Leading Innovation Software Vendors Comparison

Comparing the Top Names in Innovation Management Software Comparison

Innovation is the key to success in today’s business world, but most organizations have little or no idea how to even begin implementing an effective and sustainable innovation initiative.

After extensive research we decided that a company-wide implementation of idea and innovation management software offered the most potential value to our organization. I’m sharing this information because when I was struggling with the decision of which idea management software to purchase, I found a wealth of useful information on this forum. I wanted to share my research and findings in the hope that it will help other, executives come to a conclusion more quickly and easily as a result of our efforts.

What is idea management software?

Idea and innovation management software helps an organization generate, collect, filter, organize, implement, and analyze the results of ideas from employees, customers, third-parties, and outsourced contributors. This gives organizations one central location for collecting innovative ideas from everyone, including low-level employees who might never be heard otherwise, but actually have great insights and ideas.

What is innovation management?

As the CINO of a major technology enterprise, I understand that innovation management needs to be so much more than just a buzzword that gets thrown around the office . For several years, my company tried juggling the idea generation, management, and implementation on our own, using a software tool our IT built for us on our own. After some time, I saw that rather than fostering innovation however, we simply kept reinventing the wheel, churning out old ideas in a slightly different way. We would constantly be waiting for IT to deliver some fabulous new feature or an upgrade that we could utilize, but they never came. By the time anything of value did come out of the process, it was too late for us to capitalize on the innovation because it was already old news. In short, we always felt one step behind the market.

We began researching innovation management vendors, running comparisons, and weighing our options. The right solution for our internal idea management software had to check several boxes including:

- Easy to use, very engaging

- Able to support various idea evaluation workflows/scenarios

- Able to incorporate numerous decision makers

- Able to support multiple languages and a global roll-out

- Multi-tenancy and sub-system functionality

- Field proven & best practice approach (not to reinvent the wheel)

- Tools for incentives and gamification/rewards

- Future-proof (we already know our needs change over time — need a solution that would be flexible enough to meet our unknown future requirements)

We looked for a platform that would initially support a division of 1,000 employees, but we also wanted something that could eventually scale up to support our full workforce of 17,000.

This internal report is from our final analysis of the tests we ran in Q4 2016. It represents the conclusions based on our own internal research done by a team we dedicated specifically to this task. Among other resources used within their research were the Forrester, Gartner, and InfoTech reports,* some of the industry’s most reliable assessment tools. Our staff ran tens of vendors through various metrics and then narrowed this down to the three best solutions according to the results.

The Brands & Criteria

Which is the best idea management software?

In order to be succinct, we will focus on the top three vendors that reached the final assessment round. The three top brands were:

  1. HYPE Innovation: an idea collaboration tool with an emphasis on consulting
  2. IdeaScale: one of the earliest vendors in the industry, providing simple innovation platforms on a cost-per-user basis
  3. Qmarkets: an idea management and innovation provider with a strong focus on configuration and multiple use-cases

What are the most important idea management software features?

The criteria we chose to focus on were comprehensiveness, flexibility, and intuitiveness. These features were chosen for their degree of importance to our organization and the benefit we could yield from each one as follows:

- Comprehensiveness: The number of features as well as the extent and depth of the features offered is really what determines whether or not software will help an organization achieve its goals.

- Flexibility: A software’s flexibility is tantamount to its success. Since each company has varying needs, uses, and cultures to incorporate into the system, innovation management software has to be flexible enough to fit a wide range of use cases. Additionally, companies grow and downsize according to their current business model, and software has to easily scale to accommodate those fluctuations according to a company’s changing needs.

  • Intuitiveness: A smooth user interface, smart reporting tools, and smart dashboard configuration will make a platform understandable, intuitive, and easy to use. Even more importantly though, businesses need a solution that is simple for end users to make use of.

BENEFIT #1: COMPREHENSIVENESS

Hype has several features that gave them an edge over other vendors that didn’t make the cut. They offer structured innovation activities, good pipeline explorer, and consulting services. The software can be used within IBM Connections and Jive Software’s UI. Hype added their Trends feature last year in collaboration with TrendOne. This appeared to be an excellent addition to the software, but the potential for that feature was never fully reached.

IdeaScale brings idea collaboration to the forefront, allowing everyone from top-level all the way down to collaborate with ease. This however is where this vendor’s tool set ends. IdeaScale severely lacks the robust features that were required to support our enterprise-grade initiative. IT analyst InfoTech points out that Ideascale is missing key components such as idea prioritization and an automatic idea maturation processes. Additionally, IdeaScale has shown poor integration with existing collaboration tools.

● Forrester ranks Qmarkets at the top for its comprehensive tool set. Our research discovered that not only does their suite come with a variety of tools to suit organizational needs such as offering multiple multilingual tenants for different units in the company and more integration options, but this brand has also developed a variety of products to harness different types of engagement. InfoTech also gave Qmarkets a good rating for “strong idea collaboration, workflow, and reporting engines to help drive ideas forward.” (Quotes are from the InfoTech report.) This confirms our findings based on our own research and experience with the brand. We also liked Qmarkets’ 360 offering. It illustrates that Qmarkets understands that enterprises have a wide range of idea management needs, both internally and externally, and provides solutions for both. We particularly liked that their solutions varied from innovation management to process improvement and performance excellence.

BENEFIT #2: FLEXIBILITY

Hype has a pretty decent array of services for matching different types of businesses, though we felt that they were catered more to SME and smaller corporations. Forrester also points out that those tools are not particularly customizable. Their out-of-the-box capabilities are meant to simplify the customization, but they end up limiting users in the process. Frankly, we had a concern that some vendors misuse the term ‘flexibility’ as a marketing term. Also, needing to build a new system from scratch is a major drawback to this brand.

IdeaScale has more flexibility than Hype, with configurable innovation stages and a range of activities to support each stage of the process. InfoTech indicated that this brand has no on-premises solutions to offer, which can be a security concern for some organizations, but for us it wasn’t a priority. IdeaScale also has limited idea assessment capabilities. The process must be handled manually, making the whole system slower and more cumbersome. Gartner highlights IdeaScale’s scalability, featuring various levels that progress according to the audience. But eventually we were left with the feeling that the level of workflow configuration they offered simply wasn’t robust enough for a global rollout.

Qmarkets offers the option to configure its product to fit the particular pain points of a company. We found that most innovation software attempts to do the opposite — to fit your business needs into its pre-existing format or structure; the structure of the Qmarkets software is configuration-based, so it adapts on a per-customer-basis according to requirements, processes, needs, and business culture. We liked the fact that Qmarkets offered both a very good template/basis, and the ability to customize it down to the low level details. InfoTech awards Qmarkets top points for its scalability as they provide “an Innovation management solution that is suitable for organizations of all sizes.” Qmarkets has an evolving technology and structure that scales with your business, allowing you to maintain a competitive advantage through changing circumstances. On Forrester’s 5-point scale, Qmarkets scored second highest of 15 industry-leading brands. We also found that Qmarkets makes the product scalable to accommodate fluctuating company growth, and encourages audience engagement for maximum collaboration.

BENEFIT #3: INTUITIVENESS

Hype scored high on intuitiveness, with interactive dashboards, built-in reporting, and export and analysis tools that are easy to use. Their intuitive strengths end there, however, without much gamification variety, a key feature of innovation software for incentivizing participation. However, we also learned that this intuitiveness on the front end comes at the cost of back end modification simplicity. This underscored the previous issue we had with Hype being inflexible and lacking effective scalability. What scalability they did have came at the expense of the ability to provide an overall view of insights, statistics, and most importantly, ROI, for all campaigns. For our needs, nice and shiny simply wasn’t enough.

IdeaScale scored most of its points in this area according to Forrester by building a comprehensive network that allows everyone to interact, contribute, and comment from top-level execs downwards. Unfortunately, it seemed that their customers had a much harder time with idea assessment, reporting, and workflow than we would like from a software provider. These tools were clunky and hard to understand and work with.

Qmarkets scored 100 on the InfoTech scale (the average score was 61), which highlighted this brand’s superiority in the field of intuition. Forrester noted a wide range of features including reporting dashboards and easy workflow management as key factors for this score. We found the gamification variety, attractiveness, and implementation to be the best in the industry as well. Initially, we researched several Qmarkets legacy systems and found a few of their options to be somewhat cumbersome. However, this past year Qmarkets released a new UI that has changed the experience entirely. Later research revealed a much better UX. Our evaluation team enjoyed the sleek UI and completely responsive design. Qmarkets also released an intuitive mobile app, though this was less relevant for our purposes than the solid responsive UI. Once these updates were in place, it was easy to understand InfoTech’s score.

What is the best enterprise idea management software?

IdeaScale, Hype, and Qmarkets each have strengths that make them stand out in a market which is saturated with small interchangeable vendors. When we did our evaluation, we found that the only good way to really see the differences between the various platforms is to define in more detail the specific use cases and future needs to be addressed by the software. In this context, we found the Qmarkets functionality to be both deep and wide, their tailored service offers flexibility and customization like none other in the industry, and Qmarkets’ scalability makes it easy to use for SMEs looking to grow or enterprises attempting to start local branches in a specific division and eventually expand globally. I hope this helps anyone reading our report. Obviously, other organizations will value criteria differently, but for our purposes, the answer was clear.

*Forrester, Gartner, and InfoTech reports