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Digitalizing innovation management systems empowers faster, more effective decision-making


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When an organization embraces digitalization, it can analyze potential combined revenues and profits of various combinations of projects, determine the resources and budgets necessary for success and score the viability of these combinations.

Innovation is never as simple as going from Point A to Point B. Whether navigating external challenges like supply chain interruptions or sudden market changes; companies must often make quick, accurate decisions to stay ahead of competitors and remain on track for their chosen strategy and goals. Unfortunately, for larger companies, decision-making may take longer than for smaller organizations and startups.

Many traditional project and portfolio management tools help control the status, timeline, and budgets but don’t necessarily enable quicker and better decisions. This is especially true for decisions that require information beyond timeline and budget at the project level across multiple departments and locations. That information often exists across numerous silos. All the information you need is available within its silo, but it may be too late by the time you find, interpret and act on the data.

Digitalizing enterprise innovation management tools and presenting them in a single system or a source of truth helps large companies access and contextualize critical and up-to-date data and use common metrics to support the fastest, most accurate decisions.

Here are three benefits that occur when businesses embrace digital transformation in innovation.

Accessible knowledge management

A customer once told me, “If only our company knew what our company knows.” Meaning that in so many areas that are unrelated organization-wise, the knowledge would be useful to input to challenges and opportunities in other areas of the same company.   The best decisions require historical context, and digitalization enables faster knowledge management that goes beyond timeline, status, and budget updates to give decision-makers access to the historical context necessary to execute innovation recommendations.

This real-life example from one of our customers, which has 117 independent business units, perfectly illustrates knowledge management's benefits. One of the company’s business units developed a methodology to pump nitrogen into potato chip bags to keep the product fresh. The process was recorded and made available across the company using our innovation management tool.

Another business unit, completely independent from the packaging organization, found the methodology and applied the same technology to pump nitrogen into airplane fuel tanks and automobile tires. As this example shows, knowledge reuse often results in more effective innovation, reduced time to market, and sometimes increased success rates if the problem is not easy to solve.

Efficient product portfolio management

We all understand how important product portfolio management is to ensure continuous innovation, but it is a challenging exercise for enterprises with numerous brands, business units, and geographies. Complexity increases when they use disparate tools. In this scenario, updating the portfolio could take months, with excessive time spent on data scrubbing.

A digitalized portfolio with a single source of truth allows cross-functional team members across the organization to make real-time updates, enabling more accurate, timely, and trusted data to allow better decisions by stakeholders. As a result, organizations can eliminate lengthy, manual portfolio audits and focus on more innovation-facing activities.

And a digitalized product portfolio further enables fast decision-making, especially in the current business environment with consistent changes and disruptions. In today’s business environment, consumer demands shift at a moment’s notice, supply chain issues such as chip shortages, and new sustainability requirements and opportunities. A single source of truth for portfolios can give executives a clear understanding of the go-forward impact on key metrics from all portfolio initiatives. It’s nearly impossible to respond to frequent changes and disruptions without the access and insight digitalization brings.

Look-ahead capabilities

Data is perhaps an organization’s most valuable non-human asset. It provides tremendous insight into corporate strategy execution, customer trends, what’s working, what’s not, and what product opportunities they should pursue. The larger the company, the richer the data. But many companies can’t take advantage of their wealth of data because accessing all of it is nearly impossible.

Companies without a digitalized, single source of truth are at a competitive disadvantage. They can, perhaps, cobble together enough data to analyze the past, but it takes valuable time and effort to interpret the different data sources. However, multiple, non-integrated tools prevent companies from quickly taking what they’ve learned and applying it to future innovation decisions. Due to the delays caused by this collection and interpretation effort, the best-case scenario is one where they make a decision that should have been made months ago.

When an organization embraces digitalization in innovation using the right solution, it can:

  • Analyze potential combined revenues and profits of various combinations of projects
  • Determine the resources and budgets necessary for success
  • Score the viability of these combinations.

In a business environment that moves faster than ever, the power to look ahead is a non-negotiable aspect of success.

The best companies are digitalizing innovation management tools because the window for accurate decision-making continues to shrink. Bringing innovation tools together in a single source of truth positions these companies to look back, look ahead, and make sense of their data. It also allows repeated re-assessment of the decisions and the company’s portfolio so that the tuning of the portfolio is not a one-time effort requiring much work but rather something happening continuously and without too much effort; it becomes part of the regular monthly or quarterly cycle.

Learn how Sopheon helps Novelis, the world’s leading producer of flat-rolled aluminum products and largest recycler of aluminum, achieve greater speed-to-market and profitability for its sustainable product portfolio investments. And hear a deeper discussion on the topic on the Innovation+ Talks podcast.

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