What is an innovation platform?
Before growing your business through innovation, you should first learn about the platforms that can help you.
Innovation. It’s on everyone’s minds these days. To innovate means simply to look at reality and rearrange the constituent elements in new value-enhancing configurations.
For business this means to use products, services, and technology in a new way to reach your goals—preferably more efficient than before.
In this article, we will examine what types of innovation platforms that exist out there. But before you start you should figure out what you really need in order to achieve the goals in your digital projects—do you need to do completely new stuff, or simply do things differently?
Types of innovation platforms
First and foremost we should agree on the concept of “innovation platform.” It might refer to slightly different things, but the common denominator is that an innovation platform is a tool for growing and building ideas.
An innovation platform can be a purely physical forum, like a network meeting as detailed by the International Livestock Research Institute. However, an innovation platform may also refer to a technical solution where you can prototype tools and build things fast.
We will focus on the latter in this blog post.
Technical solution for prototyping
So, in our terminology, an innovation platform allows you to do prototyping—for instance interactive wireframing for websites—in a technical solution.
In such a platform your developers can code prototypes of new services and applications, while it also allows for prototyping in a short time span with the skills your team already possess.
Let’s have a closer look at two different types of technical innovation platforms—namely the so-called “low-code platforms” and the “agile web platforms.”
A low-code innovation platform comes in the form of e.g. Outsystems. These platforms allow you to make apps without the need to actually know how to code.
Naturally, this makes such platforms somewhat less flexible—and are most often employed for standard use cases. The users are sometimes called “citizen developers,” referring to their non-technical backgrounds.
A historic example of low-code was Microsoft Access, where you could make databases in a user interface akin the Microsoft Office experience. More modern case studies include mobile health apps or business applications for internal use.
Agile web platforms
An agile web platform is meant for professional developers and is typically easy to deploy in any cloud or cloud based system. In these platforms your developers have full flexibility, but choices have been made to allow them to get started and build functionality faster.
A CMS is a typical part of an agile web platform, allowing non-technical users to create and change content and simple layout options. Additionally these users can configure functionality made by developers, as a sort of approximately low-code alternative within the wider agile web platform package.
Both low-code and agile web platforms are examples of innovation platforms—enabling you to grow your business through innovation. An innovation platform allows you to quickly create a minimum viable product (MVP), which you can use for business purposes or as a business case.
You can build things hitherto unheard of and make them fully functional without spending a lot of time and resources. But what type of system should you choose? It all depends on your needs.
With low-code you can get things running in a day, as it is more standardized and locked—and it is meant for business people and non-technicals. With custom solutions through an agile web platform you can have everything up and running in a week. But remember: this latter platform requires developers.
First published 5 November 2018, updated 9 August 2022.