An Idea Ontology for Innovation Management

An Idea Ontology for Innovation Management

Christoph Riedl (Technische Universität München, Germany), Norman May (SAP CEC Karlsruhe, Germany), Jan Finzen (Fraunhofer IAO, Germany), Stephan Stathel (FZI, Germany), Viktor Kaufman (SAP CEC Karlsruhe, Germany) and Helmut Krcmar (Technische Universität München, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-593-3.ch012
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Abstract

Exchanging and analyzing ideas across different software tools and repositories is needed to implement the concepts of open innovation and holistic innovation management. However, a precise and formal definition for the concept of an idea is hard to obtain. In this paper, the authors introduce an ontology to represent ideas. This ontology provides a common language to foster interoperability between tools and to support the idea life cycle. Through the use of an ontology, additional benefits like semantic reasoning and automatic analysis become available. Our proposed ontology captures both a core idea concept that covers the ‘heart of the idea’ and further concepts to support collaborative idea development, including rating, discussing, tagging, and grouping ideas. This modular approach allows the idea ontology to be complemented by additional concepts like customized evaluation methods. The authors present a case study that demonstrates how the ontology can be used to achieve interoperability between innovation tools and to answer questions relevant for innovation managers that demonstrate the advantages of semantic reasoning.
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Introduction

What is an idea? How does it relate to an innovation? While people may have an intuitive understanding of what these terms mean, there is no accepted precise and formal definition for the concept of an idea. As holistic innovation management and, in particular, the concept of open innovation gains traction, it becomes increasingly important to close this gap: a commonly agreed concept of an idea would support exchanging and analyzing ideas across different idea platforms and innovation tools, and hence be the basis to realize the vision of open innovation (Chesbrough, 2006; Gassmann & Enkel, 2004; Ogawa & Piller, 2006; Riedl, Böhmann, Leimeister, & Krcmar, 2009).

In this paper, we provide our own definition of the concept of an “idea” and introduce an ontology to represent ideas. Our research was motivated by the observation that various innovation management systems implement the concept of an idea based on similar core concepts but also distinct features. The goal is to capture the common core of different approaches to facilitate reuse and better integration. We also want to allow modular extensions required for the needs of specific innovation tools. Hence, we present a core idea concept that is enriched by concepts required to deal with ideas, e.g., rating, collaboration, tagging, or grouping of ideas. Thereby, we also illustrate how the Idea Ontology can be complemented by further concepts like customized evaluation methods.

The remainder of this paper is structured as follows: first, we study the challenges that arise as a result of recent trends in innovation management. We suggest meeting these challenges by following an ontology approach and analyzing related work. Then we describe our idea ontology in detail followed by an evaluation section. Using a case study, we demonstrate how technical integration between innovation tools has been achieved and how the ontology can be used to answer questions relevant for innovation managers in order to demonstrate the advantages of semantic reasoning. Finally, we discuss the results of the case application and identify opportunities for future work.

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