Ideawake’s Collaboration Tools Help Companies Identify, Solve Issues

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can propose ideas to address it. (It’s also possible to bypass the challenge stage and post a new, out-of-the-blue idea, the company says.)

When sharing a challenge or idea for the first time, the user gives it a title and brief description, and can also estimate the impact he or she believes it will have on the company’s bottom line.

Users can share new topics company-wide, or target a specific team or group of departments. The next step is for co-workers—and people at client organizations, if the company authorizes it—to weigh in. Users can like (or “up-vote,” in Ideawake parlance) ideas, and comment on them. An organization with thousands of employees might have its executives review only the ideas that have gotten the most positive response, Ideawake says.

It’s possible to post a challenge or idea anonymously, according to company materials.

Ideawake has configured its software so that when someone comments on an idea, its originator receives an email notification—similar to how Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) can be set up to trigger alerts when someone likes or replies to your post.

Skonord says Ideawake projects its revenues will grow more than threefold from 2017 to 2018.

Ideawake was originally called Inventalator, and focused on “open innovation” by creating a digital forum where inventors could share concepts for new products, and allow others to comment on them. The company then made a shift, narrowing the scope of the software to address the wants and needs of a single organization. (Ideawake participated in the Wisconsin startup accelerator Gener8tor following the pivot and name change.)

Given its roots, Skonord says, his company’s tools are flexible, and “can be used just as easily for open innovation” as they can at companies that want only their employees to have access to their idea forum.

Big corporations have reaped major payoffs by welcoming comments from the community, as well as new ideas from the ranks of company employees.

The consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble (NYSE: PG) is known for its “Connect + Develop” program, in which it looks outside the company for help in improving its beauty, grooming, packaging, and cleaning products, among others.

Another large company that consistently appears at or near the top of innovation rankings is Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL). The Web search and advertising giant has for years encouraged employees to spend one day a week—or 20 percent of their working hours, across multiple days—working on side projects. (Some former Google employees have claimed the company doesn’t always practice what it has preached regarding the “20 percent time” rule.)

The trend is that companies want to get their employees more involved in thinking about the overall vision for, and direction of, the organization, Skonord says. As a result, more CEOs are encouraging their workers to step back from the minutiae of their day-to-day projects and think about the big picture, he says.

When someone has a “light bulb” moment, Ideawake wants to be the place where she goes to jot down the idea, and starts to build on it. Easier than circulating a Post-It Note, anyway.

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