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IdeaScale Delivers Leading Innovation Management Software Platform For The Enterprise, Government, And Education

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Below is our recent interview with Rob Hoehn, CEO of IdeaScale:

Q: Rob, can you tell us something more about IdeaScale?

A: IdeaScale is an innovation management platform – meaning companies and organizations can use the software to run crowdsourcing campaigns with their employees, partners, customers, or citizens. What’s a crowdsourcing campaign? Companies have a problem they want to solve or a new trend that they’d like to explore and they ask for ideas or information to help respond to it. People submit ideas, others vote on them, rate them, develop them and the best ideas become new products, processes, market insights, and more.

Q: Can you tell us something more about your solutions?

A: Well, we keep talking about the fourth industrial revolution – a revolution driven by information and an accelerated pace of change. I mean, it took 75 years for the telephone to reach 50 million users and it took Angry Birds 35 days to do the same thing. The rules have changed, the infrastructure is vastly different and companies need to run to keep up.

In order to keep pace, organizations are developing innovation departments. And these new innovation departments are looking to move faster and more efficiently. They want to organize their new ideas, find advocates to help them explore and take action on them, and make sure that’s what working is rapidly adopted by everyone and what’s not working is dropped just as swiftly.

So that’s the driving need around which we’ve built our software: access to as large a crowd as possible and increasing the number of advocates you have for a new idea so that you have the ability to organize and act on information as swiftly as possible.

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Q: What is your story and mission?

A: Well, a couple of us were co-founders in the market research space and we kept hearing this piece of feedback from our customers: when it came to surveys, they were able to get answers to the questions that they knew to ask, but what about gathering data on all of the questions that they didn’t think to ask? We realized that organizations wanted real time information (both quantitative and qualitative) in their blind spots, so we decided to launch ideation communities, where it was easier for people to share new ideas and for decision makers to validate and take action on those new ideas.

But our mission has shifted slightly since we started out. We really want to help shape the future of work. We believe that people will be defined far less by their job description in the future, but instead by their ability to solve problems and deliver solutions. We want to make it easier for companies and potential employees to function in this space by creating transparent solution spaces where people can collaborate.

Q: How exactly does you platform work?

A: IdeaScale is a cloud-based system. When a company buys a subscription, they can launch their own community and they control who has access to all or part of the conversations that occur there. They decide what subjects will be addressed and invite people to join the community.

Once someone joins the community and finds a problem that captures their attention, they share an idea. The community offers feedback through comments, insights, and voting to further refine and prioritize the idea. Leaders and stakeholders further evaluate the idea using criteria that makes sense for their business. Teams prototype, test, and deliver on the best ideas and share results. All of this activity takes place transparently so that anyone in the community can search for any topic and see all of the activity related to it and participate in the process.

Q: What makes IdeaScale unique?

A: Apart from some of our product differentiators (we are the most secure of any idea management software out there and in addition to the system, our customers get access to a proven community of practice that they can use to level-up their skills), well, I think IdeaScale is also committed to proving that you can be a profitable, growing company while still maintaining ethical business practices. We are working to become carbon neutral, we have high commitments to equality, diversity, and workplace wellbeing. We believe in voting, for example, and we always give our employees the day off on election day and many of us volunteer at the polls that day. It is one of the qualities that we’re looking for on our team: social responsibility and a joy in helping others make the world a little bit better.

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Q: What are your plans for next six months?

A: Our innovation managers tell us that one of the biggest challenges they face is a lack of time, so we’re trying very hard to find even more ways to make systems like IdeaScale efficient. For example, IdeaScale has a dedicated machine learning discipline that uses natural language processing to simplify numerous aspects of the innovation process; from augmenting ideas with meta-data, to in-app coaching, to identifying promising ideas, and linking similar ideas. This will continue to be a focus over the next three years.

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