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What Impact Did 2020 Have on Innovation? |

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By: Rob Hoehn

2020 revealed our fragility and our capacity for adaptation, and what IdeaScale’s 2021 State of Crowdsourced Innovation report reveals is improved innovation capability from faster implementation rates to more engaged leadership. Let’s look at some trends and takeaways from this year’s report.

Last year, McKinsey released a report that stating, “in past crises, companies that invested in innovation delivered superior growth and performance post-crisis. Organizations that maintained their innovation focus through the 2009 financial crisis, for example, emerged stronger, outperforming the market average by more than 30 percent and continuing to deliver accelerated growth over the subsequent three to five years.”

After a year of extreme disruption, IdeaScale is noticing that organizations are, in fact, investing in innovation in order to not only survive the pandemic and other challenges, but also to avoid disruption in the future. But what are some of the most surprising takeaways from the 2021 Innovation Report?

Very Few Innovation Programs Expect a Budget Decrease

Resources have been a consistent struggle for innovation programs who are working to gain mindshare and budget from day-to-day operations, but for the first time, more than half of IdeaScale’s customers reported that they have a budget dedicated to the implementation of ideas and only 6% of them expected their total innovation budget to decrease over the coming year. Most innovation leaders expected their budgets to remain the same or increase.

There is a Notable Shift Towards Adjacent and Transformational Innovation

This was a surprise, because so much of 2020 required rapid adaption in order to meet core expectations, but we believe that all that work to improve processes and cut costs has created an appetite for more impactful change. A mere 38% of innovation change was categorized as core in 2020 with the remaining focus placed on the more disruptive portfolio options.

Most Innovation Programs Implement Ideas in Six Months or Less

The opportunity presented with crowdsourced innovation is the ability to act faster, because there is more validation and also access to more resources. We have seen product development lifecycles cut in half using crowdsourcing, but this year we noticed even more improvement. For the past two years, half of our customers took more than six months to implement an idea after submission. Now the majority of IdeaScale innovators are implementing ideas in six months or less.

More Than Half of the Innovation Programs Surveyed Report to the Top Level of Leadership

As alluded to earlier in the article, we are seeing more engagement from the top level of leadership. Whether this is because leaders have finally learned the importance of innovation or because innovation managers were able to solve some meaningful problems for their leaders in a time of crisis is unclear. What is clear is that more than half of innovation respondents have engaged the top level of leadership at their company. We know that this has had an impact, because every year we ask our customers if they believe that they have sufficient leadership and influence in order to succeed and this year we saw the confidence level spike from 60% to 78%!

To access the full 2021 State of Crowdsourced Innovation report, download it here.

About the Author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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