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Social Innovation Crystal Ball Predictions for 2012

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A quick peek into some research on the use of social computing for product innovation and product development and some insight into what to expect in 2012. I teamed up with innovation consulting firm Kalypso last year to survey companies using (or planning to use) social media or other “web 2.0” techniques to improve innovation. The research followed a similar survey in 2010, allowing us to get some insight into trends and future direction. Kalypso’s Amy Kenly and I teamed up to share the results and I thought I would share a bit with you here.

The Research (and my crystal ball disclaimer)

For those of you that know me, you know my regular disclaimer that I don’t really own a crystal ball (or even a magic eight ball), so I rely on survey-based research to get a view of what companies are doing and plan to do in the near future. Kalypso’s second annual “SPIKE” survey provided an opportunity to see what companies planned to, but also to see how much they accomplished of the plans they put in place in 2010. I will hit on a couple of the highlights here, but feel free to read the full Predictions for Social Product Innovation in 2012 post on the Kalypso website.

Key Research Findings

One of the main findings from the research was that in 2011 companies managed to gain benefits despite a lack of strategic plans. In 2010 we found that many companies were acting without a plan. In 2011, we saw that many were able to achieve some valuable results including more (and perhaps more importantly) better product ideas. In addition, they were able to use social computing to strengthen relationships internally and externally.

Source: Kalypso LLC

 A related finding is that quite a few companies took a step back from social computing in 2011. While the total percentage of companies (about half of companies in both 2010 and 2011, see chart in the Kalypso post) either have a plan or are developing a plan for social product innovation – there was a distinct shift from those that said they have a plan towards those that are in planning mode. We interpret this as a direct result of the fact we reported last year – that companies were acting without a plan – and that this is a healthy sign that they are taking a step back to strategize (hopefully taking into account the learnings of their early efforts).

Implications for Manufacturers

Social product innovation is still new and companies are still learning. There have been some false starts and some companies have needed to take a step back to put a plan in place. On the other hand, the benefits manufacturers are achieving from social product innovation are impressive and strategic. Not surprisingly, companies plan to do more in 2012 (see below). It should be an interesting year.

Source: Kalypso LLC

So that was a quick peek into some recent research on the use of social computing for NPD and innovation, I hope you found it interesting. Does the research reflect your experiences? Do you see it differently? How about my post on 2011 – The Year Social Computing Explodes in NPD and PLM, was my “crystal ball” clear on that one? Let us know what it looks like from your perspective. And please feel free to review more free research and white papers about PLM and other enterprise software for manufacturers from Tech-Clarity.

SPEAK YOUR MIND

  1. Jim, thanks for sharing the results! 

    When it comes to the “social space”, I’m always concern about “noise vs. signal” ratio. Social networks helped to reduce the noise factor of “search”. However, when it applied to the large scale (e.g. company has x0000 followers) it can be still very “noisy”. 

    It is obviously good to have social networks as a source of requirements and ideas. However, “noise” factor is critical and can kill all initiatives. Especially when it not integrated well with your PLM requirement management systems. 

    What your researches are saying about how companies are thinking to filter requirements, prioritize them and maybe even to take the more relevant ones? 
    Best, Oleg 

  2. Jim, thanks for sharing the results! 

    When it comes to the “social space”, I’m always concern about “noise vs. signal” ratio. Social networks helped to reduce the noise factor of “search”. However, when it applied to the large scale (e.g. company has x0000 followers) it can be still very “noisy”. 

    It is obviously good to have social networks as a source of requirements and ideas. However, “noise” factor is critical and can kill all initiatives. Especially when it not integrated well with your PLM requirement management systems. 

    What your researches are saying about how companies are thinking to filter requirements, prioritize them and maybe even to take the more relevant ones? 
    Best, Oleg 

  3. Oleg,
    Thanks for the comment. There are a lot of things that companies are doing to limit the signal to noise ratio. That is very important. One of the things I see consistently in my research and discussions is people asking for BETTER ideas and not just MORE ideas. Some techniques that work?

    – Focus innovation. Don’t just ask for ideas, ask for ideas focused on solving a particular problem you want solved. For example you can have a targeted campaign on “How can we update our product offerings to use less energy?”
    – Use the crowd to filter your ideas. Let others comment and like (or vote for) ideas, and look for the ones that are getting the most attention. Of course you have to recognize that will tell you what is popular and not necessarily what is valuable
    – Use analytics. Statistics, tag clouds, and other “big data” techniques can be helpful to identify trends and commonalities
    – Divide and conquer. Don’t have one huge suggestion box, but instead designated areas (moderated by experts like product managers) in focused areas of interest to keep it manageable

    Any other ideas?

    I also want to point out that social product innovation is broader than just idea management. Social computing concepts can be used to innovate in small teams on a product development or engineering project in addition to larger-scale social media campaigns. In fact, most of the big social media campaigns (using Facebook for example) are less about generating ideas and more about outbound marketing. That is not always the case, but it is more common than not.

    It might be an interesting conversation to discuss when an “idea” (or more likely multiple ideas) becomes a “requirement” that belongs in an requirements management system (either standalone or in PLM).

    Thanks for the discussion,
    Jim

  4. Oleg,
    Thanks for the comment. There are a lot of things that companies are doing to limit the signal to noise ratio. That is very important. One of the things I see consistently in my research and discussions is people asking for BETTER ideas and not just MORE ideas. Some techniques that work?

    – Focus innovation. Don’t just ask for ideas, ask for ideas focused on solving a particular problem you want solved. For example you can have a targeted campaign on “How can we update our product offerings to use less energy?”
    – Use the crowd to filter your ideas. Let others comment and like (or vote for) ideas, and look for the ones that are getting the most attention. Of course you have to recognize that will tell you what is popular and not necessarily what is valuable
    – Use analytics. Statistics, tag clouds, and other “big data” techniques can be helpful to identify trends and commonalities
    – Divide and conquer. Don’t have one huge suggestion box, but instead designated areas (moderated by experts like product managers) in focused areas of interest to keep it manageable

    Any other ideas?

    I also want to point out that social product innovation is broader than just idea management. Social computing concepts can be used to innovate in small teams on a product development or engineering project in addition to larger-scale social media campaigns. In fact, most of the big social media campaigns (using Facebook for example) are less about generating ideas and more about outbound marketing. That is not always the case, but it is more common than not.

    It might be an interesting conversation to discuss when an “idea” (or more likely multiple ideas) becomes a “requirement” that belongs in an requirements management system (either standalone or in PLM).

    Thanks for the discussion,
    Jim

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