A burst of ideas at Idea Exchange, the product innovation platform where ideas are crowdsourced
Idea Exchange is the crowdsourcing platform where customers submit ideas, vote on them, and collaborate with peers to improve and innovate ITOM products. We transformed our products on the industry’s first containerized microservices platform for IT Operations. As the next step, it only made sense to transform our product innovation process.
We have nine idea exchanges to support each ITOM product. Since the first launch in December, we had 1,200 ideas submitted, 4,600 votes on ideas, and 10K visitors.
To learn more about Idea Exchange, we sat down with Kiran, Program Manager for Idea Exchange, and Product Manager Moderators across ITOM products—Cosmin (DCA), RamD (HCM), Mamta (OpsB), Tapan (NOM), and Tonya (SMAX).
Describe ITOM Idea Exchange.
Kiran: ITOM Idea Exchange is where customers are in the driver seat for ITOM products.
As a new process for enhancement requests (ERs) and new ideas, it’s a culture shift. A platform where our customers can help design our products to fit their needs. It’s also about transparency, engagement, and uncovering opportunities to innovate.
RamD: We’re opening our future roadmap and making it participatory. For all our customers, including partners and resellers.
Mamta: Customers discuss ideas in an open forum, learn, and share. The discussions give us insights on what customers are looking for and what’s important to them.
We transformed our ITOM products. So next, we transformed our process for customer-driven innovation. Tonya, SMAX Moderator and Product Manager
How does the process work?
Kiran: When a customer submits an idea and it meets the submission guidelines, it enters the Waiting for Votes status. At this stage, we wait for the community to provide comments and votes, and even elaborate on the idea. Once there’s enough community support, Moderators and our R&D team evaluate the idea, and if it aligns with our roadmap, it’s moved into Accepted or Under Consideration. We close the loop by updating the status to Delivered when the idea is implemented.
Tonya: The platform allows us to better understand the community’s priorities, see what’s popular, and implement the right ideas. There will be some ideas that remain in the Waiting for Votes status, and that’s OK. It’s designed by intention—the community decides if the idea stands on its own.
How long does it take to deliver an idea?
Tapan: Each idea has a different level of complexity. We may break down a complex idea and deliver it in a phased approach across multiple releases. Some ideas can be released within one to two quarters.
Any feedback from customers yet?
RamD: We’re starting to see some very positive responses from our customers. Customers say the exchange gives them “a sense of being part of the product group”.
Transparency is a big positive. Customers are collaborating on ideas across companies, across industries. They’re saying, “We didn’t think of this, but this is a great requirement”. Tapan, NOM Product Manager and Moderator
What great ideas are starting to emerge?
Cosmin: Compliance and patch management are rising to the top, as customers submit new ideas on making DCA a better tool for risk management, from patch prioritization to patch filters, from policy management to new content. All of this is aligned with the DCA direction. As customers are getting started on DCA on containers, they’re submitting more ideas.
RamD: For HCM, one popular idea was the customization of email notifications for cloud service requests. This idea allows customers to configure the notifications exactly to their liking and prevent any unwanted emails from being sent to their end users. Another strategic idea was usage-based billing for container-based applications.
For NOM, the biggest value has been the productization of ideas towards a common value. For example, a customer from the travel industry wanted the ability to customize node status updates. Another customer, from the transportation sector, had already achieved this customization using APIs. So what we did was take the customer’s API solution, productized it as an API sample script in our network monitoring software, and delivered the sample code in the SDK (software development kit). Tapan, NOM Product Manager and Moderator
Tonya: One SMAX idea under consideration is to develop a mobile app for IT agents to resolve issues faster and respond to incidents. Another top idea is the ability to modify the portal look and feel, for a totally flexible SMAX portal.
Have there been any growing pains?
Kiran: We’re actively working to make reporting and search more intuitive for moderators and customers.
Tonya: The platform is transformative and customers had to think about this transformative approach; it’s a new way of working. We’ve moved away from the traditional, silo ER approach, where customers might have worked with Support to clarify the idea for weeks or even months, towards a platform that helps refine and prioritize product suggestions.
This is a new process and it means a new way of working. The crowdsourcing platform encourages a product that works for the entire community. Customers may have to spend more time thinking about their idea and its benefits before posting, but the process results in enhancements and innovation that have already been prioritized by the community. Tonya, SMAX Moderator and Product Manager
Where do you want to take Idea Exchange next?
Kiran: Make Idea Exchange as transparent and participatory as it can be and provide great customer experience.
Cosmin: Continue to empower users to prioritize product enhancements. As Product Management, we will give faster responses and put customers at the center of innovation.
Take it to a level where customers are encouraged, motivated, and honored for providing ideas. Customer-focused innovation is one of Micro Focus’ primary goals, and Idea Exchange will take us towards this goal. RamD, HCM Product Manager and Moderator
Tapan: Make Idea Exchange context-aware and analytics-driven. Make it an intelligent platform that serves the interest of the users.
Mamta: Customers should feel and see that Idea Exchange is a better process for product enhancements.
Tonya: Encourage even more collaboration between customers!
Any advice to customers submitting ideas?
Tapan: Drive the idea, not the solution. Be crisp about the need statement, and votes for your idea will go up!
Tonya: Own your idea. Tell us what you’re trying to solve, but don’t define the solution. Explain your idea really well. Be clear about the expected benefit. What will this idea allow you to do? Why’s it important? Is it priority one for you? Be single-minded in your idea, don’t tie it up in multiple requests. And make it external focused too. If you follow these best practices, the community will respond, and you’ll get your votes!
We hope this blog has inspired you to join Idea Exchange, own your idea, and be part of the crowdsourcing innovation journey.
To submit an idea for your product, select your ITOM Idea Exchange.
Read more about the Idea Submission Guidelines and Review Process.
And for more information, visit the Idea Exchange FAQs.
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