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!

5 Key Elements to an Environment of Innovation

image curtesy of Boegh via flickr

image curtesy of Boegh via flickr

How does one create an atmosphere of innovation? As a leader in your organization it is up to you to not only bring innovation into your working environment, but foster it into success. Here are the five most important elements of innovation.

5. Participation. Get everyone involved. By drawing from the largest possible crowd, you will benefit from the broadest knowledge base. You’ll need to motivate employees at all levels and from all departments to join in to get the most salient results. Everyone has something to say, the key is to get them talking. If an open dialogue is new to your organization, employees might be timid in the beginning- show them that you want there feedback, and get ready for the flow.

4. Be prepared for an ongoing discussion. Not every idea will be a straight shot to a desirable end. However, as the conversation grows in an open discussion, new, related ideas will spring up. An idea alone is just that: alone. The more a conversation is built around an idea the stronger and more relevant it will become.

3. Follow-through. Innovation should never be a one time event. Innovation is a process unique to the needs of your organization. Ideas that merit and allow for implementation should be followed-up on immediately. If a good idea can be implemented right away, go ahead and start it. The trust you’ve built with your innovators will be strengthened as they see their ideas implemented. Even when an idea is not feasible, transparency with your innovators will strengthen this trust. Tell them why their idea cannot be enacted, especially if it’s a popular one. Including everyone in every step of the innovation cycle shows appreciation, and will better allow your innovators to direct their ideation going forward.

2. Define your goals. Opening the floor to crowdsourced ideation, and group innovation will always yield a quantity of ideas. Producing relevant ideas, that requires refinement. At the very beginning it is important to know why you are guiding your organization into innovation territory, and what you want to gain from your foray. Are you looking to cut costs? Are you looking to simplify your inner office process? Are you looking for new products or services? Your answer will affect your process. Don’t fear the commitment, though, your goals can be redefined at any stage of the game, and should be redefined often as required by the growing capacity for innovation and the needs of your organization change. It is important to maintain transparency and open dialogue to keep your crowd informed.

1. Create a structure. You’ve seen the data, you’ve read the articles, and you’re ready to get innovating. It might not seem intuitive, but successfully implemented innovation requires structure. This starts with the beginning of your campaign. As innovation is new to your organization, you are its shepard. Ideation may be the source of innovation, but the challenge often lies in discerning which ideas to enact. Your goals will help you narrow down which ideas to focus on. Know how you will communicate with the crowd, and stay consistent.

What have you found to be at the core of creating and maintaing an innovative atmosphere? Share your insights in the comments.

IdeaScale to Acquire Ideavibes as Part of Continued Global Expansion

newsflashSan Francisco, CA – April 24, 2014 — IdeaScale, the world’s largest open innovation software provider today announced its acquisition of Canadian crowdsourcing platform provider: Ideavibes.

Ideavibes’ mission is to offer an accessible crowdsourcing platform utilized by cities, brands, and organizations in order to foster innovation and effect change in the world. Ideavibes’ unique offering has served corporate and government clients such as the City of Ottawa, TELUS, Canada Council for the Arts, The Ottawa Public Library, and many others.

“Ideavibes has built a tremendous product and developed a proven methodology that we are proud to welcome into the IdeaScale family,” said Rob Hoehn, CEO of IdeaScale, “The Ideavibes platform already offers amazing embeddable capabilities that tallie with IdeaScale’s mission to innovate everywhere at every level. We are excited to bring that great experience to more organizations and help them achieve their innovation goals.”

Paul Dombowsky, CEO of Ideavibes said “We’re thrilled to join IdeaScale, a long-time player in the innovation market. Their approach to engagement and innovation along with their mature product offering will continue to make innovation easier for organizations and deliver on ideas that can have a positive impact on the world.”

IdeaScale is glad to offer servers and an established presence in Canada as it continues to build a more comprehensive presence worldwide in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.

About IdeaScale

IdeaScale is the largest cloud-based innovation software platform in the world with more than 25,000 customers and 4 million users. The software allows organizations to involve the opinions of public and private communities by collecting their ideas and giving users a platform to vote. The ideas are then evaluated, routed, and delivered on the back-end, making IdeaScale the engine of innovation. IdeaScale’s current client roster includes industry leaders, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and the White House. For more information about IdeaScale, visit ideascale.com.

Getting Beyond Top-Voted Ideas & Harnessing the Collective Wisdom of the Crowd

image curtesy of Ben Terret via flickr

image curtesy of Ben Terret via flickr

Suzan Briganti, CEO & Founder, Totem Inc. and IdeaScale Advisory Partner

Crowdsourcing is based on the idea that under certain conditions, crowds can be wiser than experts. Some collection platforms focus solely on ideas that receive the highest number of votes. But do top-rated ideas really capture the full wisdom of the crowd?

What are the collective patterns in crowd ideas? Totem has been analyzing the collective patterns in crowdsourcing campaigns for three years now, and the results are astonishing. Here are some amazing crowd-discovered accomplishments:      

- Crowds identified an innovation “white space” for a global beer conglomerate that had gone undetected – despite millions of dollars of R&D.
Crowds have powered a development roadmap for one of the leading tech firms in the world.
And crowds are envisioning the strategic plan in 2030 for a major UK university.

However, oftentimes, lists of  top-rated ideas do not capture such collective patterns in crowd campaigns. Nor is the simple post-and-vote approach designed to do so!  These accomplishments didn’t emerge simply by plucking the ideas with the highest votes. What do you do after idea collection? What begins as ideas need refinement so that various stakeholders can understand and evaluate them. Why?

Because crowds express their ideas in a wide variety of forms and degrees of finish. One idea may be stated in a single line of text. Another idea is a mini-business plan. And a third may be submitted as a video. How can you evaluate ideas expressed in such disparate formats? Idea conversion is the key, so that you are evaluating ideas apples-to-apples.

There is an art to expressing an idea this way. Totem has delivered top-scoring, test-ready concepts to diverse clients – concepts that have gone on to impressive market success.

Beyond ideas to crowd insights Ideas are extremely important, but are just part of the innovation process. Where do ideas fit in? An idea typically proposes a solution, but to what problem? There are a few questions that should be asked of every idea:      

– What problem is the idea solving, and for whom?
Is the problem widely experienced?
Is the problem associated with a mild or intense pain point?
Can your organization solve the problem?

Identifying problems worth solving can increase your innovation ROI by up to 50 percent. Why? Because otherwise you can spend millions developing a solution to a problem that is only experienced by a niche market, or that your customers see as “nice to have,” but not worth paying for. We state such problems as “insights.” Crowds have generated fresh insights that can power entire innovation pipelines for years – as new solutions become feasible.

To summarize: Voting is a valuable way to view your crowd ideas, and will remain an important one. But to get the full value from crowdsourcing, you need to harness the crowd’s collective wisdom, convert ideas so they can be evaluated apples-to-apples, and also capture crowd insights.

Tune into the upcoming webinar with Suzan Briganti, CEO & Founder, Totem, Inc. and IdeaScale Advisory Partner on Tuesday April, 29th at 10am PST for an introduction to crowd analysis, idea normalization and insight development. Increase your innovation success rate by up to 50 percent. Register now.

ReviewScale: How to Build a Business Case for Crowdsourced Ideas Using Decision Matrix Software

image curtesy of kenny louie via flickr

image curtesy of kenny louie via flickr

June 10th, 2014 10 am-10:45am PST

How to utilize decision matrix software to ensure that your innovation management program generates ROI.

How do innovation teams ensure that the next change that they have slated for implementation yields a business-impacting ROI? In this webinar, Rob Hoehn will discuss businesses that have both failed and succeeded in planning for the next stage of implementation, while also introducing new tools that ensure ROI.


Webinar Agenda:
– What are the challenges facing innovation management?
– Factors to consider when implementing change
– A demonstration of ReviewScale technology
– Live Q&A

Join our complimentary webinar to learn how other businesses plan for success and utilize ReviewScale to meet their bottom line.  Register today.

Reducing Administrative Distractions with the US Navy

photo curtesy of amit sharma via flickr

photo curtesy of amit sharma via flickr

With Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Greenert at the wheel, the United States Navy functions under the motto, “War fighting first.” The duty of these men and women lies in naval warfare. To better allow his sailors to dedicate themselves fully to this endeavor, the CNO tasked Rear Adm. Herman Shelanski and a select group of high ranking personnel with improving and streamlining the day-to-day operations of the Navy.

At the center of their strategy lies RAD (Reducing Administrative Distractions), an IdeaScale platform open to anyone with a Navy issued email. The community is private, but open to all levels of Navy personnel- from junior sailors, to Navy civilians, reserve sailors, and even commanding officers. The Navy  wanted this to be an opportunity for sailors of all designations to join the conversation. IdeaScale provided the opportunity for lower ranking sailors to make suggestions directly to decision makers, in a way where their idea doesn’t have to slowly climb up through the ranks. Speaking to the Federal Drive Show Blog, Rear Adm. Shelanski explained, “a good Commanding Officer does a lot of walking around, and he talks to a lot of the junior sailors.” He continued, “if you set the climate right,” this method can be one of the most effective ways to find out what happens on the ship, what doesn’t work, and how to make the system more efficient.

In RAD, authorized community members post their ideas, suggestions, and complaints under a variety of topics including: Navy Reserves, IT/Website, and training. Sailors may post anything they want under a more general category, but moderators have the option to take down off topic posts. A few tactics were utilized to improve participation. RAD was set up in waves, so that sailors could see the ideas of their peers being taken to heart, and implemented or given a reason why they could not be implemented at the time. Once authorized, community members have the choice of using their actual name and title as their username, a pseudonym, or post and comment anonymously. In this way, even lower ranking sailors have the opportunity to voice their concerns and suggestions without fear of repercussions.

The focus of the campaign was to find the inefficiencies of day-to-day operations, and streamline or “digitize” them, saving time for all levels of sailors. One problem RAD administrators found involved naval permissions, called designation letters. At the time of the campaign, each sailor required a unique designation letter for each permission, for example, parking their vehicle on base. Each designation letter must be issued by the Commanding Officer, totaling potentially thousands of individual letters. Thanks to RAD, a system is being implemented where sailors no longer need to hold on to these letters, and the CO can authorize and maintain certain permissions in bulk.

So far, RAD has gathered over 1,300 idea suggestions. Some they found were already in the works, others they were able to start on swiftly, but a lot of the ideas are worthwhile, but large scale, and will take time to implement.