The Innovation Tech Stack

The essential digital tools you need to improve your innovation function.

George Krasadakis
The Innovation Machine
7 min readNov 15, 2023


Photo by fabio on Unsplash

Innovation does not always require sophisticated methods, techniques, or tools. In many cases, innovation happens naturally, organically. Big innovations can come out of the blue, after a moment of inspiration followed by great execution by a capable, driven team. In this sense, the only prerequisite for innovation is having talented, motivated people who work together under the right conditions, to solve big problems.

However, to increase the chances of such ‘innovation moments’, companies should adopt a ‘system’ for innovation — a set of methods and tools that promote collaboration, simplify knowledge exchange, and inspire people to share their best ideas and collaborate effectively on solving the right problems.

This ‘system’ serves multiple facets of innovation:

  • Motivates people to engage with the Innovation Process, learn more about the problems worth solving, and share their ideas for potential solutions.
  • Helps innovators diffuse their ideas and make them discoverable by the right stakeholders in the organization.
  • Streamlines Information and Knowledge Sharing by promoting communication and collaboration.
  • Empowers the Opportunity Discovery Function — helps the leadership of the company discover and validate business opportunities faster and make the right investment decisions.

Thanks to modern digital technologies, there are various tools and platforms that, if used in the right way and with the right mindset, can make corporate innovation ‘always on’, inclusive, effective, and measurable — and thus boost the innovation performance of your organization.

But, on the other hand, there are too many offerings — innovation tools, systems, platforms — and in some cases overlapping. Combined with the lack of precise definitions of innovation and its methods, this creates ‘noise’ and makes it difficult to select the innovation tools that can serve the real needs and priorities.

Disclaimer: The listing of products is independent and unsponsored — I am not affiliated with any of the companies listed here.

1. Idea Management

A growing, well-maintained pool of ideas can become the primary source of business opportunities. In this sense, increasing the volume of ideas the company generates is the obvious thing to do.

However, this can become noisy, complicated, inefficient, or even problematic: how could a large organization effectively manage their accumulated ideas? How, would they evaluate them, identify the next steps and notify the owners? How should duplicate ideas be handled? How should the organization discover and react to ideas? How should the company acknowledge ideators and reward them for their inventive contribution?

While it is fair to say that the more ideas a company generates the better, there must be a system in place that addresses issues like the ones mentioned above. For example, an effective ideation system must provide a consistent framework for idea submission and assessment, along with tools for discovery, communication, or even collaboration on top of certain ideas. In this sense, technology, accompanied by the right programs and the innovation culture — can help companies innovate faster: It can help teams focus on those problems worth solving, capture and evaluate ideas faster, and improve communication and collaboration. Technology can help the company move towards a ‘continuous opportunity discovery’ mode.

As I explain in ‘The Innovation Mode’, innovative companies take a more open approach to ideation and adopt what I call ‘an always-on’ ideation channel. This means that ideas should be welcome at any point, from any employee in the company — even if they are ‘out of context’ and not aligned with a particular direction. The ideation process should be simple, fast, and effective — encouraging people to submit their ideas and collaborate on further developing them. Ideas could evolve into patents, proof of concepts, prototypes, or enter your innovation portfolio as candidates for MVP development and, potentially, for further investment and real implementations — systems, products, or services.

Regardless of the structure of your innovation funnel, to get into an ‘always on’ innovation mode you need to put in place a simple, powerful platform that organizes your ideas as ‘a new form of innovation asset’: a corpus of ideas for your organization. There are various good SaaS offerings that can be used as the basis for Idea Management or even more advanced programs such as Gamification and Rewards. To select the right one for your case you need to consider a number of parameters — however here is a short list of notable platforms that I typically consider for my clients:

These platforms cover the core needs for idea management and also offer features for the broader innovation management process. This is not an exhaustive list and it is not a recommendation as this should take into account the size of your organization, its ‘innovation maturity’ level, existing systems, and strategic goals.

For a personalized recommendation consider our innovation consulting services

2. Collaboration

These are modern, powerful digital products that allow real-time collaboration using visual, interactive tools such as whiteboarding. They are especially useful in a remote or hybrid setup — when some or all members of the team are working remotely. But even in a on-premise arrangement these tools can still boost collaboration and speed up the innovation process.

They typically provide an interactive ‘digital canvas’ where work can be organized visually with little effort. Used properly, these tools can help your teams align, and minimize the overhead of documenting, maintaining and sharing information. Workshops can be fun and more collaborative while faster and more productive.

Although products in this category are not strictly ‘innovation tools’, they do improve the innovation process significantly — by fostering collaboration, co-creation, sharing of ideas, and exploration of concepts. Some of the most known platforms in this category are:

3. Communication

This is a straightforward category, but equally important: it contains the systems and platforms that allow synchronous and asynchronous collaboration between and within teams. These tools bring together the organization via audio/video calls, chat experiences and various layers of automation and sharing tools. In this category:

4. Wireframing & Design

This is an essential activity in an innovation context: as ideas mature, they need to be visualized and validated and this typically involves some form of wireframing, design and static prototyping. The digital tools listed in this category simplify the process of prototyping and related activities. They offer advanced functionality, with great collaboration tools, along with templates and an easy-to-use toolkit. Here is a list of characteristic tools:

5. Prototyping with Low-code, No-code

This is an emerging trend in software development, which brings a massive impact, not only by accelerating innovation, but also by empowering less technical people to build high-quality applications. Given the maturity level of current digital technologies and application development patterns, it is feasible to abstract app development patterns and scenarios and provide an easy-to-use data-driven or visual-driven environment that simplifies the development of prototypes and in some cases, production-grade applications. The development becomes simpler and, in some cases, it requires no code at all. Notable platforms:

There are also some great platforms out there that allow fast implementation of digital experiences — complete websites and in some cases mobile apps with rich features, including e-commerce, campaign management, and email marketing. In the context of innovation, these could be used for quick experimentation activities (landing pages, registration processes, content-driven experiences) but also for building simple digital products. In this space, I would highlight the following:

6. Feedback Management

Feedback loops are essential, not only for innovation, but for every stage of modern product/service development and operation. In this category, I would include:

7. Product & Portfolio Management

Product Management and especially Portfolio management and road-mapping is critical for innovation. These tools help companies maintain the big picture and prioritise wisely, by following a portfolio approach and balancing the risk across different types of innovation. Properly used, such systems can connect innovation effort with active product development initiatives and make innovation more actionable, visible and quantifiable. Instead of maintaining custom lists and random dashboards, a portfolio management system can make the difference. In this space I list:

8. UX Research, User Testing, Consumer Intelligence

These are products that can simplify the process of obtaining insights regarding user behaviors, preferences, and experiences and testing ideas with real users. Here are some notable products:

9. Patent insights, Market Intelligence ++

There are various other services that can simplify and accelerate various aspects of corporate innovation, for example, patent search and insights (see Patsnap) or customer experience platforms (see Qualtrics).

Of course, and as explained in The Innovation Mode, Artificial Intelligence disrupts the innovation process itself through agents like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and various other purpose-specific AI-powered apps that accelerate nearly all the aspects of innovation and bring new, previously unconceivable capabilities to the mix. Follow me here to get the upcoming article ‘How Artificial Intelligence Redefines the Innovation Process

Of course, as mentioned above, identifying the right tools depends on various factors such as the sector, size of the company, and type of offered products and services. Hence, the above listing only describes a typical innovation stack. For an assessment and personalized advice consider our innovation consulting services

Tools and platforms alone will not make your company more innovative; effective innovation leadership will. Leading innovation efforts means inspiring and guiding people on where to focus their innovation efforts; bringing the right innovation culture; establishing simple, effective processes for innovation; optimizing opportunity discovery, validation, and execution.

Learn more: Innovation Advisory by the author of The Innovation Mode.



George Krasadakis
The Innovation Machine

Technology & Product Director - Corporate Innovation - Data & Artificial Intelligence. Author of Opinions and views are my own