Six months ago we did an overview of trends in the idea management market. At the time, most of the action was going on in the internal idea/innovation management area. This time around, the new trends are emerging around externally focused idea management solutions.

Each of the three trends we identified six months ago now has a corollary trend.

Internal Innovation Management Solutions Turning Outwards

Six months ago we looked at how UserVoice, originally intended to solicit ideas and feedback from customers, was being used internally at some organizations to manage ideas from employees. Deloitte even offers a service based around the product.

Now, companies like BrightIdea and Spigit, which have historically been focused on internal innovation, are now offering services that reach outward to customers instead of just employees.

It seems that the internal and externally facing enterprise idea management spaces are now converging. This could have something to do with the growing interest in social CRM and social business. The concept of “customer collaboration” is hot again, so social software vendors are providing services that can help make connections and bring in ideas from outside the firewall.

Facebook as an Idea Management Platform

In our previous idea management trends article, we highlighted Microsoft SharePoint as the hot platform for internally facing idea management vendors. But for externally facing idea management vendors, Facebook is the clear platform of choice. It’s an obvious choice: if you want your customers to provide ideas, you go where your customers are. Increasingly, that means going to Facebook.

BrightIdea and Spigit both released Facebook applications recently, following vendors like Jenni and IdeaScale which have been offering Facebook applications for quite sometime.

We looked at idea managment applications for Facebook here.

Vendors are Adding More Features to Products

In September, we looked at how social software vendors like Jive, MangoSpring and NewsGator were adding idea management features to their social suite offerings. What we’re seeing now is that best-of-breed idea managment vendors are adding more structure to their products to provide differentiation both from each other and from the suite vendors.

In the past six months, BrightIdea and Spigit both launched new products: BrightIdea InnovationSuite and SpigitFusion. Both are focused on the process of transforming an idea into a real project. Also of note, Kindling added a recommendation engine to its product shortly after our last trends round-up, UserVoice recently added a help desk to its offerings, and relative newcomer UserEcho offers Q&A, “Thanks” and bug reporting in addition to ideas.

This expansion of features lead to a conversation about product scope and feature creep.

As vendors flesh out products and markets converge, how much is too much? Should microblogging, Q&A and idea management also converge?