Mindjet and Spigit to Merge Their Innovation Wares




My recent blog post discussed the increasing need for enterprise innovation management (EIM) software covering all of the innovation lifecycle stages, from strategic innovation planning via ideation and product portfolio management (PPM) and optimization to execution. In a recent survey conducted by Bain & Company, two-thirds of executives at companies generating over $100 million in revenue named innovation as one of their top three priorities. Yet, in that same survey, less than a quarter of the executives indicated that they believe their companies are effective innovators.

In a similar Accenture survey of large enterprise executives, 70 percent ranked innovation among their top five business priorities and said that a holistic process is key to successful outcomes (see this interesting related infographic). Today’s companies require a software platform that goes beyond social business in the workplace and helps them integrate innovation directly into their business processes.

With the exception of Sopheon’s solution that caters to the complete innovation life cycle, the EIM software market is still quite fragmented, with a plethora of small point solution providers, especially in the ideation space. Consolidation, with multiple vendors merging their “one trick pony” wares, seems inevitable. To that end, Mindjet, a provider of project-based collaboration software, and Spigit, an innovation management platform provider, recently announced their merger, creating a business platform that will manage innovation, from idea creation to opportunity selection to project completion.

Who/What is Mindjet?
Mindjet was founded in the late 1990s with a vision of enabling teams to work together and collaborate no matter where they are located. The idea was to make team collaboration on projects simple and smart by getting what is important—ideas—out front. The company, currently with about 300 employees worldwide, develops software for visualization of information (called “mind mapping”) and work management software that helps business teams work together on ideas, plans, and projects.

Mindjet’s flagship MindManager software is an information mapping tool, offering a user-friendly interface for quickly capturing, organizing, and sharing information. Teams can brainstorm and plan on virtual whiteboards, create and co-edit plans, share files, and keep everyone on the same page with real-time task and project management capabilities. MindManager can be implemented as a desktop version (for individuals and smaller teams) as well as in the cloud, and it integrates with the most-used enterprise apps, including Microsoft Office, Project, SharePoint, and Yammer, as well as Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, and SkyDrive. The solution works with customers’ current IT investments, as it can be implemented on whatever Web-enabled devices, including tablets and smartphones, that its employees use.

However, MindManager has mainly been good for brainstorming in a small group on a limited set of ideas (coming from certain team members), as the product has no crowdsourcing, social, behavioral science, game mechanics, collaborative decision models, and or capabilities that promote the first rule of brainstorming—bring on as many ideas as possible from wherever and extend innovation to other constituents.

Over the years, Mindjet’s focus has evolved from a sole focus on brainstorming, planning, and productivity to include project management, recently introducing Mindjet ProjectDirector, a unified software as a service (SaaS) project management suite for teams. In the same vein as other peer social project management offerings such as Clarizen, Deltek Kona, Asana, Podio, Do.com, etc., Mindjet ProjectDirector combines Mindjet’s mind mapping and planning capabilities, file management, and task management to give teams a way to collaborate on projects throughout the duration of a project, from brainstorming on goals and gaining buy-in to project execution.

MindManager has over two million global users that can brainstorm and plan on virtual whiteboards, create and co-edit plans, share files, and keep everyone on the same page with real-time task and project management. Customers include IBM, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, among others. The MindManager solution is used by an impressive 83 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Mindjet has offices in the U.S., Japan, and across Europe. In 2012 Mindjet was the most awarded collaboration company, winning eight high-profile awards.

What Does Spigit Bring?
The combination of Mindjet and Spigit is being positioned as an enterprise platform that drives business results through repeatable business innovation. For several years, Spigit’s focus has been leveraging crowdsourcing, game mechanics, and big data analytics to help companies invent disruptive products, generate new revenue streams, build an innovation culture, reduce costs, and significantly improve employee and customer engagement. Over 200 well-known companies (with nearly two million users worldwide and over 3,000 brands) in the retail, healthcare, financial, technology, government, insurance, utilities, and pharmaceutical industries use Spigit. Also based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Spigit offers the following products:

  1. Spigit Engage is an enterprise platform for building internal employee innovation communities or external communities with customers and partners. There are integrations of Spigit Engage for SharePoint, Yammer, Jive, and Salesforce Chatter. Additionally, ideas can be shared using popular social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook (the similarity with MindManager is striking here), as well as the mobile iOS and Android options. (The company just released a new generation of Spigit Engage with increased engagement features.)

  2. Spigit Fusion is a workflow engine built into Spigit Engage, used for managing the evaluation and implementation feasibility of ideas generated in Spigit Engage. It combines crowdsourcing with a back-end evaluation system that automates the process of bringing together people with the expertise, experience, and authority needed for decision-makin


In addition, Spigit offers strategic innovation services, including innovation architecture, community management, and site design, and RapidSpigit, which is a facilitated collaborative event used to crowdsource and assess ideas on a pre-chosen innovation challenge. Spigit’s gamification concept/science/method is quite different than those of plain badging/kudos apps like Work.com, Badgeville, etc. The latter vendors stick to badge-awarding, while Spigit offers much more—including a reputation algorithm, virtual currency, clock countdown (i.e., an idea cannot be debated forever), leader board, store, and a stock trading game.

In addition, Spigit is much different from traditional social platforms such as Jive and Yammer. Most "social dial tone" platforms like Yammer and Jive provide a “social water cooler” environment. You go to the water cooler not to do a specific task, but to take a break, and when you bump into co-workers at the cooler you may get some nuggets of information through serendipity that you couldn't get otherwise. Spigit concentrates on using social capabilities as an enabling mechanism, but its goal is to provide business outcomes through collaboration to solve specific actionable business challenges. In other words, Spigit leaves nothing to chance, and it has the structure for this—constructs like challenges, idea stages, and workflow—whereas most enterprise social platforms stop at groups, discussions, blogs, and like types of functionality. As mentioned earlier, Spigit adds repeatable innovation outcomes on top of Yammer, SharePoint, Jive, etc., and it is the #1 app in the Yammer app ecosystem.

Another impressive Spigit feature is Pulse Rate, a score between 1 and 100 based on idea views/votes, approval ratings, and reviews. Pulse Rate is a score computed to indicate the “vital signs” of an idea based on views, votes, approval ratings (weighted by reputation) and evaluations. In essence, it lets you know the popularity of an idea rather than a simple metric of number of votes.

In 2012, Inc. Magazine listed Spigit as the number one fastest growing private software company in California and the fourth fastest growing company in the private software sector in the United States. Spigit continued to build upon its momentum in 2013 with record revenue growth. However, Spigit had been focused on the standalone ideation market—the company has claimed a lot of mindshare in the innovation management solution space—and a big question is whether companies in the space can continue to get funding to support their operational pace. Even companies with a limited agenda around ideation soon realize that products before or after an ideation tool’s place in the innovation cycle are necessary to make it a robust enterprise class-solution within the broader innovation lifecycle most companies need to manage.

Mindjet + Spigit = Support for Broader and Repeatable Innovation Cycle
Following the merger, Mindjet and Spigit will integrate (with about 400 employees as a result) and Spigit's executive team will assume leadership roles within the newly expanded Mindjet organization led by Mindjet CEO Scott Raskin. The Mindjet and Spigit integrated company’s mission will be to help companies innovate to identify their best ideas and then manage those opportunities to completion. Businesses can use crowdsourcing, mind mapping, big data analytics, and game mechanics technology to create and develop the very best ideas (see Figure 1), and then bring those ideas to market with a purpose-driven project management suite.

The two companies have certainly done some serious due diligence, at least based on the prepared talking points around the facts of the merger. The resulting product portfolio for the company is shown below, and Mindjet-Spigit’s philosophy on how social business solutions for innovation should be architected is captured in the “Vision to Action Lifecycle” white paper.

mindjet-spigit-vision-to-action-graphic-1_small.jpg

Spigit has had some presence outside North America, and its consulting and implementation partners have included Capgemini and Isid, but the vendor should benefit from Mindjet’s global infrastructure. It seems as though the main play in the short to medium term is to cross-sell Spigit to Mindjet’s large customer base and expand Mindjet’s solution from brainstorming, visualization, and collaboration deeper into ideation and new product development and introduction (NPD&I) via Spigit, and reach up into organizations beyond Mindjet’s core market of individuals and small teams. In order for this strategy to work, there should be continued investment in R&D and go-to-market on all of the product lines, and certainly ensuring funding should be a major focus for the merged company. This becomes more achievable with the combined scale of the organizations.

Some pundits might have expected the Spigit acquirer to be a project portfolio management (PPM) or product lifecycle management (PLM) vendor with the goal of expanding Spigit’s footprint beyond ideation. But the idea management within rigid PLM processes is not necessarily right for everyone. Mindjet is used by many early stage product development companies, and only when they need repeatable or scalable processes does PLM become more attractive. On the other hand, for the top three PLM players—Dassault Systemes, Siemens PLM Software, and PTC—the investment priority is still in heavy engineering (simulation, systems engineering, etc.) and downstream processes expansion (manufacturing, field services, etc.) rather than in the upstream processes such as ideation.

Even though Mindjet-Spigit does not have the product portfolio optimization, review, etc. parts that Sopheon has for investment funding decisions and optimization to achieve business objectives, this merger is certainly expanding the two companies’ capabilities via ideation from strategic planning to project execution. Only time will tell what other expansion avenues Mindjet might explore down the road.
 
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