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Frameworks & Methods | Innovation Strategy | Portfolio Management

The 7 Dimensions to Prioritize Your Innovation Efforts

In this article, we’ll unpack the seven critical dimensions upon which organizations should prioritize their innovation efforts, as recommended by Gartner®. According to Gartner, "these dimensions can be combined into innovation portfolio planning models, such as the Three Horizons Model, which can be used to balance multiple objectives", making it a practical innovation methodology.

The process of innovation, be it developing a new product offering, investing in novel technology, or acquiring a startup, is a complex process that requires multiple stakeholders. From CTOs to executives to analysts, these parties may have different ideas about what constitutes innovation. In your organization, you need to understand what type of innovation you wish to apply, the scope of the project and which stakeholders can help optimize that process through prioritizing the most critical elements.

Understanding the 7 Dimensions of Innovation Focus

The innovation methodology suggested by Gartner outlays seven key dimensions where organizations need to focus, as shown in Figure 1. It is important to note that “the alternatives along each dimension should not be viewed as mutually exclusive but as a set of options from which to formulate an appropriate innovation portfolio. ’’

The two categories of the seven dimensions are Organizational and Program/Initiative.

Gartner: The 7 dimensions of innovation focus include novelty, market impact, timing, scale, focus, participation and breadth target

The Organizational Level refers to "choices about where businesses are focusing their innovation targets". Gartner® identified the key organization-level dimensions as asking the following critical questions about an organization’s innovation strategy:

■ “Novelty: Is the intent to adapt existing technologies and approaches to the organization’s needs or to invent fundamentally new capabilities?”

■ “Market impact: Should the organization enhance its ongoing products and services or target new product and service development?”

■ “Timing: What is the time horizon for delivering value, and is the ultimate objective to deploy a working solution within half a year or rather to drive strategic value over the next three years?”

The Program/Initiative Level, on the other hand, refers to the "choices about where each specific innovation program, function, or initiative should focus so that collectively the programs cover innovation targets for the organization’’. The dimensions are as follows:

Focus: "Most organizations target internal processes and operations, customer experience as well as products and services. However, these do not need to be led by one program." The Gartner® report highlights that focus areas such as employee experience, or other critical aspects of internal operations such as talent management or supply chains are also useful areas for innovation that can get specific attention.

Participation: According to Gartner® divides team members in innovation projects between “Doers” - those who run experiments and conduct evaluations, and “Enablers” - team members who ostensibly support and sometimes provide financial backing to innovation projects. It’s important to ascertain whether your team has the different skill sets to be either a doer or an enabler.

Breadth: "Some teams are responsible for innovation within their own area, while others are formed as a resource for innovation around the organization." Understanding breadth of the innovation objective allows teams to not “boil the ocean” but understand where they wish to make the most impact.

So how can you and your team optimize your innovation strategy once you’ve decided which dimensions best fit your organization?

Using the ITONICS Innovation OS to optimize your innovation activities 

The ITONICS Innovation Operating System supports innovation leaders such as adidas, Audi, CISCO, KPMG, Johnson & Johnson, Mondelez, and SAP to shape the future by providing a systematic framework and collaborative platform to steer innovation efforts.

At ITONICS, we believe a critical factor in optimizing your innovation activities involves consistent information-sharing and leveraging a single point of truth to encourage 'knowledge exchange'. Our innovation software provides this solution to empower teams to take the next step in their innovation journey. Our AI-powered platform helps companies to identify trends and emerging technologies, arrive at new business opportunities, make confident decisions, and drive actionable growth strategies.

We believe that the methodology used to rate trends and emerging technologies in our software are aligned with the seven dimensions by Gartner. ‘Time to Market’, ‘Potential Impact’, and ‘Strategic Fit’ are just a few of the metrics used to evaluate drivers of change at ITONICS.

Users are able to identify the most impactful trends and emerging technologies, build a collaborative workspace, steer innovation portfolios and develop detailed innovation roadmaps to implement innovation strategies whilst effectively guided by the Gartner® methodology.


GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Gartner, Define Innovation Along 7 Dimensions to Prioritize Your Innovation Efforts, Jackie Fenn, Peter Skyttegaard, Refreshed 6 May 2022, Published 3 December 2020.