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3 qualities of innovative companies: Lessons learned from Steve Jobs

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Drew Marshall, Principal, Primed Associates
When Steve Jobs resigned as Apple's CEO last week, it seemed he was taking with him everything that makes Apple the innovative powerhouse that it is today. Or did he? Apple is arguably the #1 poster child for innovation. But was it all a result of Steve Jobs' genius, or rather the culture of innovation he's developed over time?

Our bloggers got into an interesting discussion about this with Drew Marshall, our latest podcast guest. Drew is the Principal of Primed Associates, a consulting firm that helps clients improve the culture of innovation in their organizations.

He believes there are three qualities that make up an innovative company. But is having a charismatic leader one of them? I won't spill the beans here. Hit play below to find out Drew's take!

B2B executives, are you seeing these barriers to innovation in your company?

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Our latest white paper about B2B innovation references some interesting industry research reports, one of which comes from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It's been working with Businessweek to conduct annual global surveys of senior executives on their innovation practices. I thought their latest report would make a great topic for our B2B Innovation blog series, so here we go!

The report, “Innovation 2010: A Return to Prominence -- and the Emergence of a New World Order,” posed many interesting questions to executives, and I encourage you take some time to look it over when you can.

One question that drew my attention in particular was, "what are the biggest obstacles you face when it comes to generating a return on your investments in innovation?" This is a prime question I've been talking about lately with executives at B2B companies, which is why it caught my eye.

Many of the challenges executives have told me jive with the BCG report. So I thought it was worth sharing these findings with you, and seeing if you're experiencing something similar in your organization. Perhaps this is an emerging or developing trend we need to be paying attention to.

What does innovation mean to you?

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A little bit ago, we started a new blog series called B2B Innovation to help companies in the B2B high-tech sector understand what innovation is, why it's important today, and how they can get started putting together a sophisticated innovation initiative. So, moving along today with our series, we thought the next question to address is, what is innovation?

It might sound really basic but it's actually a very interesting and thought-provoking question. Innovation means different things to different people depending on their role, company, industry, markets, competitive set, and the problem they are trying to address.

In a commoditized industry where competition is fixed, innovation might be all about operational efficiency. An example is Ford introducing the notion of an assembly line at a time when the market was exploding. The question was how to get automobiles in the hands of as many people as possible at low price points that the masses could afford, and the assembly line answered that question.

Why information management is top of mind for an HP research analyst

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Rounding out our cast of SLA interviewees we have Sarah Shulhafer, Research Analyst with Hewlett-Packard.

We posted our podcast with Sarah last week and heard about her role within HP as an information professional, what challenges she is foreseeing in meeting clients needs, and how she plans to overcome them.

In case you missed it, skip back over to our podcast or read our transcript below.

Janelle: Greetings, everyone. I'm Janelle Kozyra, blogger for Inmagic. I'm at the SLA 2011 Conference and I am with Sarah Shulhafer. Sarah, what company are you with and what role do you have there?

Sarah: I'm a Research Analyst with Hewlett-Packard.

Janelle: And what brings you to the show this year?

CMSWire and Information Today like the idea of IdeaNet

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The public and pundits like the idea of IdeaNetCMSWire's Barb Mosher recently wrote an article breaking down how IdeaNet supports B2B product innovation. According to Barb, "many believe that involving customers in the product idea process is the perfect way to ensure that you are building the products customers want. Kind of obvious, I know, but it's still not common place in many organizations. Applications like IdeaNet may be the answer to changing that."

ASAE 2011 going strong in St. Louis

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When in St. Louis, have an ice cream cone. It
was invented at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
The Inmagic sales crew arrived in St. Louis over the weekend for ASAE 2011. And I have to say, if there was any doubt we weren't in the right place, well, one look around dispelled it all.

ASAE has clearly made its mark on St. Louis. The organization has a welcome table at the airport. As we were driving into downtown St. Louis, a huge ASAE billboard welcomed us to the show. All the streets around the convention center are adorned with ASAE flags. Pretty cool!

More digital ink for IdeaNet

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More great coverage of IdeaNet! We interviewed Terri Griffith, Ph.D., Professor of Management at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University a few months ago, where she highlighted the importance of social media technologies. Not long after our interview, we saw that she had written about idea management software for GigaOm. With the impending release of IdeaNet, we let her know about our latest technology. The result is a sparkling article about our approach to B2B collaboration.

Dr. Griffith applauds IdeaNet's simple yet effective design and, "thinks the combination of the application’s features and the power of customization to match particular workflows and communities is sure to make IdeaNet a player in the growing innovation management ecosystem." Pop on over to Dr. Griffith's review to see what else she has to say.

How to evaluate idea management systems

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Like nearly all technologies, idea management systems are not created equal. Ideally, an idea management system should help you collect, manage, discuss, and leverage the creative ideas from customers and employees to drive innovation.

However, many idea management systems lack crucial functionality that hinder you from optimally generating and managing product enhancements.

In talking with our customers, several major features and functionalities have continually come up in conversation as crucial parts of their idea management technology approach. We thought it would be useful to put them together in a checklist that you can easily refer to when you go about doing your own research and evaluation of idea management systems.

I hope it gives you some guidance to ensure you get all the important capabilities you need to support your innovation process. You can download the checklist now from our website by going to the IdeaNet page and clicking the checklist on the left side.

And as you're evaluating and testing new technologies, let us know if we're missing anything on this list, or if you think something should be changed. We love getting input!

HP research analyst tells her #1 information management goal

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I'm rounding out our interviews from SLA 2011 today with our final victim: Sarah Shulhafer, Research Analyst at HP. Our blogging team got a slice of Sarah's life as an information professional with HP, including the biggest need her division's clients have today, and her plan for meeting it. Tune in below. Thanks, Sarah, for talking with us!

Going to ASAE 2011? Enter to win "Open Community" while you're there!

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If you're an association professional, here's a book that should be on your reading list: "Open Community" by Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer. It's a handy read to help any association professional use social media technologies to support their online community-building efforts. And we're making it real easy to get it.

We're giving away six copies at the ASAE 2011 conference -- three on Sunday, Aug. 7, and three on Monday, Aug. 8.

To enter, all you have to do is come to Inmagic's booth, #311, and have your badge scanned or leave us your business card. That's all. You're entered to win!

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