Here at futurethink, we’ve been researching various smartphone applications to feature in our newest resource list on mobile tools that can help support your innovation strategy. These applications focus on features ranging from capturing ideas on the go, connecting and collaborating with various project members, to cloud storage systems, and brainstorming tools. This got us thinking; what would our ideal innovation focused smartphone application look like? While applications that try to be everything for everyone are generally doomed to mediocrity, if we had unlimited resources to design the ideal innovation application, here is where we would start.
Whenever we think about innovation, we consider the four cornerstones of our innovation framework; Strategy, Climate, Process, and Ideas. Treating innovation like any other business initiative (with an eye on results, growth, and profits), encouraging companywide participation, and creating a process to bring the best ideas to market are essential components in any successful innovation initiative.
The futurethink app would help focus an organization’s innovation efforts in a top down manner so that every employee or project member knows exactly where their focus should lie. For this purpose, we like the features the project management tool Basecamp provides including collaborative web-based documents, milestone management, time tracking, and a messaging system. Using our app to connect to a similar service would allow managers to submit proposals, set clear goals, and encourage every project member to contribute novel ideas no matter where they are.
Another component of our application would consist of an online cloud storage system that easily syncs with all other project members. Similar to Evernote, our app would not only be able to upload notes, pictures, and audio messages to the cloud, but it would also have the ability to sort through the media via text recognition software and make it easy for anyone to retrieve and use. This component would act as a great idea submission channel for people that are far apart or for concepts that are difficult to put into words.
Finally, we believe that employee participation can be further encouraged and made more fun by incorporating some principles from the gaming industry. Millions of hours are spent every week upgrading player’s abilities on massive online multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft, so surely some of the reward features the game has can be introduced to the business world. A fun application doing just that is EpicWin, which turns life’s boring tasks into quests worth points that can be used to upgrade your character. The futurethink app would feature such a reward system set up by the organization so that points can be used for something more tangible.
Mobile phones are projected to become the primary way people connect to the web, and we believe that the freedom they provide will spur many innovative ideas given the right tools. An application consisting of a collaborative platform connecting project teams to management, a cloud storage system for sharing ideas and keeping inventories of inspiration, combined with a new way of encouraging participation borrowed from video games will prove to be a helpful tool in any company’s innovation arsenal. Let us know what smartphone applications have helped your innovation efforts.