Today, enterprise social software vendors are in a position of having to both differentiate products in a crowded market and make the business case for social in the enterprise. "Process" has become a mantra for companies trying to make the case for a particular solution, and innovation management software is not immune from this tendency.
We could debate the seemingly Orwellian nature of the concept of "putting process around ideas," but I think process is a good thing. Innovation can't be forced, but what you do with ideas once you have them is important. Making sure the right people find the right ideas is critical, as is deciding what to do with them and how to act on them. SpigitFusion and BrightIdea Innovation Suite are logical progressions of innovation management.
What's interesting here is that the process is necessitating a slight expansion of scope for these products. We're pretty sympathetic to the concept of best-of-breed solutions over Swiss Army Knife-style application suites. But there's something to be said for the suite, namely the integration between applications. It's a problem we come back to often. Idea management is a great, well, idea. But to be useful it must integrate with other systems, such as project management and knowledge management.
Fortunately, the enterprise app store model may be able to bring best-of-breed solutions to suites. That would give customers the best of both worlds. But only if those best-of-breed apps have good ways to communicate with one another.
"Do one thing and do it well" is a good motto, but it's not always clear where that "one thing" ends. Take another example: enterprise question and answer software. Companies like MindQuilt and Opzi are offering solutions. But doesn't it make sense for these to be tightly integrated with both microblogging and idea management? It might make sense to have three different applications for blogging, wikis and project management if each one is well integrated through an underlying platform. But does it make sense to have three different products for microblogging, idea management and questions?
Socialcast, which has been focused on being a best of breed microblogging solution, announced this week that it's adding a question and answer service. It makes a lot of sense for the company, which has been very focused on creating business value, to add this as a variation of its existing service.
But where does reasonable enhancement end and feature creep begin?
Photo by Bart