I had the chance to talk with … Jim Todhunter and the team at Invention Machine about the new product release they announced today. There are lot of things that I like in the release designed to help further Invention Machine’s ability to operationalize innovation. But what really struck me was the goal of this release to improve “Every Day Innovation” in a procedural, sustainable way.
What do they Do?
In short, and in my words, Invention Machine offers a software solution that helps manufacturers turn innovation into a repeatable process. This is what I like to call “operationalizing innovation” as opposed to leaving innovation to chance. Invention Machine does this through a combination of:
- Task-oriented innovation workflows
- Packaged innovation, engineering and problem-solving tools and methodologies
- Innovation and engineering knowledge management and search
Invention Machine is a very unique company, and one that many have a hard time grasping exactly what they do. But what always strikes me is that they have a very impressive list of customers. I have had the chance to talk with quite a few of these customers, and they are all positive about what Invention Machine has done for them. So even if they are hard to understand, they are definitely worth a look.
So what is new in the release? There is quite a bit. Their Goldfire 5.5 launch adds new capabilities across the product line, and also introduces a new product called “Goldfire Insight.” The goal of this solution is to boost deployment of Goldfire to the “every day” innovators. Innovation comes in many forms, and Invention Machine is trying to extend their capabilities into every day engineering and innovation problem solving instead of just generating the big ideas or solving big, hairy problems. Jim Todhunter talks about the “little i” ind of innovation in addition to the “big I” type. Maybe one way to think of it is that Goldfire Insight helps the every day innovator stand on the shoulders of the master innovators to turn innovation into reality.
There are also new capabilities in the existing solutions. One of these capabilities is a question answering technology that helps innovators find the knowledge they need to get their jobs done without reinventing the wheel. There is also a new Knowledge Navigator that helps return knowledge in logical categories or “lenses,” providing order and intelligence to unstructured information and query results by leveraging Invention Machine’s strong semantic search capabilities.
There is also a new Research Guide that I am pretty interested in seeing in action at customers. The Research Guide not only helps capture engineering knowledge, it helps capture the innovation and decision-making process. Think of dynamically creating a “mind map” during a research or innovation project that documents the path you took (and links to the knowledge you uncovered) so you can go back and revisit it at a later time. This creates a new source of knowledge, by documenting the innovation process and the innovation path to create new knowledge. Pretty compelling. I liked the way Jim Todhunter explained it (possibly paraphrased):
Information -> enables -> Communities -> to perform -> Innovation -> which generates -> Information
So that’s what I hear from Invention Machine, I hope you found it useful. What do you think? What else should I have asked them?