Social Product Innovation > Facebook

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What I learned this week … from a video by Kalypso called Social Product Innovation: It’s More than Facebook further validates that social computing is making a big impact on product development. As one participant from Boeing said emphatically in a discussion I led at COFES a while back, “We are not going to design a plane on Facebook!” I agreed then and still agree now. But the video makes some strong statements based on a research study published by Kalypso that shows that social media, web 2.0, and enterprise 2.0 technologies are being adopted in product innovation and making a positive impact. And Facebook may play a role after all…The Research

Strap on your seatbelt and launch the video. It is a fast-paced ride that highlights a lot of great points about social product innovation. I will try to capture a few of them here, but the video (and the underlying paper) are worth a look. Note, you can download the paper from the Kalypso “SPIKE” site but you have to scroll down a bit below the video to find it and provide your contact details.

Kalypso defines social product innovation in two ways in the video:

  • As one of their clients defines it: “open innovation combined with the Internet
  • Their definition: Social Media + Product Development = Social Product Innovation

I think the Kalypso definition is a bit broader and more to the point. The benefits of social computing in product development span from the use of innovation portals all the way to engineering collaboration, or Collaboration 2.0 as I have called it. The video commentary defines two main ways that companies are using social product innovation:

  1. Web 2.0 – Public networks including things like blogs, wikis, and social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and twitter
  2. Enterprise 2.0 – Secure networks that can also be shared with partners / suppliers – communities of practice -knowledge sharing, collective problem solving; using technologies like SharePoint, videoconferencing, instant messaging, and electronic white boards

The video also shares some great statistics from the report, and mentions some of the companies that are leading the way in the use of social product innovation, including SPIKE award winner Kimberly-Clark who I interviewed here.

Implications for Manufacturers

There is a movement underway to explore the use of social computing in product innovation. The research indicates that over 70% of companies are using social media in product innovation or planning to do so. That is a significant number of companies. Perhaps more importantly, they are reporting benefits including more product ideas, better product ideas, faster time to market, reduced product development cost, and more. Most companies have started small, but they are also planning to do more next year. This is really something that shouldn’t be ignored.

So just for fun, let’s get back to Facebook. I have made some bold claims that Facebook is not the right platform for social computing in product development, including Why Does Facebook Fail for Product Development?. In my report Going Social with Product Development,I go into more detail on why I think the concepts behind Facebook are winners in product innovation, product development, engineering, and product lifecycle management (PLM). But what about Facebook itself? Well, I have to admit that corporate sites in Facebook are being used for open innovation. It is only one part of the puzzle, but it can play a role – particularly in consumer-oriented companies. It still fails for the majority of the back-end process where an understanding of product development processes and integration to product information are critical. But I guess I am softening up a little on the front end. Let’s face it, there is no “one tool” that is going to meet everyone’s needs from open innovation to product development and design collaboration and then back out to product launch.

So I was happy to share some evidence on the adoption of social product innovation from Kalypso, I hope you found it interesting. I have asked whether or not 2011 is the year social computing will explode in PLM, so this is a big area of interest for me. The early indications are positive for 2011, we will have to see what happens. Let us know what you think about it, or what you are doing about it.