption. Dedicated Collaborative Innovation programs save the day.

Now you can convince your boss it’s time to start your own Collaborative Innovation Program. Download our new paper to explore:
1. Collaborative Innovation is Proven, Predictable and Repeatable
2. Innovation is Scalable
3. Ad Hoc Efforts Aren’t Successful
4. Your Competition Is Doing It
5. Employee Productivity and Resource Management are Enhanced
6. Employees are Inspired
7. Disrupts the Status Quo
8. Continuous Improvement IS Innovation
9. Implementation is Easy and Success Will Happen

Download the full whitepaper here: It's Time to Start a Collaborative Innovation Program - Tell Your Boss!

BrightWorks Platform Powering 2015 Rathmann Innovation Challenge

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 10:20 AM, January 27, 2015


Rathmann-challenge

Brightidea's BrightWorks Platform Powering 2015 Rathmann Innovation Challenge

What is the point of innovation? Simply to break new ground because we can? Some might argue that’s as good a goal as any, but innovation is probably best applied to improving the human condition – at least, that’s the point of the Rathmann Challenge, which aims to inspire innovators to change the world by rewarding big ideas.

So it made sense for Rathmann to partner with Brightidea and use our innovation platform, BrightWorks, to harness these ideas - because our mission goes beyond providing solutions for companies and organizations seeking a more efficient innovation process. We, too, seek to help advance people-powered ideas that will make the world a better place.

Our collaborative software, in conjunction with next generation architecture, will streamline the lengthy and multi-step application review process, allowing the greatest time and attention to be focused where it belongs: on the ideas submitted by innovative applicants.

About the Challenge

The chief project of the Rathmann Innovation Center, the Rathmann Challenge awards up to $300,000 to one winning organization - $100,000 for a past outstanding idea, and with it the possibility of $200,000 to pursue an Even Bigger Idea – all within an annually rotating theme (science, technology, arts, education, environment, health, human services, public affairs and international aid).

This year’s Rathmann Challenge asks applicants to focus on “Provisions for Personal Necessities in Preparation for Learning.” The goal is to “assist educators in addressing issues which interfere with PreK – 12 students’ ability to be fully present in the classroom.”

These needs include obvious items like classroom supplies, but also less obvious (but equally crucial) basic personal necessities like food, clothing and shelter, as well as health- and legal-related needs – the absence of which can put debilitating stress on students.

U.S.-based, legally-formed organizations are eligible to submit an application outlining past work, including an Even Bigger Idea aimed at improving the ability of students to be fully present in the classroom.

Each year one grant of $100,000 will be awarded based on past accomplishments, with a potential additional $200,000 to bring an Even Bigger Idea to fruition over the following two years. This Even Bigger Idea can be something new (still within the above-mentioned theme), or build upon past ideas that fit the theme’s criteria.

The application process is open from January 5, 2015 through February 12, 2015, or until 200 applications are received.

As the Rathmann Challenge awards past accomplishments, innovators should take note that next year’s challenge will be focused on “Environment – Managing and Harnessing the Data.” Get to work now on creating next year’s “past” in the present, as well as applying to this year’s challenge as part of the Rathmann Innovation Center’s effort to make great ideas a reality. You never know – the next Even Bigger Idea could be your own!

Call It Hackathon Or App Jam – Either Way, Your Business Wants In

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 10:52 AM, January 21, 2015


TimetoThink-small

Some day, someone may come up with a way to get more than 24 hours out of a day. Until then, we have the next best way to squeeze the most innovation out of a day - Hackathons!

A hackathon (or, more recently known as an “App Jam”) is simply a period of time during which a group of employees, or all of your employees, brainstorm new ideas and projects for your company to focus on over the next quarter, year, etc.

It isn’t just brainstorming though – it’s harnessing risk-tasking, idea-making, status-quo breaking energy. And if your business hasn’t had one, you really need to start planning one soon. Here’s why:

Why companies use hackathons

Remember in grade school when your teacher would suddenly move all the desks around and you’d be sitting in a new seat in a new part of the room? And it made things more fun for a little while? Or when your company moved offices or maybe you relocated - and for weeks, if not longer, everything seemed new and exciting again? Shaking up the status quo gets people’s juices flowing, releasing blocks they didn’t even know were there. And that’s exactly what a hackathon does. It flings open the doors of the imagination, flooding it with fresh air and possibilities. What company wouldn’t want to invite that energy?

Why hackathons are so successful

Why do so many companies have game rooms in their offices these days? Because the best ideas – the best work, oftentimes – comes when people aren’t focused on work.How many times have you tried to force a memory, for example, only to find it coming to you when you weren’t trying to remember it? When people are pulled out of their routines, structure and stress, magic happens. Hackathons provide that outlet.

Regular work is put on hold during a hackathon, so it feels like you’re playing “hooky”, and for however long the hackathon lasts, all employees participating have carte blanche to create and explore and offer up whatever ideas come to them. They get to feel part of something bigger than the narrow confines their day-to-day position might allow, take risks, and collaborate with people they might never otherwise work with.

It’s crowdsourcing at its best – especially when you combine forces across departments and functions – and you can even involve customers or clients. Throwing in a competitive aspect and prize for the best idea doesn’t hurt either.

Why they’re crucial to innovation

If it isn’t already obvious, hackathons are all ABOUT innovation. Even when you already have an innovation program in place and you’re checking in regularly with key players, sourcing and testing ideas, it can be easy for all of that to become part of the routine too. Or to be blown off in favor of more pressing projects. Because hackathons are a limited-time event, they can easily fill the requirement of any innovation activity pushed to the back burner, and the excitement built around them means that everyone will be pumped and ready to give their very best for the duration.

When you put a group of talented, excited people together they can’t help but come up with something great, so take advantage of your workforce, schedule a hackathon, and look forward to creating that next big thing – or a reinvigorating set of ideas that will (at the least) put your team on the right path.

Have you held a hackathon before or are you planning one? Share your successes and challenges with us in the comments. And check out our new presentation on SlideShare “Why Organize A Hackathon”.

Autoliv's Evolving Innovation Program with Director Greg Thompson

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:35 AM, January 16, 2015


Often a presenter at annual Birds of a Feather events, Autoliv Director of Corporate Engineering Greg Thompson took a back seat this year to listen and learn from other innovation program leaders. "I'm not speaking and I'm trying very hard not to ask questions. I'm trying very much to take a passive role to see what everybody else is talking about." For Greg, it was informative to hear about everyone else's innovation journey, challenges, questions, thoughts and insights within the industry this year. While each company, its products and locations are very different, Greg finds that the challenges faced among innovation program leaders is the same, and an event like Birds of a Feather enables these leaders to work together as a community to solve key issues.

Autoliv's innovation program has grown quite significantly over the past several year, and Greg shares insights from their journey as well as initiatives that his team is running today.

While Autoliv's innovation platform and usage of Brightidea's technology has mainly stayed the same, they've introduced new use cases to their program. Specifically, in addition to running time-boxed innovation Challenges focused on a specific topic, they've started running a continuously open Challenge in one of their three main corporate regions spanning the US, Europe and Asia.

Additionally, Autoliv is expanding their innovation program internationally through localization, specifically for their office in China. By designing an innovation Challenge for the teams in China, Autoliv was able to capture their market needs. Autoliv continues to experiment with their program to explore new ways to innovate internally.

As the 2014 Birds of a Feather event was held at Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit, where Greg also resides, he highlighted the progress and impact in the city. Greg believes that the city's capable, intelligent people will further drive growth and innovation in Detroit.

Stay tuned to the Brightidea blog for more insights from Birds of a Feather 2014

Innovation Programs: How Great Ideas Become Reality

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 8:45 AM, January 15, 2015


Innovationwwall

Ever heard the expression, “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing?” When a company declares itself devoted to innovation, without actually having a plan in place to track and implement ideas, that’s an example of the expression in action.

Turning great ideas into reality is a must for all businesses, and you can’t afford to rely on luck. Careful planning, i.e., an innovation program, focuses your efforts and improves your chance of success. And if you’re not systematically capturing them, you’re likely spinning your wheels and losing out on lots of great ideas.

Here are three reasons why an innovation program is essential:

1. Harness great ideas and keep them moving forward

Like any endeavor, innovation requires goals and an action plan for meeting them. Hoping bursts of inspiration will simply come to your team in a flash of insight, and manifest within moments of the thought landing in your head, is like wishing for a fairy godmother to get you to the ball. Could it happen? Maybe. But which option seems like a better plan: sitting around waiting for inspiration, or making it happen by constantly cultivating ideas? Yes an innovation program foregoes the need for a fairy godmother – at least in this case.

2. Weed out not so great ideas

Yes, you have a brilliant team, creative as all get-out, but not every idea that comes down the pike is necessarily “the one” that will rock your customers’ world or transform your business model.

Operating in an innovation free-for-all, chasing those flashes of insight when they pop into your consciousness, might give you an adrenaline rush, but little else. And realizing you’ve yet again spent time and resources on something that wasn’t quite worthwhile, and – oh yeah, you kind of tried something similar three months ago and it didn’t catch then either is pretty depressing.

An innovation program will help you keep track of what’s fresh and exciting, what’s on the back burner, what’s been experimented with and failed. Best of all, it will track what is testing well and showing promise. You’ll always know whether you’re backing the right horse or if it’s time to move on.

3. Inspire internal and external stakeholders (via crowdsourcing) to do more

There needs to be a team approach to your innovation efforts unless you enjoy limiting yourself. The days of silos and departments and separation are over. Now areas like customer service, social marketing, and – you guessed it – innovation, are on everyone’s radar. And that’s a good thing, because it could be your CEO’s second assistant or one of your clients or customers who has that million-dollar idea that changes everything.

That’s not to say innovation should be everyone’s job though – because when something is everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job. Small teams, led by Innovation Program Managers or Innovation Program Leaders, need to lead the effort and loop in SMEs to evaluate ideas in specific areas. But using an innovation program to bring everyone into the fold to crowdsource ideas not only increases your chances of catching lightning in a bottle, it creates a sense of investment for everyone who’s part of the program. Can you say “loyal employee/customer for life?” That’s what everyone who was part of the team will be when an idea they contributed to takes hold.

Oh, and one last thought – when you have that great idea, it’s more than likely that one of your competitors has had it too (or will soon enough). Don’t get beat by disorganization. Get your innovation program in place now. You can thank us later.

What do YOU think is most important for innovation success? Tell us in the comments!

And test your ability to predict the future against our innovation predictions for 2015.

Birds of a Feather Insights with Emily Hopkins of Unum

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 10:05 AM, January 14, 2015


At Birds of a Feather 2014, we discussed key learnings and insights with innovation program leaders such as Emily Hopkins, Consumer Analyst at Unum. As a large company of 10,000 people, Emily shared that breaking down silos and identifying innovation Challenge champions has been the biggest hurdle for their program. She joined us at this year's Birds of a Feather to learn how other organizations have overcome similar hurdles, and shared her key takeaways with us from this year's event.

Watch the video here:

One of the biggest learnings from Birds of a Feather for Emily was how people have used rewards to recognize and motivate people to participate in innovation Challenges. Emily said, "We have wrestled with it back and forth just with our own internal culture -- about how you reward people for ideas whether it would be recognition or actual rewards. It's surprising how many companies use rewards for that encouragement and engagement level so, I think that that's something that I will take back and something that we'll definitely look at."

Emily discovered at Birds of a Feather that, while there is no silver bullet to solve all innovation program hurdles, there is an avid and dedicated community of innovation program leaders who are willing to discuss and share successes as well as failures in order to learn and grow from each other. This has been the most powerful takeaway for Emily.

Stay tuned to the Brightidea blog for more insights from our Birds of a Feather 2014 event for Innovation Program Leaders.

Insights to Inspire Your Approach to Innovation in 2015

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 8:50 AM, January 06, 2015



Ideas3

Technology zips along while everyone tries to keep up, but the reality is, keeping up is not enough. Companies are devoting more energy and resources to innovation, knowing that it’s no longer enough to want to compete with the likes of Apple – they need to BE the next Apple for true security.

And that’s a tall order. To have a shot at a breakthrough, you need to systematically innovate – leaving that next great idea to chance won’t cut it. So here are eight insights to inspire your innovation efforts in the New Year – and to put you in the right mindset for capturing these great ideas before your competitors do!

1. Risk Management No Longer Stifles Business Innovation - Risk managers and innovators might seem like unlikely bedfellows, but the two make for a winning combination. It’s important to make the distinction between simply changing (i.e. adapting to the marketplace) and true innovation, of course – creating change and driving others to adapt to change smartly is where this duo excels.

2. Five Ways to Boost Innovation Governance for Growth in 2015 - When it comes to innovation governance, “the tentative steps being taken are inconsistent with perceived value.” Companies know that innovation is the way, but they’re getting thrown off track by company politics, spread-too-thin structural distribution, and wait-and-see thinking. Here are 5 ways innovation governance can propel businesses forward in 2015.

3. Rethinking Your Innovation System - “As customer expectations grow and markets evolve more quickly, companies can’t expect to innovate in the ways they used to. Innovation models themselves need to be systematically innovated, rethought, and updated.” By treating innovation as a strategy requiring a system of its own, you limit loss of both time and revenue that might result from a less organized approach. With nuggets like “Fail fast and fail cheap” and “institutionalize IP” this is a must-read.

4. Innovation Comes in 4 Shades of Gray - There’s more to innovation than simply developing new products. Knowing where else to focus your attention, and what kind of results you wish to yield, can make innovation efforts that much more worthwhile. So can trying new approaches. Because as Larry Myler says, “The enemy of improvement is the deeply rooted notion that because ‘we’ve always done it this way,’ we should just continue to do so.”

5. The CIO’s Choice: Adapt or Fail - As varying technologies emerge, shift and change, and innovation becomes a priority, CIOs are being challenged to be flexible enough to adapt to the constant changes coming their way, as well as being able to predict the future and assess how best to prepare for what WILL come.

6. Inventing Products is Less Valuable Than Inventing Ideas - Inventing a new product is great, but what’s even better is running with the idea BEHIND the product and creating an entire field of products, or a new lifestyle for people to embrace. Think of the transition from iPod to iPhone to iPad and you’ve got the idea. Now how do you duplicate it?

7. Most Companies Fail to Invest in Sustainable Innovation - With the average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 shrinking by more than two-thirds over the last 50 years (and projected to decrease further), “innovation” needs to be more than just a buzzword. Companies need to commit, invest, and have an actual plan for sustaining, or they could find themselves on the extinct list down the road.

8. Crowdsourcing Gains Enterprise Credibility - Lacking innovation resources? Look beyond the typical sources to your followers and prospects to offer insight and ideas. It’s working for Coca-Cola, NASA and others.

Like everything else, innovation success requires focus and planning and routine checks along the way. Keep at it and your chances improve exponentially.

Do you have a system in place for innovation? Let us know what’s working and what isn’t!

And to inspire you even further, check out 7 Must Haves for Achieving Innovation Management ROI.

10 Articles That Redefined Innovation in 2014

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 12:51 PM, January 05, 2015


10 Articles That Redefined Innovation in 2014


Ideas

Smart enterprises know that innovation is the holy grail of success, especially in the current technological landscape. It’s not enough to succeed on your current merits – you’ve got to redefine the industry you’re part of, redefine your product, or redefine your customers’ experience. And these ten articles helped redefine the innovation space in 2014. And in case you missed them, we’re sharing them here so you can start 2015 on the right foot!

1. 12 Innovation Lessons for 2014 (They’re Still Relevant) - All businesses can learn from understanding the latest innovation trends, especially when these trends are illustrated by real-world examples like Google, Phillips and more. Where do you want to be? Figure it out by following the lead of companies who are already there.

2. Data Science Handbook: 3 Tips for Becoming a Data Scientist - Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about data science in one place, from some of the field’s most prominent voices:

 

  • DJ Patil, co-coiner of the term “data scientist” - “Data Science is a team sport”

 

  • Michelangelo D’Agostino, formerly of Obama 2012’s data team - “[You have to] figure out how to push through and not be frustrated when something doesn’t work, because things just don’t work most of the time.”

 

  • Clare Corthell, creator of “The Open Source Data Science Masters” - “In the end, the greatest reward … came from what taking a risk demonstrated about me.”

 

3. Running Your Company at 2 Speeds - “Digitization has led to bifurcated competition that challenges monolithic corporate structures. A two-speed approach to architecture will help companies navigate what’s likely to be a tricky period of transition.” Having trouble deciding what should be fast-tracked and what can wait? This will help.

4. Global Innovation Barometer Insights - How many executives believe that collaborative innovation activities drive revenue and profit? What are the barriers standing in the way? How many companies are executing key drivers they believe result in successful innovation? The answers to these questions (and more) are answered in this infographic by GE - and some of them may surprise you.

5. You Are Not Late - While it might seem like we are fully entrenched in our digitized lives, we are merely at the threshold of all that is possible. Innovators have an open playing field to create all that we’ll take for granted in the next few decades. Don’t waste the opportunity – it’s not too late. Promise.

6. Inside Shell’s Gamechanger Program - “An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” Shell’s Russ Conser quotes Charles Dickens to illustrate the general idea behind the Gamechanger program – which is to offer innovators the opportunity to “experiment” with their ideas in a safe place to discover if they have something worth pursuing further. “Some of the people who are most innovative and entrepreneurial just can’t help themselves when they get out of bed in the morning. They want to change the world… So we offer them a place to do that.”

7. How EBITDA Is Killing Enterprise Tech Innovation - Innovation requires a degree of risk, but taken too far could spell disaster for even the mightiest of companies. Tech is moving fast, but tech alone does not equal growth. Who will step up to lead this movement against EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization)? It should be you!

8. A Desirable-Future Haiku - Whatever future we envision for ourselves, it begins now with innovations we’ve yet to imagine. If you can’t quite see it, don’t worry – with a little help from some Twitter users, Kevin Kelly now can. He’ll tell you all about it.

9. Clayton Christensen vs. Jill Lepore and the Debate on Disruption - Is Innovation merely disruption of the status quo? And is this disruption a good, or bad, thing? The debate between Christensen and Lepore is like a reality show for innovation junkies…

10. Top 40 Innovation Bloggers. - And no top list would be complete without a nod to the innovation bloggers who create and share the content that keeps the conversation moving – and advancing. Check out the contenders for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2014 and then check out past years’ influencers while you’re at it!

Whatever your thoughts on innovation, it never hurts to look at things from a new angle – some would argue that’s how innovation happens – and see what shakes out. And listening to some of the greatest thinkers on the subject is never a bad idea regardless!

What inspired you to do something differently in 2014?

And check out this bonus article on how Cisco uses Brightidea to improve innovation across their business.

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