Julianna Benedick of Panasonic Discusses Their Innovation Program, SPARKZ

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 8:33 AM, August 12, 2014

Brightidea took some time at Birds of a Feather to speak with Julianna Benedick, Director of Marketing for Panasonic, about the structure and breadth of Panasonic’s Brightidea-powered innovation program.

Julianna feels strongly that innovation functions best as a democratic process, and that mantra was employed right down to their program’s name, SPARKZ. The program relied on input from all levels of their organization to build a brand identity, starting with the name, color scheme, and communications platform.

SPARKZ is centralized in the operations arm of Panasonic’s marketing department, but they are working to expand collaborative innovation to other departments, so they play a role in managing the process. Heavily involving other departments furthers Julianna’s goal of creating a democratic innovation program that spans the entire organization, even seeking input from their ace sales force, the Shark Team.

In addition to drawing on the collective knowledge of the organization, SPARKZ is also designed to serve the entire company, facilitating innovation in all departments, from marketing to supply-chain.

They have seen that, using this wide-reaching approach, small teams of only a few people can achieve greater innovation by creating departmental challenges and leveraging the fresh views of others.

To achieve their desired results, Julianna has learned from experience that it is critical to have iron-clad back-end processes in place to handle ideation and leverage the knowledge of the entire organization, with persons in various departments having ownership of individual pieces.

Watch the full video and hear what Julianna has to say on running innovation at Panasonic.

Stay tuned for more great Birds of a Feather 2014 presentations and insights.

Nielsen Case Study on Achieving Innovation Program Success

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 11:52 AM, July 29, 2014


Nielsen is the definitive brand in worldwide market intelligence and consumer media viewership information. As new media technologies developed quickly in the second decade of the new millennium, Nielsen faced the challenge of an increasingly complex innovation program and the inability to effectively manage its ideas. Their innovation program desperately needed some innovation. They sought a better way to track and visualize their innovation program in visible and accessible metrics, and increase employee participation.

Nielsen enlisted the help of Brightidea to develop a dynamic and autonomous, yet still intuitive, platform for idea management. They wanted a system that was so simple that users from any background and skillset could operate it without prior training. In restructuring its innovation process, Nielsen created one dedicated group for the entire company, with three program managers who provided each business unit with a roadmap of optimized innovation guidelines and direction. Brightidea implemented a WebStorm building platform for Nielsen, on which employees and customers are encouraged to submit ideas on specified topics and objectives, or “Challenges.” Managers evaluate submissions and drive participation by hosting 10-15 incentive Challenges at any given time. Employees and customers are reassured that their voice is being heard with regular updates to the status of their Challenge.

Over time, Nielsen has achieved widespread adoption of the program, churning out over 500 highly qualified idea submissions per quarter. Product development Challenges have already produced multiple ideas that are in the incubation or proof of concept stages. The “Cycle Time” Challenge was particularly effective at reducing development hours, thereby reducing costs and increasing revenue. In 2013, the “Cycle Time” Challenge saved Nielsen over four million employee hours, across all teams.

Looking forward, Nielsen plans to further restructure their innovation program to focus on critical business areas, including revenue, measurable quality enhancements, productivity and long-term sustainability.

For the complete case study download here: Nielsen case study.

New Features To Make The IPM’s Job Easier

Posted by Steve Bell at 10:34 AM, July 24, 2014

While the Product and Engineering teams are heads-down working on our big Fall 2014 release, we’re still rolling out great new features as part of our agile approach. We continue to focus our efforts on making the job easier for Innovation Program Managers, with features that improve operational efficiency and flexibility.

In case you missed any of them, here are highlights of some of the more significant features, many in response to customer requests.

Image Auto-Assign by Category

When we rolled out Idea Boards earlier this year, the response was tremendous. This new “Pinterest-style” visual view made ideas really pop and drive engagement. After getting feedback that not every customer took the time to upload images for each idea, we decided to take it to the next level by giving more idea image control to the challenge administrator.

With this new beta feature, challenge admins can assign images to each Idea Category, so that if an idea submitter didn’t add an image to his/her idea, the default category image will be automatically added based on the idea’s particular category.

We also added the option to disable the idea submitter’s ability to add their own image if Category Images are enabled.



Reputation Points for Idea Status Changes

Reputation points are an important tool for motivating employees and recognizing their contribution - not only for idea creation, but also for participating in the community conversation around other ideas.

We’ve added the capability for reputation points to be automatically added when an idea status is changed by the administrator or a Rules Engine rule.

For example, if a business rule triggers the advancement of an idea from ‘Reviewed’ to ‘Shortlisted’, the relevant reputation points would be automatically applied to the idea contributor. The thought being that the individual should be recognized for a contribution that clearly has value.

The reputation point updates are automatically reflected in the User Stats widget, Leaderboard widget, Manage user interface, and User Activity report.


Copy Ideas Across WebStorms

Another new capability that improves efficiency is the new beta ability to copy one or more ideas from one WebStorm to another one. This eliminates “recreating the wheel” in certain cases. For example, you might have a process improvement idea for one department that could apply to other departments. Instead of submitting the idea three or four times it can be copied instead.

From the Actions dropdown in the WebStorm Admin grid, administrators are given the option to copy attachments, votes, comments, extra submission questions, and any additional information.


Mobile Challenges List

As the Brightidea mobile app continues to gain tremendous acceptance, we’ve received great customer feedback around additional features. One such new feature is the ability to create a mobile challenge list.

Until now, the same challenges have been displayed on both Web and mobile. With this new feature, IPMs have the flexibility to check whether a challenge is Web only, mobile only, or both in the visual challenge widget. As an example, a company might want to run a public challenge to customers via their mobile devices.


We’ve also made efficiency enhancements and across-the-board performance improvements to the Brightidea platform so that you’ll experience faster search and page loads, including:

  • Enterprise search performance improvement up to 200%.
  • Enterprise Setup page performance improvement up to 48%.
  • Enterprise Admin setup page performance improvement up to 50%.
  • WebStorm setup page performance improvement up to 50%.
  • WebStorm Admin page performance improvement up to 13%.
  • SwitchBoard page performance improvement up to 11%.

That’s the lowdown for July. Stay tuned for more details on the Fall 2014 release coming in September.

Jacqueline Krain of Pearson Global Talks Innovation Management with Brightidea

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:17 AM, July 23, 2014

We sat down with Jacqueline Krain, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Pearson Global, for a few insightful minutes at this year’s Birds of a Feather event at Quicken Loans and discussed her experiences with Brightidea and innovation management.

Pearson Global first established their IDEA innovation program four years ago to gestate the full life-cycle progression of an idea from seed to fruit. Their task was to develop an innovation program for global clinical assessment, throughout their twelve intercontinental presences. The program had to manage innovation of their core intellectual property across their varied learning-product lines and services.

Paving the way for their innovation overhaul, Pearson underwent a restructuring last year, which included establishing the role of Vice President of New Business and Innovation, overseeing both a business incubator and innovation strategy. With efficacy the ultimate concern, Jacqueline and her innovation team established a critical framework of dimensions and attributes, which they integrated with the scorecarding and proposal features of Brightidea.

Initially, Pearson had previously depended on many discrete silos. After the restructuring, people from different silos did not know how to work together in the new environment. Fortunately, Brightidea facilitated collaboration in the new organization by connecting disparate functions within the company and different geographies for idea sharing on different calls-to-action.

Amongst many of the other benefits of using an innovation management solution, Jacqueline and stakeholders recognize that Brightidea has helped Pearson immensely with scaling of their program across the organization.

What does the future hold for Pearson’s IDEA program? Down the road, Jacqueline foresees that Brightidea’s scorecarding feature will help bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitative data. She also expressed an interest in employing the capability maturity and innovation maturity models discussed by Cisco at Birds of a Feather this year, and intends to integrate Kaizen and Six Sigma strategies with their innovation process.

After four years with Brightidea software in place, Jacqueline concludes that creativity, art and science are the core of innovation and in order to effectively manage ideation, you must have the appropriate discipline and structure in place.

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

Jillian Kurvers Joins Brightidea's Customer Success Team as Director of Content

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 10:16 AM, July 21, 2014

Jillian Kurvers joined Brightidea's Customer Success team as the director of content to help us share innovation best practices with customers. Here’s a little more about Jillian in her own words:

What were you doing before you joined Brightidea?
Before Brightidea, I was a content marketing manager for two lines of business at a large organization. It’s interesting to note that while working there, the company ran an “innovation jam” on its own, the result of which was something called Bagel Monday. (As you can imagine, this meant bagels were made available to employees on Mondays.) Prior to that, I was an editor at a content marketing agency, often writing on the topic of innovation for large technology companies, some of which are Brightidea customers.

What does innovation mean to you?
Let me start by telling you what innovation does not mean to me: Bagels. To me, innovation is ideation that leads to new improvements or inventions that add value to society.

What gets you excited about working for Brightidea?
That I get to think about question number two and work with people who dedicate their careers to defining and giving structure to question number two so that companies have a process that allows their best ideas to surface.

What new innovation are you most excited about?
3D printing because it’s such a departure from what we are used to, as far as printing goes, that it cannot be imagined in the context of the current technology. That, to me, is truly revolutionary. That and the fact that we can print everything from jewelry to jet engines to human organs—without running out of ink.

What do you do for fun?
I do a lot of what I like to call ball-oga-lates—it’s a fusion of ballet, yoga, and Pilates, plus some pretty embarrassing dancing that doesn’t bear mentioning. I also like NASCAR, bourbon, and writing (but not necessarily sending) postcards. I’m also beginning to dabble in foosball, but only at the office.


Brightidea Talks with Jeff Ferreira-Pro of VSP Global’s Innovation Laboratory

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 8:53 AM, July 15, 2014

Jeff Ferreira-Pro serves as Idea Curator at leading eye and vision care provider VSP Global’s innovation lab, The SHOP. We caught up with Jeff recently at Brightidea’s annual Birds of a Feather Innovation Leaders meeting, held in June 2014 at Quicken Loans, and discussed his experiences in crafting an innovation program at VSP and how Brightidea has continued to help his organization.

In the months just prior to the 2013 Birds of a Feather meeting, Jeff’s team was just getting started deploying their Brightidea-powered innovation program, Idea Bank. At the 2013 event, the team was overwhelmed with different ideas and strategies from other leading organizations with more mature innovation programs. They took their insights home from the meeting and integrated them to their Idea Bank with Brightidea.

Over the course of the past year, through trial and error, Jeff and his team zeroed-in on a sustainable innovation strategy for VSP and re-launched their Idea Bank. They developed a top down, middle out, bottom up structure that stimulates innovation at all levels of the company and struck a chord with its employees.

Jeff’s team planned their Idea Bank to collect the deluge of great ideas that are generated in such a diverse company. VSP Global is a dynamically changing organization that houses insurance, healthcare, software, manufacturing and fashion branches. With such diversity of contributors, they needed a robust innovation program and created Idea Bank to manage all of the ideas. Jeff enables VSP to redefine the industry with their ideas, rather than let them slip through the cracks and watch someone else do it.

The SHOP has found Brightidea to be invaluable for crowdsourcing innovation across their vast network. Because of the diverse nature of VSP Global, with insurance, fashion and vision components, the Idea Bank serves as a cross-organizational tool to facilitate innovation among their intertwined businesses. Each element of their business structure has ripple effects on the others, which must be taken into account when innovating and growing.

VSP employees have an average tenure of almost ten years, creating the challenge of combating complacency and the assumption that the status quo will always remain. Aware of this tendency, Jeff is vigilant to keep abreast of changes in the industry and listens to customer needs to make sure that VSP doesn’t get surpassed by a startup that’s doing something novel. Customers often don’t know what they want until it is shown to them, which keeps Jeff and his team on their toes, always looking to the future and trying new directions in innovation.

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

Birds of a Feather 2014 at Quicken in Detroit - Presentation Highlights from Innovation Leaders

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:20 AM, June 19, 2014

Recently, we held our 7th annual Birds of a Feather event in Detroit to engage innovation leaders with the latest practices, principals, challenges and opportunities within our industry. Our gracious hosts at Quicken Loans provided an inside look at how the city of Detroit is currently evolving as we toured and congregated in several beautiful, modern buildings throughout the town.

We kicked off this year's event with evening tours of innovative companies in the Detroit metro area, including Shinola watch and bicycle manufacturing facilities, and DIME (Detroit Institute of Music Education) where BOF attendees were treated to live music performances by students. View photos of each event here.

The next day focused on presentations and insights from industry leaders including Quicken Loans, Nielsen, VSP Global, Cabot Corporation, Bizdom, Fathead and Brightidea. Additionally, we held a segment on "BOF Shared Key Learnings" with 5-minute presentations on lessons learned in managing innovation from Nielsen, SAP, Kaiser Permanente, VSP Global, Cisco, Farm Credit Services of America, ACT, Inc., Panasonic, Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. and The Strategy Group. You can see what each of the presenters had to say in the slides here.

All 2014 Birds of a Feather presentations have been added to our community page on Facebook and the following are some of the highlights from our wonderful presenters this year:

Dual presentations from Quicken kicked off the summit on Tuesday morning. CEO Bill Emerson shared deep insights on their innovation strategy and approach, posing the question: "How do you create that fire in the belly?" Through setting expectations, encouraging and recognizing people, Quicken ignites ideas and a culture of innovation within their organization.

Innovation Team Leader Bill Mirza presented "Cheese Factory: The Inches We Need Are Everywhere Around Us." Bill leads Quicken Loan’s Bullet Time initiative and is obsessed with the search to what he calls "Finding a Better Way." In his presentation, he shared more about their innovation program operations, including how their team of 6 members facilitates strong communication and organizational skills to execute and implement ideas. Learn more here.


Nielsen Director of Planning and Governance Ann Marie Dumais presented "Create. Sustain. Accelerate. How to create a sustainable innovation culture through organization efficiency." As a 20-year veteran across various Nielsen owned and acquired companies, Ann Marie leads the development of a global company-wide innovation portal and a technology learning center. In this presentation, Ann Marie described how they've developed a mature innovation program and culture by applying six sigma around the ideation phase. View the full presentation here.


Jeff Ferreira–Pro, Idea Curator for The SHOP, shared insights on the innovation pipeline at VSP Global.
VSP's Idea Bank Launched last summer with one question: What can VSP Global do to become more of a leader in the growing retail market for eyewear? Since then, Idea Bank has shifted focus to opportunity areas such as the billion-dollar wearable technology market and is currently exploring disruptive ideas and innovation around Google Glass products. Learn more here.


Cabot Corporation is a leading global specialty chemicals and performance materials company. Head of Innovation John Jaddou joined BOF to present on "Focused Innovation: Connecting people and ideas to drive results." John discussed the importance of solving the right problems by engaging customers the right way and communicating effectively. Additionally, he shared how physical ideation sessions coupled with focused virtual WebStorms are essential to achieving this. View the presentation here.


Lee Burnstein of Bizdom gave the presentation "Innovate, Incubate, Accelerate" to share how large companies can play a critical role in the startup community by providing resources and programs that encourage overall growth in the larger company's ecosystem. More than capital investment, accelerators can provide structured curriculum to help increase the speed of innovation and value of startups. Learn more about the acceleration process here.


Fathead provides life-sized, precision-cut vinyl wall graphics out of Detroit, and Lynda McFarlan joined us at BOF to give us an inside look at how they help organizations create spaces that truly inspire. For Fathead, the goals are to transform a space, evoke an emotion and tell a great story through imagery and use of space. To see more of how Fathead brings culture and philosophy to life, watch the videos featured in Lynda's presentation.


Stay tuned for additional videos and highlights from the 2014 Birds of a Feather event!

Challenge Promotion Tools

Posted by Steve Bell at 10:21 AM, May 28, 2014

Innovation executives and program managers know that it can sometimes be a struggle to get and keep the attention of employees for the duration of an innovation Challenge. It’s not uncommon for a Challenge to start strong with a lot of idea flow, only to wane over time.

Enabling employees to innovate through their mobile device stimulates Challenge engagement, which is one of the main reasons Brightidea’s new Mobile 5 is being met with such enthusiasm.

Mobile 5 Adoption!


To ensure employees are taking full advantage of the power and convenience of mobile, they need to be made aware of it. That’s why we’ve recently released a set of new features focused on helping innovation managers promote their innovation Challenges and stimulate mobile usage. Here’s what’s new:

Mobile Promotion Widget Use the new Mobile Promotion Widget to promote mobile usage directly from your Challenge (WebStorm) or Enterprise home page. Your employees can click the iPhone or Android button to receive an email link that takes them directly to the app download. The widget image and text are fully customizable.


Mobile Promotion Newsletter Challenge administrators can now select a new out-of-the-box Mobile Promotion newsletter template to quickly and easily send employees instructions on how to get the Mobile 5 app.


Mobile Download Link in System Email Footer When your employees receive Brightidea system-generated emails, you can now include a customizable promotion in the footer, like “Try innovating on the go with your mobile device!” with a link to download the app.


Smart App Banners New Smart App Banners prompt the download of the Mobile 5 app when a user accesses Brightidea via their mobile browser. If the user already has the Mobile 5 app installed, it will prompt the user to open it.


Invite a Colleague To encourage collaboration, you can enter a colleague’s email address to invite them to participate via mobile device. They will receive an email with a link to download the app and will be allowed to participate as long as they have been invited to the Challenge.


Editable Push Notifications Push notifications have several important functions: first, they’re a great way to instantly mobilize hundreds or thousands of employees to participate in a new Challenge. They also play a critical role in keeping employees engaged over time with real-time updates on ideas, such as votes, comments, and tags. You can also use push notifications to create a sense of urgency with a note like “Don’t forget your Challenge is ending in 3 days – get your ideas in now!”


Challenge Managers can now fully customize notification text from the Challenge (WebStorm) setup page.


With these new promotional tools, Innovation Program Managers can tap into one of the most significant trends of our time – the mobile workforce – to engage employee innovators wherever they are to collaborate and find solutions to pressing business issues across your organization. To learn more about Mobile 5 visit our webpage at brightidea.com/mobile5.

Merck Focuses on Innovation Strategy to Prepare for the Healthcare Industry of Tomorrow

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 2:37 PM, May 21, 2014

The healthcare field is a known hotbed of innovation and discovery, particularly as practitioners seek to overcome hurdles and challenges the industry faces. Forward-thinking healthcare companies today are striving to find solutions to patient needs that transcend medication, requiring great changes to the incumbent organizational structures. Such large amounts of innovation require an appropriate means of management. 

In a recent interview with Eye for Pharma, Samuel Pygall, Patient Services Manager at Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (Merck & Co.) discussses the many facets of organizations that first need addressing in order to drive innovation program initiatives.  

Using Interdisciplinary Expertise to Innovate Across Departments

Early in my career, I learned that I love to build products, and that's what I've spent the past 10 years doing. Most recently, I headed up the product team at the digital health SaaS company, Zipongo, where we built a personalized healthy eating platform for users, across web and mobile. Previously, as a design strategist at the innovation consultancy, Continuum, I applied design thinking principles to uncover user insights and drive product strategy for clients across industries - including pharma, consumer products, automotive, and hospitality. One of my most rewarding projects was for a home appliance company where we developed a product strategy that redefined air quality for users.

What does innovation mean to you?

The organization of the future foresees "jack-of-all-trades" teams with expertise across many disciplines. Pygall asserts that by breaking out of the traditional structure, these independents will transcend organizational silos by working with points of contact within various departments, sharing and employing their interdepartmental expertise. By holding meetings with stakeholders of the various departments, an organization can increase transparency and progress with moving ideas forward, with the end goal being to benefit the patient.

Pygall has seen through Merck's telehealth initiative, that by getting participants involved in the earliest stages of a project, they enabled efficient progression in the new patient support system. Its stakeholders provided input into the design and development of the new system, which gave them a vested interest in success of the project.

Incentivizing Participation

To achieve big picture success, employees must understand the impact of the innovations on customer value and how integral each of them is to project. This means that the messages must hit home for each participant, by being properly tailored to each department, and avoiding genericized messages designed to inspire all. Each department must understand how important its involvement is and how it will benefit from the success of the program. Allowing employees to devote a percentage of their time to projects of personal interest is also a particularly effective means of inspiring eager participation.

By using these interdisciplinary experts to bridge the gap between departments and incentivizing effective participation in innovation programs, Merck and other healthcare providers can move forward into the medical system of the future.

For more information and the full text of this article, please refer to: http://social.eyeforpharma.com/

Brightidea’s Response to OpenSSL Heartbleed Vulnerability

Posted by Lou Ostdiek at 9:17 AM, April 15, 2014


Heartbleedicon_checkmarkFirst and foremost, we'd like to inform our customers that at no point in time has data stored with us been vulnerable to the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug. At Brightidea Inc., we take the responsibility very seriously of ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the data our platform is entrusted with hosting.

Upon learning of OpenSSL vulnerability on April 7th, we initiated an audit of our systems. Since our usage of OpenSSL is limited, we completed this audit in less than an hour. The result of the audit showed that we were not using any versions of OpenSSL affected by the vulnerability.

In addition to our audit, we reached out to our hosting provider Dimension Data. Dimension Data’s Cloud Business Unit security team had also immediately investigated the potential implications of this vulnerability. They concluded that its Cloud Business Unit, used for hosting by Brightidea, does not utilize the vulnerable version of OpenSSL in the underlying infrastructure and cloud control layers across all data centers.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to share how we are continuing to improve our encryption policies by reducing dependencies solely on network layer encryption such as SSL and TLS. Specifically, in addition to network encryption, our online backup data is also AES 256 bit encrypted before it’s transmitted by the backup software. This means that even if network encryption was compromised, as in the case of the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug, data stored with us will still be safe.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation ongoing just as we have been for all security alerts.

Please don't hesitate to contact us us if you have any questions about this issue or how we continuously improve on our security and encryption policies.

Lou Ostdiek
CTO Brightidea

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