What is innovation management?

Innovation management is a strategic business approach that includes the capture, planning, organisation, promotion, and control of innovative ideas.

Managing innovation can be a difficult task. In fact, there are those that argue that innovation can’t be managed—it depends too heavily on epiphany and inspiration to be plannable. However, most modern business leaders believe that by establishing the right strategies and processes, innovation can be predicted, guided. And that by doing so, they can create real business value and better serve their employees and customers. Once an idea has been vetted and approved, it can then be planned for development and delivery.

More than that, innovation in business doesn’t only refer to the lightning flashes of creativity; it addresses all the steps in ideating and introducing useful concepts, products, services, strategies etc. These are ideas that exist to create positive change for a business and set it apart as unique from competitors. In most cases, businesses should look at their strategies as falling into one of three categories: running the business, growing the business, and innovating the business. Innovation management plays a role in each of these buckets. As such, it is not only an extremely broad term, but is also vitally important to ongoing success.


Innovation is almost universally recognised as a positive for any business. Organisations want to be disruptive, setting new bars and pioneering new ideas. But innovation, in and of itself, is not beneficial unless it is capable of benefiting employees, stakeholders, or customers.

Innovation management depends on breaking innovation down into something quantifiable and measurable. Once this has been accomplished, businesses can start to see the actual benefits of innovation management and can begin to work towards establishing effective management practices.

Top benefits of innovation management include the following:

Capturing new ideas 

The most obvious benefit of innovation management is an increased ability to collect and organise valuable new ideas. Innovation management tools make it easy to gather these insights from across the organisation in a single location, tracking and organising them for quick review.

Identifying highest-potential concepts

There will always be risk in trying something new. Innovation management recognises and accepts this reality, focusing on reducing risk as much as possible and identifying the ideas that have the greatest chance of succeeding. This allows businesses to invest more time and money into the innovations that are most likely to pay off.

Reducing costs and improving returns

Outdated ideas and ineffective processes generally all have something in common: They are not cost effective. Taking a clear, calculated look at new innovations helps businesses identify the areas where they are overspending, and replace outdated concepts with those that are more likely to generate a better ROI.

Attracting top talent

The best employees are attracted to businesses that push the envelope. Organisations that are known for their innovation generally find that they are approached by a higher calibre of prospective hire. And because innovative companies naturally appeal to innovative talent, these new hires continue to promote positive change within the business itself.

Resolving recurring issues

Recurring issues tend to become more accepted over time, to the point where organisations may continue to employ inefficient work arounds or simply tolerate losses rather than continue to run into walls with ineffective solutions. Innovation management promotes new approaches to resolving these ongoing problems, allowing businesses to readdress recurring problems and find better working solutions more effectively.

Inspiring engagement

True innovation just isn’t possible without including the workforce. Understanding the employee perspective and working with staff to crowdsource ideas provides unique insights. It also allows employees to feel more included in major decisions, and promotes forward thinking, ongoing communication, and inclusion. The end result is happier, more engaged employees who know that their opinions matter.

Keeping users informed

Effective innovation management allows users to not only aggregate ideas, but also keep track of ideas that are in the process of being reviewed, approved, or executed. Innovation management tools include alert systems, signalling users whenever there are status changes to in-process ideas.

Innovation depends heavily on an influx of positive, new ideas. But creativity is only the first step. Effective innovation management relies on established processes to ensure that ideas have the best possible chance of becoming successful innovations.

Although different organisations may take slightly different approaches, the standard innovation management process follows this basic structure:

Graphic depicting the innovation management process


As previously mentioned, creativity is the first step of innovation management. But once an idea exists, it needs to be accounted for and placed on the journey towards successful innovation. Working within an innovation management tool, the idea’s originator submits the idea, creating a digital record that will be used to evaluate and manage the idea through the entire process.


Once submitted, the idea is then stored within the system, where authorised users can easily access it, retrieve it, and collaborate on it. Proper idea storage is essential to innovation management, providing a single, centralised location where new ideas can be vetted and pursued.


Having a central location to share and manage ideas is a good start, but once ideas are stored, they need to be correctly organised into relevant categories. Categorising ideas helps ensure that possible innovations are being reviewed by the right stakeholders.


With the ideas organised into relevant categories, they can now be reviewed and discussed. Top innovation management tools include reliable collaboration options, in which submitters and stakeholders can ask questions, provide feedback, make suggestions, and even cast votes for the ideas they would most like to see move forward.

Manage and evaluate

The collaboration step helps weed out high-risk/low-reward ideas and gives everyone involved a chance to refine top suggestions into something workable. With the ideas clarified and distilled, stakeholders can perform a final evaluation before pushing towards development, and idea managers can make the final decisions on whether to approve or reject specific ideas. Approved ideas are attached to tasks, and the innovation management tool can continue to track the idea through the different development stages, providing status updates across the entire lifecycle.

ServiceNow IT Business Management provides the tools, resources, and support needed to enable positive change and create increased value from enterprise initiatives. And, with built-in Innovation Management solutions, engaging employees and encouraging impactful innovation has never been easier or more effective.

The ServiceNow Innovation Management app features intuitive controls, where users can submit ideas, track ideas they’ve submitted, view and discuss ideas submitted by others, filter ideas by state and category, and vote on the ideas they most wish to see implemented.

As an accessible, central location, the Innovation Management app allows for easy and effective collaboration through interactive comment boards. Machine learning surfaces similar ideas to help with deduplication. Approved ideas can also be quickly converted into essential tasks, so that the best new innovations may be fast tracked, creating real value for organisations, employees, and the customers who depend on them.

ServiceNow is changing how businesses approach innovation management. See what it can do for you.

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