Tag Archives: social media

Innovation Possibilities: What Companies Should Really Focus On

Concept of six ability in human brainThere was a time when a designer might say “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” It was a disparaging metaphor to warn you of what would happen if you designed anything by a committee with no unifying vision. The metaphor also implies (by some interpretations) that input of any kind from a committee would seal your fate and doom your project.

Times are changing (and for what it’s worth, camels are amazing). Working in large groups is now more manageable, and the idea of a lone designer is fading into obscurity, at least to the extent that we’ve been given better tools to communicate and collaborate.

Social media and cloud computing have contributed enormously to collaborative problem solving and creative thinking. Cloud-based services have become game changers for technological advancement. Business models that have embraced collaborations over the Internet have brought sorely needed resources to inventors/co-inventors and collaborators alike.

Brainstorming in the cloud: In terms of intellectual property, it presents an interesting twist to our history. The contribution of independent inventors has been in decline since the 1880’s. In the 1930’s, independent inventors were responsible for about half of all U.S. patents; a turning point with respect to who contributes most to U.S. innovation.

With the introduction of social media and cloud computing, the virtual dichotomy that existed between independent and corporate innovators began to break down. Instead of approaching banks or individual investors for capital, many inventors have been supported by crowdfunding campaigns. Likewise, the practice of developing contacts through traditional word-of-mouth introductions have been replaced with online entrepreneurial groups. Sites like meetup.com are driving in-person meetings all over the country.

As the landscape of R&D has changed, so has that of academic and scientific endeavors. Sites like zooniverse and fold.it invite anyone to join and help solve scientific problems.

Innovation doesn’t always develop into a patent or research paper. The same basic crowdsourcing model can be applied to any area of ideation, whether it be a political/social policy, the floorplan of a new church, the next great science fiction series, or a musical composition.

Although this article focuses mainly on the Internet for enhancing human collaborations, the theme of cloud computing extends to the idea of combining the power of many computers to solve complex problems.

Managing Ideation: The Internet has become the conduit for a flood of ideas, almost too many to appreciate or exploit. Innovation management has evolved in response to that persistent torrent of creative thinking. Although the business models vary for each social network, the first three steps are the same:

1. Create a network from which collaborators can develop and share ideas.

2. Attract innovative organizations, groups, corporations, etc. to your network, where they can apply their collective skills.

3. Provide a project management environment as a service, where organizations are given the ability to efficiently collect, refine, and build on the best ideas.

The process itself is analogous to a conversion funnel, where a large number of ideas enter the funnel. As ideas undergo further development and scrutiny, some will be deemed unviable and rejected. The remaining ideas are brought to fruition. A more refined explanation categorizes ideas as “breakthrough” or “incremental” and are put through different processes, one slightly more confined than the other.

A. Breakthrough Innovation: This is innovation which is fundamentally unique. In some circumstances, it’s referred to as “game-changing” or “disruptive” because it often forces competitors to rethink their own innovative path.

B. Incremental Innovation: This involves the further development of an existing product or process. It is the addition of innovation for the sake of enhanced performance/functionality or an adaptation to an alternate use.

Some sites create work environments for the benefit of others as a service, while Quirky, for example, collects ideas as part of their own product development program. Both models involve the same basic steps, which pools and directs talent for bringing ideas to fruition. Such collaborative efforts make the creative process flexible, and highly functional. In fact, it lends itself very well to mobile applications and cloud services.

The concept of “idea management” and the events that led to its emergence are representative of a significant shift in our culture. It promises to take the process of technological advancement to a level unlike anything in human history.

 

Guest Author, Ivan SerranoThis guest post is authored by Ivan Serrano, a business journalist and infographic specialist located in Northern California.

Three Reasons Why Facebook is Not an Ideation Platform

IdeationMany companies think they are crowdsourcing innovation because they engage their Facebook followers in discussion around new products. Here are three reasons why this is faulty thinking:

1. A blunt instrument

Facebook lets followers “like” a comment or idea, and that’s fine if you’re asking people what color they’d like to paint the office walls, or what new flavor they’d like to see in your soda range. Ideas with a high “cuteness factor,” or ideas submitted by a very popular person in the community, may get voted up for the wrong reasons. Any topic with more complex or strategic importance to your organization deserves a more 3-D evaluation.

Of course, IdeaScale Assessment Tools enable users to assess ideas based on critical dimensions such as desirabilty, feasibilty and business Impact. These metrics can be customized to the sponsor’s needs and topic, resulting in more credible results in your organization.

2. Followers ≠ Innovators 

Who follows your brand? People who love it, are passionate about it, and want to be publicly associated with it. That’s great for building brand enthusiasm, but are these people likely to be innovators?

In one research study, respondents with the most social media connections and were also the most active in social media were not likely to be prolific idea generators or divergent thinkers. They were not necessarily Early Adopters of new products either. So Facebook CAN be part of your innovation process, but remember, fans only represent your current, highly loyal fan base and are statistically more likely to be Early Mass Adopters or Late Adopters (read: followers). They are not innovators, and in fact are more likely to reject unfamiliar new ideas.

3. Like a conveyer belt

Facebook moves along like a conveyer belt – the kind you load your groceries onto at the grocery store. Posts move along and can get buried under more recent posts. So if you use Facebook for ideation, a great idea uploaded before a long weekend (for example) isn’t likely to get a lot of eyeballs, or be voted up. Or a great idea that is poorly expressed may not go viral. And any idea can get buried in chatter.

IdeaScale allows moderators to ensure all ideas are seen and evaluated equally, regardless of who submits them or when. So you’re less likely to overlook a badly timed or “sleeper” idea.

With all that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Whether you use Facebook fans or your own employees to source ideas, ask yourself:

a. How relevant is a “like” or a “vote?”
How credible are these criteria likely to be at the C-suite level of your organization? Do you need more nuanced idea assessment? Ask us about the IdeaScale Assessment module.

b. Do you have proven innovators in your community, or just fans?
Use Facebook fans to understand how Early Mass/Late adopters may react to new ideas, but don’t expect them to innovate, or let them have veto power over new and disruptive innovations. Ask us how we detect and recruit true innovators.

c. Are you moderating ideas to deliver true crowd wisdom?
Make sure your crowd works like a crowd, not a mob. Active professional moderation and the right workflow ensures the four conditions for successful crowdsourcing are maintained: diversity, independence, decentralization and aggregation. Ask about IdeaScale professional moderation and training.

If you want to learn more, you can contact me at @skuzin, or suzan.briganti@ideascale.com and we can discuss IdeaScale’s Advisory Services offering and how you might benefit.

How to Keep it All On the Up and Up

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, President Obama has called for a new age of openness in American politics by saying, “we will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” You can read more about the Open Government Partnership and the Open Government Initiative here.

But new initiatives that encourage openness come with a need for new and substantial accountability. Because the government continues to create and monitor several new social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and social sites as time goes on, the General Services Administration has created a social media registry where federal agencies can list their accounts on 22 social media accounts (one of which, of course, is IdeaScale).

How does it work? Well, anyone wanting to verify that they’re actually speaking to an actual government agency simply

  • visits this site (it should be up and running in two weeks)
  • types in the web address of the government site that they are engaging with
  • presses “look up”
  • receives a result that tells them what branch that account is associated with and who it is monitored by

If, for some reason, that page has not been added to the registry, then the federal employee who manages the site simply adds in their email address so that the GSA can then verify it. You can read more about it on the blog announcing the registry here.

But this leads to a larger question of accountability for anyone who is creating and managing a social media interaction with the public. It means that it behooves you not only to be available and responsive to your network, but also to know who else might be speaking to them with your authority.

How do you think users should verify their social media interaction? What other things does the new open government initiative need to consider?


Spotlight on IdeaScale

It’s been a busy time for IdeaScale. We’ve launched BadgeFarm, we’ve been following up on the success of the Federal Mobility Strategy, launching the new initiative on Section 508, and loads of other behind-the-scenes stuff that you’ll have to look forward to in the coming weeks. But we’ve also been in-front-of-the-scenes as well and we just wanted to share some of the news.

Last month, Software Advice blog listed IdeaScale as one of their favorite customer service applications. Why? Because IdeaScale’s available for any mobile platform and not only helps assemble customer feedback, but also helps to prioritize it. It appeared in good company among other mobile feedback platforms including Tello and Gripe.

But IdeaScale wasn’t highlighted simply for its mobile and customer service capabilities, it was also highlighted in an interview addressing a new study by the University of Illinois which ranked the social media sophistication of various U.S. cities. While Chicago used to rank number 8, it now ranks at number 17 and in a discussion of that fall in rank, they talked about how that change is not so much because Chicago has fallen behind, but that other cities have caught up. They also talk about how some of the leading social media cities (among them Seattle) go beyond simply using Facebook and Twitter (and there are still some cities that haven’t done even that), which was praised for its use of the platform IdeaScale that allows users to submit and rate ideas for improving local government.

More than anything, however, these stories signal a sea change in industry trends. Customer feedback is now a mobile imperative and that feedback needs to be an integrated part of the user experience that doesn’t take the user away from the application that they are engaging in. Cities and governments need to catch up to their citizens – they need to be asking for their thoughts and suggestions at every turn: on Facebook and Twitter, in organized websites, and in crowdsourcing platforms like IdeaScale.

What other changes does this signal in the industry? What does this mean for the future of crowdsourcing and network intelligence?

Higher Education: IdeaScale and UConn

With colleges and universities often hosting between 5,000 and 20,000 students, it is often hard to wrangle the passionate and diverse opinions held by that many individuals. However, since that is the key demographic that any university is serving, listening to their students is essential.

Which is why the University of Connecticut recently implemented IdeaScale’s University solution for their campus. The University of Connecticut is among the top 20 public universities in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. And, according to their website “the state’s flagship institution of higher education, UConn is the only public university in New England with its own Schools of Law, Social Work, Medicine, and Dental Medicine” and last year’s enrollment numbered at more than 30,000 students. That’s a lot of hopes and opinions to manage.

But in order to remain a relevant and leading institution, UConn must listen. In a message from the USG President, they wrote “Any idea that receives 50 votes will automatically be assigned to a committee in USG, so your ideas will really make a difference. It is our hope that this site will be a fun and easy way for students to share their ideas, let the best ideas float to the top, and make serious positive change on our campus.”

IdeaScale offers solutions specifically tailored to University, which is one of the reasons why it was chosen. It has unlimited communities (for institutions with large and diverse student bodies), Facebook integration (because where do you think students are spending their time?), and stringent security standards (enough to satisfy even the most vigilant IT department), among many other features. And, at one price, the University license grants Free Licenses to every student, faculty member and department!

It’s why other institutions like NYU, Wharton, The University of Vermont, and Georgetown University have already applied the IdeaScale solution. You can learn more about it here.

So what are your favorite UConn ideas: on-campus Red Box or energy-saving electricity sensors? How might IdeaScale help improve your campus?