More Intelligence Now for a More Intelligent Future: Interview with Founder Tyron Stading
The launch of IdeaScout is a project that's been in the works for nine years. We took a moment to chat with its ideator (and founder of Innography), Tyron Stading, about the project, and why he thinks it's a game-changer for innovation management and how ideas will be brought to market in the future.
Q. Give us your elevator pitch for IdeaScout?
A. IdeaScout is a trade secret and idea pipeline management platform that streamlines research and development efforts and paves the way for strategic value. Using an intelligent agent, like a Siri or an Alexa, it seamlessly integrates into a user’s current workflow, while making a huge impact on the company's lifeblood for innovation. Early studies show that it increases idea generation and pipeline 2-4x, saves up to 90% of a researcher's time, and eliminates up to 33% of redundant efforts for corporations.
Q. You said that you’ve been working on IdeaScout for nine years. Why has it taken so much work to pull off?
A. There are many technical and cultural-social barriers to this adoption. While we had some of the technical pieces nine years ago, it has taken a lot of data and usability pieces to really make this a reality. Just being able to search on information is not the answer. You need a mixture of patent data, scientific research data, and a true semantic response engine that allows you to put a description together in natural language and have that feed a search for the landscape. But beyond that, what’s really challenging, that has been plaguing me for the last five to six years is, how do you get cultural adoption? How do you change a users behavior? How do you make it so that the person actually wants to use this? The idea behind IdeaScout is not new or novel. People have been trying to do this for a long time, but the biggest issue is why would a person want to change what they’re doing today? When you have thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of employees that don’t want to change their workflow and behavior, it’s not effective unless you can actually impact and influence the idea pipeline upstream. So, usability becomes the most paramount feature and function in this system, so that people want to use it, and it’s easier for them to do it, and it integrates into their workflow process.
We’ve had to develop and research quite a bit on psychological profiling of inventors — understanding their motivations and needs, ways to trigger that, and the biggest breakthrough in all of this is our “LinkedIn for inventors,” that enables us to reverse engineer resume profiles for all of the inventors in the world, and then create a social fabric to be able to connect all those people together. And then using that as an underlying infrastructure platform to then communicate back to the inventors — not only about their own inventions, but about their colleague’s inventions, around ideas in their company, and in the network of their area of expertise. All of this becomes an underlying capability that allows us to tailor the information to the user, streamline a lot of the input so they don’t have to input redundant information, and push information to them instead of having them submit information. We know a lot about them, so we can help them by giving them contextual information to do their jobs better. It tailors a lot that way.
So the inventor network that we’ve created is technically extremely difficult to do because of all the name variations, etc., but more importantly, it enables mechanisms to reduce the barriers for an engineer to use this — so it’s easy to incorporate into their workflow. All of which makes it a higher likelihood that when you get to tens or hundreds of thousands of people, that this will positively influence their workflow, and capture information that’s not being captured today. No one wants to deal with an outdated interface; they want something that’s elegant, easy and…enjoyable.
Q. Why was this project so important to you?
A. Most of the people involved in intellectual property are the inventors and the researchers, yet they’re really underserved in the market. My background is in the R&D space, as an inventor, and I’ve experienced — first-hand — the lack of support and infrastructure to be able to invent and achieve the engineering goals that you want from your professional career goals. Everything in the IP space is more focused on the administration side of things, but the vast majority of users — probably 99% of all the people involved with IP — are on the R&D side. Yet, there’s no real tools or capabilities to help them.
Plus, I get frustrated that people are coming up with great ideas all the time, but the vast majority of them will never see the light of day. Historically, there have been many times where companies have invented something they were never able to commercialize. So being able to empower the inventor or researcher to look at how they can commercialize their ideas through better information, awareness of the competitive landscape, how to improve their idea, and how to not spend a lot of their time on the legal aspects of it but more of the meaningful pieces that can impact their commercialization aspect. Plus, the connectivity of the community. There’s a lot of people who want to help and communicate around new ideas in making the world a better place, and yet there’s so many barriers for them to improve that through technology and cultural issues, and there needs to be a better way to really empower the inventor and engineer to make their ideas a reality.
Q. Why are you excited about it?
A. I think it’s the first time that we can actually make an impact upstream — empower the IP professional to impact the roadmap and strategic direction for a company, instead of being at the tail-end of the process, where all the information flows down to them. This gives them a way to gain early insight into where things are going, shape where people are going, proactively engage with a larger community in an efficient way (instead of having to do one-on-one conversations), and communicate strategy at the corporate level. So they are able to influence where the company is going — or at least explain where the company is going — and why IP is critical to achieve that. Also, it addresses a completely different class of intellectual property that no one’s ever tackled before — trade secrets. No one understands how to capture, inventory, or manage it, and this is the only product that is even trying to address that problem. It opens up a whole new world of IP management that has transformative capabilities from a legal perspective, as well as a strategic direction for a company, especially with the regulations and laws that are now in place to protect and enforce trade secrets.
Q. Why do you think customers will be excited about it?
A. IP professionals today spend a massive amount of time trying to communicate intellectual property and pulling teeth from engineers to change their behavior. But I think they’d rather be spending their time helping and collaborating with those engineers about how to make their ideas better, rather than just asking them to submit the information. I also think it creates a transparency between the IP team and the engineers that fosters trust and excitement because it’s more about the future of where things are going, and empowers the IP professional to be much more effectively. At the same time, it allows them to focus on the strategic questions, instead of a lot of communication barriers in influencing social behavior. I think it makes the IP professional a valued partner and a rock star in this relationship by giving them insight into where they’re going in the future.