Ideas on the Future of Ideas

As the economy stumbles its way into recovery, anecdotal evidence suggests the ‘ideation' market has found its voice already, with discrete idea management software firms reporting increased activity if not profitability.

However, the capabilities of stand-alone ideation tools are largely commoditized. Each one has good implementation examples and brings experience of success. So with so little to choose between them today, what might you be looking for in an idea tool of the future? Read on and dream.

How about ideas that can never get lost? The problem with search engines is that you need to use them. With the enormous volumes of data around today (‘Big' Data just doesn't do it), it's more true than ever that something is effectively lost if you don't think to search for it. You could find that idea that you had a couple of years ago – it might be the right time just about now – but it goes missing for lack of someone looking for it. But what if your ideation system could recognize new opportunities for old ideas and remind you without the need to remember to search for it?

Now here's an idea – what if my idea was self-aware? It knows enough about itself to know it's been done before even if the terms I use haven't been used before – matching some sort of ‘aboutness' instead of dull, old keywords.

Then it would be a small step to have an idea that already knows how unique it is. It could give you an index of your freedom to operate, highlighting where to tread carefully to avoid competitive patent issues.

How about pre-idea support? Where can I get ideas that no-one else has had? Is that even possible without time travel?

And then there's the tool that suggests what will combine with my idea to make it unique and increase its potential value. It should be combinations that no one has done before of course.

Can my ideation tool become a member of my team, asking, suggesting and probing for ideas or opportunities just like a human does? And make sure you avoid pop-ups, junk mail and other intrusions into my workspace. If it's a team member, my ideation tool will bump into me at the coffee machine…

We all talk about campaigns being used to provoke ideas that match your business strategy. But will it work the other way around? How can my ideation tool support and advise business strategy? What about a suggestion of the best collaborators on a market opportunity or regulatory obligation? Or perhaps it will highlight when you're behind the competition and making suggestions as to what to do about it – ideas, topics, partners, collaborators or even potential acquisitions to fill your knowledge gaps quickly.

Are these fanciful futures? Actually much of this technology exists today, just waiting for the visionary to make it happen in the workplace. Except the bit about the coffee machine, perhaps.

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