3 Reasons to Use Crowdsourcing to Innovate Your University

As facilities for research and education, universities must remain current to prosper and draw the best students and staff. In order to eclipse the competition, a university must be constantly innovating, finding the most efficient, most effective methods. With a dedicated, internal crowd of intelligent, eager individuals, crowdsourcing is the ultimate cost saving, renewable resource for growth.

1. Including students and staff in the dialogue on growth will foster a feeling of University pride around campus. Recently the University of Portsmouth, an institution of over 20,000 students in Portsmouth, England, ran a crowdsourced campaign open to their full staff and student body through IdeaScale. A video issued by the organizers encouraged participation with professors proclaiming, “Share your ideas, they’re as good as mine.” Check out the positive feedback and support garnered from the campaign in University of Portsmouth wrap up video here.

2. Colleges and universities have requirements to meet before implementing any proposed ideas. A crowdsourcing platform, such as IdeaScale, will bring all ideas into one easy to monitor and analyze forum. Participators can vote and comment on these ideas, building a case through quantifiable data. Ideas with implementation potential can be explored within the crowd before presentation to decision makers.

3. It works – whether you’re looking to set the course for the future of your university or cut the budget, your staff and students can provide the answers. Thanks to their campaign, Paul Hayes is confident the University of Portsmouth now has a defined vision for the future, a way to get there, and can, “clearly articulate to the world who we are and what we stand for.” The University of Calgary aimed their IdeaScale campaign at budget reduction. Within the 200+ ideas submitted by staff and students, the university found the potential for millions of dollars in savings. To find out more about their success, download the case study here.

4 Advantages of Online Citizen Engagement

image curtesy of UWW ResNet via flickr

image curtesy of UWW ResNet via flickr

Civic engagement is an age-old democratic concept: getting regular people to participate on an individual or collective level in order to direct the government. It’s also a mandate at almost every level and (at this point) a basic public expectation.

But the tool set is changing from having town hall meetings and rooting through suggestion boxes, to a more social and collaborative set of digital tools that can be accessed anywhere, at any time. Think about it: while voting turnout has shown a downturn, engagement on Twitter has skyrocketed. This has happened for a number of reasons, including a vast difference in content that users are engaging with, but there are also a number of advantages offered by crowd-based, digital platforms that present ease and opportunities to both citizens and organizations.

A 2010 study found that 48% of adult internet users have looked to engage with a public policy or issue online. That number equates to millions upon millions of people who have suggestions to offer, solutions to propose, and valuable insight that could change the course of policy and governing for the better. With crowdsourcing, not only can they share these ideas, but they can vote and comment on the ideas of others and help define the next generation of government.

What’s more, they can do it and offer four distinct advantages over traditional methods of content collection:

Low Cost: In-person meetings, arduous processes of managing hard copy suggestions lead to high costs for the government. Introducing a digital collaboration system for suggestion offers a significant savings to government organizations and the taxpayer.

Rapid Response: Because organizations can receive, parse and forward suggestions so quickly in a digital environment, it is also possible to improve delivery efficiency. Numerous IdeaScale and Ideavibes projects have cut the typical implementation cycle in half.

Transparency: Not only does it make government projects visible, it also allows for collaboration and participation. Citizens can solve one another’s problems, become a resource for another, and stay in contact as each idea progresses.

Expanding Reach: Numerous government organizations utilize crowdsourced citizen engagement solutions like IdeaScale not only to gather ideas, but also to get the word out about different government initiatives and source new advocates for new policies.

If you’d like to learn more about how a crowdsorucing campaign might benefit your organization, please download this white paper by Paul Dombowsky, Founder of Ideavibes and crowd expert, who will explain the potential applications of a crowd campaign.

Disruptive Innovation at the Cutting Edge: the Impact Series

Today we have a post by guest author, Benjamin Seifried. An expert and an experienced writer in the field of innovation, Seifried is an editor for PreScouter Journal.

The Impact Series by PreScouter presents a panel of researchers at the cutting edge of innovation discussing the impact of emerging technologies and research and development projects. Moderated by Kelly Gibbs, the panel was filmed at Chicago’s start-up hub 1871, located in downtown Chicago on March 15th.

The series focuses on the power of disruptive innovations and how they are reshaping the competitive landscape. “You’re not going to be able to maintain a sustained competitive advantage with one particular product,” stated Christopher Westland, Professor of Information & Decision Sciences at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Christopher has extensive professional experience in the US as a certified public accountant and as a risk, valuation and technology consultant in the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Scholars discuss the purpose of their research and what drives the motivation to their discoveries. “Ultimately its about what you’re doing for people,” Ashish mentioned when asked how monetization comes into play for an academic. Ashish is the Chief Scientist at PreScouter. He completed his PhD in Chemistry at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, focusing his research on designing nanoscale architectures, molecular electronics, molecular memory and organic solar materials.

Daniel Eichelsdoerfer agreed with Ashish adding, “It can be dangerous for academics to only focus on monetization…the whole purpose of academia is to generate ideas…” Dan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Chemistry Department at Northwestern University, where he is focusing his research on nano-fabrication with soft and flexible materials. Prior to entering graduate school, Dan was a software developer at Microsoft and a woodland firefighter in Eastern Oregon.

3 Ways to Tap Internal Innovation Potential and Improve Morale

Innovation has become the benchmark of success for growing businesses, world class learning institutions, and government agencies. Public perception might not envisage government as an epicenter for innovation, and unfortunately these sceptics aren’t entirely wrong. According to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, issued by the Office of Personnel Management, the overall US government-wide innovation score decreased by 2.1 points from 2012 to 2013, down to a regrettable 59.4 out of 100. In a petition to the White House via its We the People website, a frustrated government employee gets to the heart of the problem, “For anyone outside the government, we are not all overpaid, lazy people. some are hard workers with the same problems you have and maybe more.”

Not all agencies suffered – the Federal Communications Commission’s innovation score improved by 4.6 points. NASA ranks as the best large agency to work for, with an innovation score of 76.0. So what did these agencies do differently? Both agencies have sunk themselves into a framework of innovation, built on the IdeaScale platform, fueled by internal experience and knowledge.

Involving Employees From Ideation to Decision Making
Getting employees involved in the decision process is one thing that Peggy Focarino of the Patent and Trademark Office noted was crucial to employee satisfaction, “I think we will continue with our very heavy focus of getting employee input [...] through IdeaScale and letting employees vote to prioritize things they want management to explore and look into.” The Patent and Trademark Office beat out nearly 300 other subcomponents to achieve their spot on top. A platform like IdeaScale provides consistent, easy access for a large crowd, so that employees of every level can contribute ideas and make suggestions. This creates a direct line of communication between the high level decision makers, and the employees affected by these decisions. “And bluntly, it’s our strength that those folks will tell us, because they are closer to [the mission] than we are,” Robert Lightfoot, associate administrator at NASA explained to Federal News Radio.

Rewarding Employees for Good Ideas
From the Best Places to Work research we see that approximately 90% of employees are constantly looking for a better way to do their job, but only 54.7% feel supported by their employers in this pursuit. They have also found that opportunity, reward for, and empowerment to make these changes, as well as 3 other factors (that we’ll discuss in the next section) have a disproportionately high impact on innovation. Ruth Milkman, chief of staff at the FCC taps into this innovation potential by letting employees know, “what they do is important to advancing the mission of the agency, and to doing the things that are important to the American public.”

Being Open with Employees about Implementation
The other 3 big factors found by Best Place to Work are perceived level of respect from upper management, work satisfaction, and opportunities to showcase leadership skills. An IdeaScale community can be a sounding board of ideation, but also a way to keep all employees apprised of implementation. Good ideas can be publicized and congratulated, as well as the work that goes into implementing them. Broadcasting to all employees tells them that they are valued. Making employees a part of big decisions, throughout the cycle, will motivate and inspire future participation.

A Case of ROI and the Crowd

netflixCrowdsourcing the public can bring to light ideas that would never have surfaced through internal exploration. The more open your innovation campaign, the greater the quantity and diversity of the resulting data. But what to do with all of this data? You can look at the most popular ideas for implementation, but will they be successful? Do the ideas most popular with the crowd translate into innovations with the highest ROI?

In 2006, Netflix issued a public challenge: improve the predictive rating system that recommends movies for Netflix users. Specifically, improve upon the accuracy of Cinematch, the system used by Netflix at that time, by at least 10%. Offering $1,000,000 as a reward, the only rule Netflix established was that those who submitted must explain and make publicly available how they solved the puzzle.

After nearly three years, the 10% barrier was finally surpassed. Although Netflix issued the grand prize check at a publicized event, the algorithms that won the award were never implemented. According to Netflix, the winning system was tested, and the output simply did not warrant the time it would take to implement – the return on investment was not strong enough.

By the time the prize had been claimed, Netflix’s instant watch option had grown from a side feature to the main event. Streaming videos through devices such as a roku or xbox had changed the format through which viewers made their selection. In a blog response to the win, Netflix explains that 75% of viewer choices are now made based on recommendations from the system. Even more interesting, Netflix found that viewers made significantly different choices when using instant watch for videos they would be viewing immediately, than for rentals they would receive and watch in the future. The prize winning algorithms would only have improved accuracy for physical video rentals, which had become the minority.

Opening the innovation and ideation process to the crowd is a great way to test the public pulse. But ROI is a complex metric, and requires a deeper evaluation of the crowdsourced data. On Tuesday June 10th, IdeaScale’s CEO, Rob Hoehn, will introduce ReviewScale – our new decision matrix software that ensures ROI. Sign up for the webinar now, and discover how ReviewScale can guide you through the implementation stage to success.

Engaging Citizens for Positive Change: Ideavibes Introduces IdeaScale May 28th, 10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. PST

Ideavibes introduces IdeaScaleIn every government, at every level, the collective actions of citizen groups are enhancing community participation, spurring change, and promoting transparency. With the advent of collaborative media and social networks, it is even easier to benefit from the actions of the engaged crowd along with the additional advantages of meeting these goals more rapidly, at a lower cost, while enhancing overall messaging capabilities.

Hosted by IdeaScale and featuring Paul Dombowsky, founder of Ideavibes, and Audrey Zuro, from IdeaScale’s Innovation Account Development Team, this complimentary webinar will include:

  • an introduction to the opportunities presented by crowdsourced citizen engagement
  • methods of handling crowd challenges
  • functionality within the IdeaScale platform that facilitates the rapid deployment of citizen engagement programs.

In addition, attendees will be invited to participate in a live question and answer session at the end of the presentation.

Join us and register for this complimentary webinar today.

IdeaScale Tools for Idea Evaluation

Last week, IdeaScale hosted a webinar with Totem’s Suzan Briganti about methods of evaluating ideas against something other than votes. Although voting and ratings can be an important tool in gaining additional information about what makes an idea valuable, there are numerous ways of structuring and understanding ideas that can help organizations build out their innovation pipeline.

In order to offer some suggestions for how IdeaScale admins can adapt IdeaScale to achieve the tasks that Suzan Briganti outlined in her presentation, we’ve put together a short tour of IdeaScale functionality that will help admins begin the job of prepping ideas for ReviewScale evaluation.

1. Identify Emerging Themes
As ideas begin to come in, it is possible to start articulating themes and then tagging ideas against that pre-defined set of information. This helps identify ideas that meet particular needs and  helps cluster those ideas for evaluation. Developing pre-defined tags and adding them to ideas can happen at any time during the ideation process and beyond.

Learn more about how to set-up pre-defined tags in this short video tutorial.

2. Develop Insights
Insights can be highly useful in helping deliver solutions and in bringing clarity to market research teams. Insights can capture functional problems or emotional ones and have even larger, more complex collective implications to consider.  It is possible to take any promising idea that is pointing at a particular pain point and allowing writers to edit that idea and create an insight.


3. Testing Crowd Ideas
Refining ideas against specific, templated criteria helps to test ideas for relevance, deliverability, and the role they might play in the development of a company. Suzan Briganti suggested a particular template that includes a name, visual, insight, benefit, reason to believe, price reference, and a tagline. Any idea can be edited to include these elements after submission and before final ReviewScale evaluation by any moderator with permission. This means that every idea is measured against the same set of criteria in the final stages. However, it is also possible to set the template at the outset of any challenge so that all idea submitters are sharing their ideas with this criteria in mind. All of these conditions can be added from the administrator view on the back end.


These are just a few of the ways that IdeaScale’s flexible platform can be adapted to parse both qualitative and quantitative information in order to build a sustainable innovation pipeline. If you want to learn more about IdeaScale functionality and how ReviewScale can help prioritize promising ideas, please tune into next month’s webinar.

We’d also be glad to answer any other questions about how to utilize IdeaScale for other programs, as well. Feel free to contact us at any time.

What Does it Mean to “Manage Innovation?”


image curtesy of derek bruff via flickr

image curtesy of derek bruff via flickr

There are numerous types of innovation – from incremental and research innovation to disruptive or breakthrough innovation. But for any organization that is working to create a sustainable innovation environment within their company, there is a level of innovation management involved in the process. And although“management” sometimes seems antithetical to the spirit of innovation which encourages freedom and multi-direction dialogue, there are several key ways that management has to funnel that dialogue into impactful results.

One of the key challenges to achieving this goal is finding a method of selecting, rating, and prioritizing potential innovation in a way that tallies with an organization’s overall mission, goals, and capabilities. This is why IdeaScale is introducing ReviewScale to their suite of services.

The benefits of introducing a decision matrix solution roughly align to three categories:

Align innovation to business goals
ReviewScale ensures that every client is able to support ongoing organization goals whether it’s conversion, engagement, web traffic, product usability – each idea is subject to customizable, defined criteria that contributes to the overall success of the business.

Make a business case for innovation
One of the most challenging aspects of any organizational change is helping others to understand the end benefit of each innovation. ReviewScale assigns business value and real numbers to each idea.

Ensure ROI
The crowd provides numerous valuable ideas, but knowing which one to invest in is often a challenge. With ReviewScale, administrators are able to forecast future success with greater ease and deliver results more than 80% of the time.

If you’d like to learn more about IdeaScale’s decision matrix solution, ReviewScale, tune into our complimentary webinar “How to Build a Business Case for Crowdsourced Ideas Using Decision Matrix Software” scheduled for June 10th at 10 a.m. PDT. Register today!