In my recent report, “Contracting for Innovation With Service Providers,” I argue that many sourcing and vendor management professionals have difficulty contracting for innovation, because the term “innovation” itself is elusive and subject to interpretation.

In my research, I note that for sourcing professionals to effectively contract for innovation, they need to be able to understand the business objectives of a broad base of internal innovation stakeholders – and consider whether their service providers can align with these objectives.  In the report, I considered the needs of three primary stakeholders – IT, business, and executive-level stakeholders.

But there are far more innovation stakeholders. After writing that report, I decided to review all of Forrester’s inquiries related to innovation over the past year to see if I could identify other innovation stakeholders.  After a review of about 500 detailed client inquiries about innovation, I’ve compiled a list of categories I have seen.

This list of innovation interests is quite diverse (and this is just a preliminary summary!). But the exercise helps us see how innovation is interpreted differently by different parts of the organization.  With this information, we can identify unique innovation objectives and have a much more informed discussion about what innovation is and how it is generated (eventually leading us to conversations about specific topics like structures, metrics, and goals).  

This will be the subject of an upcoming report, but I wanted to solicit feedback from readers as I write the “Innovation Stakeholders” report.  Do you see other key areas of innovation interest? Do you agree with my stakeholder categories?  Please leave comments, and I will do my best to incorporate them into my research.


Innovation interest

Key question(s) being asked

Executive level roles

Macro-economic innovation trends

What have been the trends in innovation spending (or interest) during, or in the wake of, the economic recession?

Creating an innovative organization

What are best practices for sparking innovation internally? How can I benchmark these practices?

Measuring and managing innovation

What are the right metrics to use to measure our innovation capabilities across the organization?

Creating global innovation networks

How do I expand my network of global partners to become more effective as an organization? Who do I partner with and how?

Technology/IT  roles

Identifying and purchasing innovation management tools

What are the new tools and technologies I can use to improve the management and measurement of my company’s innovation capabilities?

Tracking emerging trends and technologies

What are the new technologies we should be watching that could be disruptive to our business, or which could lead to a new strategic capability?

Product development roles

Innovation lab best practices


How do leading companies organize and prioritize innovation within their lab organizations?

Technology product development methodologies

What are the new methods we should be using to streamline innovation within our product organizations? How do we manage an innovation pipeline?  

Sourcing roles

Working with offshore services providers

How can I leverage global resources to lower costs and improve business metrics – such as scalability and flexibility?


Getting innovation from services providers

How do I get more innovation from my existing IT and business services providers?

Marketing roles

Branding innovation

What do we need to do from a marketing and positioning standpoint to be perceived as an innovator?

Marketing tools and technologies

What new technologies are changing the traditional marketing processes?

Business-specific innovation interests*

Technology-/product-/ marketing-specific innovation program*

What new innovative vendors/tools/technologies are shaping my unique market landscape?

 *Note, this last category is where we see the vast majority of innovation questions in my research.  The category typically includes questions related to a very specific market space (whether that is a vertical market, a geographic market, or a technology market).  While the other categories could be handled by innovation “generalists,” these questions have to be answered by someone with very specific market knowledge.