For the past six years, some of the world's biggest companies have turned to a little software company called General Ideas Inc. for help with what it calls innovation management. Now the company, which has changed its name to Brightidea Inc., hopes to make its technology more attractive to midsize companies with the launch Monday of a subscription-based innovation-management service.
Businesses use Brightidea software to manage a repository of innovative ideas and rank potential innovations. The software helps businesses ensure they're spending money in the right areas, tracks the progress of innovations through an organization, helps with finding experts for certain challenges, and analyzes the cost of bringing an idea to fruition. "We're really talking about innovation process management. We're not trying to coax people into thinking of ideas," says Brightidea CEO Matthew Greeley.
Brightidea customers include Bosch, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Honeywell, and Reliant Energy. The new Web-based, on-demand offering is designed for midmarket companies with $150 million or more in annual revenue, Greeley says.
The management tools included in the service, which runs $49 a month per user, are supported by analytics, archiving, financials, and rewards processes that allow a company to understand and save data created around innovations, compute the bottom-line impact, and recognize those most responsible. "There might be somebody who everyone wants to fire because he wears sandals into every meeting, but if he's the guy who had the seminal ideas for the past three products, you want that guy around, and you want to know that," Greeley says.
Many businesses, however, don't recognize the value of the type of software often referred to as knowledge management, says Basex chief analyst Jonathan Spira, author of the forthcoming book, "Managing The Knowledge Workforce: Understanding The Information Revolution That's Changing The Business World" (Mercury Business Press, 2005). But companies of all sizes are largely unprepared for life in a knowledge-based economy, he says, which may spur more interest in knowledge-management vendors. "The prospects for these [vendors] are fairly bright, because so few people are managing their intellectual property, but they need to," Spira says. "All Brightidea has to do is educate the populace."