Thoughts On Innovation Management From FEI 2010

I just had the chance to attend the "Front End of Innovation" (FEI) conference at the World Trade Center in Boston May 3-5. This event is sponsored by variety of innovation management suppliers, and included some great speakers like James Surowiecki (author of "The Wisdom of Crowds") and Sophie Vanderbroek (President of Xerox Innovation Group). Though I was only able to attend two of the three days at this event, I was able to leave with a solid impression on the innovation management marketplace.

A few of my notes from this event:

  • There is a unique innovation marketplace. With the sheer diversity of innovation discussions taking place at this event, I found it interesting to question whether the there is such thing as a common innovation management marketplace. I think there is. Everyone I spoke to at this event was either trying to unlock innovation potential within their own organization, or was trying to help their clients unlock their own innovation potential. In this regard, the marketplace for innovation is quite different with the boarder market of social collaboration tools and technologies -which I do not think has the same mission.
  • The market is broader than many realize. Despite the common objectives, the companies in this "market" bring a wide variety of different capabilities to the table. For example, at this event, I interacted with:
    • Companies like Spigit, Imaginatik, Idea8, and Kindling who have software tools focusing on idea management (but each with unique strengths)
    • NineSigma and Innocentive who are leveraging their "open innovation" heritage to bring new business models and a distinct offerings to clients
    • Innosight, which brings more management consulting offerings and thought leadership to lead its strategy consulting engagements
    • Seek, Futurethink, and Maddock Douglas which do not focus nearly as much on technology, but instead on methodologies, thought leadership, and workshops that can help clients clarify innovation objectives.
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