In a digital age driven by the rapid pace of technology change and an increasingly powerful consumer, long-standing market leaders are looking to transforming themselves into more nimble and agile players who can innovate more quickly to remain relevant in the face of competition from disruptive start-ups. To be able to change course in response to market shifts – or better yet, to preempt those shifts and stay ahead of competitors – they need alignment of investments with strategic goals, access to shared and trusted real-time data, and collaborative teams that work cross-functionally with a focus on executing against those strategic goals. Yet, most do not have the necessary tools to support these capabilities.
One way companies are doing this is in partnership with global technology provider Sopheon Corporation and its flagship Accolade® software. Sopheon is the enterprise innovation management solution leader that effortlessly links and connects people, functional groups, systems and information, helping them to move beyond “islands of information” into an innovation environment that ensures enterprise-wide collaboration and alignment. The result is a more agile, transparent and efficient innovation culture, which ensures that organizations successfully execute on their plans, and bring the right products to market more quickly and with higher success rates.
The Ultimate Tool for Innovation & Business Agility
Launched in 2001, Sopheon’s Accolade software has today been implemented by over 250 customers − Fortune 500 organizations as well as smaller companies − and is used by more than 60,000 users in over 50 countries around the globe.
One of Sopheon’s primary strategies is to give customers the tools they need to make better investment decisions on key business and product initiatives, with the aim of improving performance, success rate and speed to market. This is especially important today, when most companies are moving more slowly than the markets they serve, and change can be difficult to implement, especially by large enterprises with disconnected systems and deeply entrenched processes. The threat to the incumbent leaders is real; Creative Destruction author Richard Foster has estimated that 75 percent of the S&P 500 firms will be replaced by 2027.
Sopheon does this by allowing clients to adopt modern, connected technology without abandoning their day-to-day tools of choice, which frequently include Microsoft Office products. This reduces the amount of time it takes to capture, manage and share the data required to move the company forward towards its growth goals.
Sopheon’s software has integrated seamlessly with Microsoft products from the start. Sopheon has been a Microsoft Gold Certified partner since 2004 and shortly thereafter was acknowledged by Microsoft as the “First to Market” solution partner for Office Project 2007. Sopheon was the first in the industry to introduce one-click PowerPoint integration to the enterprise software market in 2005. This capability enables the creation of a PowerPoint presentation on the fly leveraging existing data, information and images, saving hours spent building presentations from scratch and freeing that time up to be spent on more valuable activities.
Documents created in the course of daily work in Microsoft applications like Microsoft Word or Excel are captured by Accolade with a single click, making the data available to other Accolade users (as well as other Microsoft applications) for collaboration, reporting and decision making. This feature, which Sopheon calls Smart Document Integration, has minimized the complexity, time and rework required to manage data during the innovation process, simplifying and speeding the flow of information across the organization while delivering added insight and intelligence for improved decision making.
Accolade’s Smart Document integration saves users as much as 34 percent in time to create and manage data. It helps create a more integrated environment by using standard Office document templates that have two-way integration with Accolade. This allows users to work on the same technology platform, using their choice of Microsoft tools. It also enables users to input data into the system and get output to Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, or vice-versa, and save files to Accolade at the push of a button.
Sopheon is committed to supporting other technologies, but the company plans to remain firmly anchored in the Microsoft technology and stack.
Another strategy Sopheon has embraced is a market shift from “customization” toward “customer configurability” in their Accolade platform. The software provides out-of-the-box flexibility to support customers’ unique processes and internal governance, while also creating reporting and visual appealing layouts designed for each specific organization and their users. This allows business users to administer unique process models and reports without having to rely on external consultants or even the company’s own IT department.
Innovation Maturity is a Journey
As a leader in enterprise innovation management, Sopheon has faced plenty of challenges and lessons on its journey. Regarding the company’s market and customers, Sopheon has learned to map its offering to the innovation maturity of their customers. Whether a client is just beginning its innovation journey or is very mature and advanced in their processes and requirements, Sopheon has learned it is important to work with organizational leaders who understand the power of analytics enabled through improved visibility and transparency and who have a thirst for data-driven decision making.
However, there are still organizations that are not yet ready to take the transformational step of replacing traditional silos with cross-functional teams. This is where Sopheon works hand-in-hand with the client to help these companies ease their transition towards a digitalized business model. For example, an initial focus on leveraging the strong integration with popular Microsoft Office applications can help organizations become familiar with Accolade while maintaining the existing software that teams are already accustomed to using.
Signals of a Bright Future
Sopheon has reported continued record growth performance in recent years and has been shortlisted for Growth Company of the Year in this year’s UK Stock Market Awards. The company’s market differentiation continues to be validated. Sopheon is the only vendor recognized in three different Gartner Market Guides – for Strategy Execution Management Software; Innovation Management Tools; and Strategy and Innovation Roadmapping Tools – as well as in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Project Portfolio Management Worldwide. The capabilities called for in each of these respective reports are required to deliver on the promise of connecting strategic planning and operational execution.
In addition, Sopheon was named a Leader in the 2017 Forrester Wave™: Strategic Portfolio Management Tools. Recently, the company was also recognized by Consumer Goods Technology magazine, which named Sopheon as “Best in Category” in new product development and introduction as voted by readers. Collectively, these are major strategic milestones in establishing the credentials of both the company and the market.
Focused on growing Sopheon’s business, the company’s leadership expects continued growth in revenue, employee count, geographical coverage, services and partner network. Compared to just a few years ago, there is growing awareness and maturity in the market around the broad theme of enterprise innovation – from initial demand and idea collection through strategic alignment, portfolio management and optimization, and in-market product management. Sopheon’s subject matter expertise, combined with the adaptability of Accolade to meet the requirements of many different use cases and applications allowing customers to add value to their investment in the software, will serve the business well for years to come.
Like many other companies, one major challenge and opportunity facing Sopheon is keeping up with the swift changes their customers and markets require. The expert developers at Sopheon have made this a key priority and have created a release cadence that supports their ever-changing market. The company uses Agile methodology to release new versions of Accolade at a predictable pace, multiple times per year, in order to map to the breakneck speed of change happening within the world’s biggest and most complex enterprises.
A zest for learning, patience, vision toward a bigger goal, and an unmatched technology solution are what set Sopheon apart and speak to the company’s exceptional leadership in the enterprise innovation management category.
Advice for New Entrants
The sheer pace, magnitude and omnipresence of digital transformation has created a new dynamic for the world’s most successful enterprises, and companies that adapt constantly and creatively with speed will continue to lead the way forward. With enterprises booming in the Microsoft solution sector, Sopheon CEO Andy Michuda has some words of advice on how to tackle these big changes and stay ahead in the market.
“Depth is better than breadth,” Michuda says. “Don’t try to be all things to everyone or attempt to ‘eat the elephant’. Find a niche where you can deliver value, and then build your solution and business to serve that market, partner with your customers, and make your users happy. Listening to your customers will allow you to focus on what matters and help you solidify a longer-term strategy providing consistent performance year after year.”