A knowledge representation of the beginning of the innovation process: The Front End of Innovation Integrative Ontology (FEI2O)
The initial phase of the innovation process is widely accepted as an important driver of positive results for new products and for the success of businesses. The Front End of Innovation (FEI) is a multidisciplinary area that includes a variety of activities, such as ideation, opportunity identification and analysis, feasibility analysis, global trends analysis, concept definition, customer and competitor analysis, and even business model development. Due to the number and variety of FEI responsibilities, this phase entails a considerable level of complexity and decision making. This fact is reflected in the literature, where one finds a variety of FEI approaches and proposals, seldom overlapping and offering no clear consensual guidance. This work aimed at overcoming this gap by proposing an Ontology for the Front End of Innovation as a comprehensive knowledge representation of the FEI, the so-called Front End of Innovation Integrative Ontology (FEI2O). The ontology balanced the differences and addressed the shortcomings of the main FEI Reference Models and included contributions from the field. This research builds on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It combines the qualitative methods of interviewing and focus group discussion to collect the views of domain experts, used to refine the artefact and later to evaluate the final ontology. Quantitative analysis of data was carried out using the Attribute Agreement approach. The FEI2O explicitly provides a description of a domain regarding concepts, properties and relations of concepts. The main benefit of the FEI2O is to provide a comprehensive formal reference model and a common vocabulary.