This article unpacks why a systematic approach to scalability is critical for sustainable business growth, best-practice growth tactics, and the top five features of the ITONICS Innovation Operating System that will help maximize your ability to innovate at scale.
Where does the value lie in innovation? An inspiring vision and sound strategy are essential, but are not intrinsically valuable on their own. New ideas fuel discovery and evolution, but are only a part of the picture. It is the ability to scale these new ideas and launch innovations at the right time, at the right magnitude, that can create true value and sustainable business growth.
In an analysis of 750 large companies over a ten-year period, Harvard Business Review found that the cases in which these companies achieved growth through game-changing and disruptive innovation were nearly zero. The only outlier: Apple. So, while we can’t all be Apple and succeed in repeatedly creating brand-new markets, the analysis suggests that large companies can instead grow by focusing on innovation at scale.
The same applies to organizations in the startup phase. McKinsey & Company analyzed US venture capital (VC) data to discover that two-thirds of value creation occurs through the scaling of new products and services. In the VC world, this relates to series C funding and later, as opposed to early-stage seed and series A and B funding.
In the innovation world, this means taking innovative concepts and turning them into practical solutions that can reach a larger audience or address broader challenges. By extending the reach and impact of innovation, organizations can capture more value over time, leading to more sustainable business growth.
What does it really mean to scale innovation?
Scaling innovation involves more than just expanding innovative ideas, products, or processes; it also encompasses scaling innovation management and fostering an innovation culture throughout your entire organization. This holistic approach requires concerted effort and careful planning to ensure that innovation becomes integral to your organization's DNA.
It's essential to establish effective innovation management processes and structures that can handle the increased complexity of more inputs (signals of change, trends, emerging technologies), more outputs (opportunities, ideas, projects), and more participants (employees, partners, external collaborators). By scaling innovation management capabilities, organizations can ensure that innovation becomes a sustainable and integral part of their identity and growth strategy.
5 features of the Innovation OS that enable scalability
Having a single operating system to centralize innovation intelligence and ensure alignment is essential to scaling innovation. The following five features in the ITONICS Innovation OS provide a platform for global teams to successfully scale innovation and drive growth systematically and sustainably.
1. Boost productivity with dedicated workspaces
An organization can reap immediate benefits from bringing its entire innovation ecosystem under one roof—or into one house. But if that house has no rooms, no designation of what purpose different spaces serve, then it’s likely that no space is being used productively. Scaling innovation in a house without structure is not only inefficient, it’s often chaotic and definitely unsustainable.
In the ITONICS Innovation OS, you can create multiple separate workspaces under the same organization. This functionality allows different teams or groups to own and structure their workspace according to their needs—a specific task, use case, or project. For instance, your organization could have dedicated workspaces for scouting, ideation, R&D, go-to-market strategy, or many other purposes. This segmentation helps focus efforts and boost productivity while promoting aspects of innovation culture like autonomy, intrapreneurship, and experimentation.
ITONICS workspaces provide flexibility and adaptability to changing requirements. Teams can adjust their workspaces without impacting the work of the rest of the organization but are also able to copy data across workspaces to break down informational silos. It is possible to control access levels, permissions, and privacy settings at the workspace level to ensure that the right people have access to the right information and that confidential information stays secure.
Create new workspaces in your Innovation OS, configured to your specific needs.
2. Empower stakeholders for meaningful engagement
Innovation within an organization thrives when roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and access to innovation-related data and tools is managed efficiently. This not only helps maintain order and control but also fosters a culture of accountability and collaboration within an organization.
As innovation initiatives grow, the ability to configure roles and permissions allows organizations to adapt to changing requirements. New roles can be created and permissions adjusted to accommodate expansion. Configurable permissions also support security, data protection, and compliance, which are imperative as organizations grow and scale their go-to-market initiatives.
In the ITONICS Innovation OS, you have the power to modify roles and permissions to reflect your company's established structure. This means you can align innovation responsibilities with your stakeholder groups effectively. Whether it's granting access to certain data, features, or functionalities, you can tailor the platform to ensure that every team member has the right level of access to perform their role optimally.
Configure and manage all your organization- and workspace-level roles in one place.
3. Scale out with open innovation
When it comes to innovation, it’s not only important to focus on scaling up. It is equally important to scale out. One way to do this is to embrace external perspectives and input through open innovation methods like crowdsourcing and broadcast search.
Open innovation is a collaborative problem-solving approach that leverages crowd knowledge and expertise. This includes partnerships with third-party stakeholders, for example, vendors, suppliers, customers, startups, individuals, etc.
The ITONICS Innovation OS enables you to set up ideation campaigns with external gateways to tap into collective intelligence beyond your organization's walls. This gateway is directly linked to the Innovation OS but lives as an external application form that can be customized and embedded into other web pages. When external collaborators submit the form, their ideas are captured in the platform to be further enriched, evaluated, and prioritized for execution.
Build custom external gateways to invite idea submissions from outside your organization.
4. Make knowledge accessible with multilingual interfaces
Large multinational organizations can benefit from a diversity of knowledge and perspectives. This is how many organizations build successful global brands with local impact—aligning with a shared vision while capturing important regional nuances and insights.
Empowering a globally distributed workforce to connect and exchange knowledge is proven to boost innovation. This requires a platform that not only brings people together but also makes shared innovation intelligence accessible in their native language.
With ITONICS, users can access out-of-the-box multilingual interfaces, including English, German, and French—and additional languages can be requested. The ability to contribute and understand innovation intelligence in one’s native language facilitates collaboration, effective communication, and alignment with local contexts to scale innovation efforts across diverse global teams.
Provide translations for different entities, properties, ratings, and email templates.
5. Sync the apps you use daily with API integrations
Based on a survey of 4,800 full-time employees, Gartner found that the average knowledge worker in 2023 uses eleven applications to complete their work. This is nearly double the number of applications used by workers in 2019, when the number was six. What this “application sprawl” has led to is greater difficulty in finding the right information or data when needed—a pain point reported by nearly half of the respondents.
It may not be practical or possible to cut back on the number of applications your company uses, as many applications are highly specialized and fit for purpose. However, integrating complementary applications in a central platform or operating system ensures that information is not lost. This streamlined process encourages more frequent and efficient engagement with innovation activities.
ITONICS allows for several API integrations, including Salesforce, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Jira, Tracxn, Crunchbase, and more. Seamlessly syncing third-party tools with your Innovation OS enhances the ability to spot synergies and make better data-driven decisions to innovate at scale.
Integrate your existing IT infrastructure seamlessly into the ITONICS Innovation OS.
Know what to speed up and scale wisely
In essence, speed and scalability are two sides of the same coin in innovation. Speed enables organizations to innovate quickly and respond to immediate needs, while scalability ensures that these innovations can be sustained, expanded, and adapted over the long term. A well-balanced approach to innovation considers both aspects to drive sustainable growth and competitive advantage.
ITONICS accelerates innovation intentionally by automating repeatable processes, incorporating smart features, and providing best-practice templates. These capabilities make sense of vast amounts of data quickly and reduce administrative effort to free up resources for scaling high-value strategic and creative work.
How large organizations scale innovation
Scaling innovation across a large, multinational organization presents significant challenges due to the complexities inherent in such sizable and diverse entities. Bureaucracy and organizational structure, communication challenges, resource constraints, and alignment are just some of the obstacles that large companies need to overcome.
Microsoft's 3 principles for scaling innovation
In our Innovation Rockstars podcast, we sat down with Nicholas McQuire, Director of Product Management, Strategic Missions and Technologies at Microsoft, to find out how an organization like Microsoft innovates. With over 220,000 employees operating in 190 countries, Microsoft is not immune to the cultural challenges of innovating at scale, according to McQuire. Aligning its immense, diverse, and geographically distributed workforce to a shared vision while cultivating a culture of creativity and intrapreneurship is a huge feat.
McQuire shares three key principles for how Microsoft unifies and infuses its innovation strategy across the organization to scale innovation for sustainable business growth.
- Vision: Communicate a company-wide vision for innovation. Embed it throughout every level and function of the organization as the foundation for cultivating a culture of innovation.
- Organization: Develop the necessary organizational capabilities to execute your vision. Ensure alignment across structures, processes, roles, resources, and measures. For example, Microsoft facilitates innovation from an organizational capacity by dedicating time and effort to running regular hackathons, at least four a year.
- Mindset: Nurture a growth mindset and promote continuous learning and knowledge sharing. Microsoft has even built growth mindset principles into dimensions of its reward systems. McQuire believes this growth mindset is related to the ability to accept and move forward from rejection, referring to the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang.
The key to an innovation mindset is in the culture we call a growth mindset. At Microsoft, we elevate learning, and kind of learn above everything that we do.
Another aspect of Microsoft's approach to scaling innovation is its application of McKinsey's Three Horizons model, or, as Microsoft calls it, full-spectrum innovation. McQuire explains how this full spectrum innovation allows Microsoft to create a centralized approach to innovation that can also be distributed not only across time horizons—balancing practical and visionary projects—but also across the organization with different teams dedicated to different focus areas. This approach enables Microsoft to scale innovation and explore new growth in a more strategic manner.
Drive sustainable business growth with ITONICS
A systematic approach to scalability is critical because it provides the structure and methodology necessary to manage and navigate the complexities of business growth. It promotes efficiency, quality, adaptability, and long-term viability—all of which are essential for sustainable business growth in a competitive and dynamic business environment.
The ITONICS Innovation OS scales easily from 10 to 10,000 innovators, centralizing all your foresight, ideation, and portfolio management activities on one collaborative platform. Whether your need is a team-specific and niche use case or managing organization-wide end-to-end innovation, the Innovation OS adapts easily to help you achieve sustainable business growth.
To learn more about scaling your innovation ecosystem with the #1 Innovation OS, get in touch with our innovation experts for a free demo!
See the ITONICS Innovation OS in action