Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Connect & Develop is the new black. (R&D is sooo last year)

Connect and Develop is the new black (R&D costs more, is slower and is sooo last year)

There is a blessing to the new world of collaborative innovation. Instead of spending heaps of money on research to get new products or the solution to problems and obstacles, industry has the ability to use Web 2.0 technologies to connect with those who have the answers. Just by asking every smart person in the company, the ability to connect to an answer is enabled. Or by asking the rest of the world (e.g. “open innovation”) months or years of research time can be short circuited and new products can be fast-tracked into development.

Basically you need an idea management system.

Maybe your company is stuck in a project. You can put a new drill bit into production but you encounter an obstacle. You realize you need a special lubricant to make the new drill product work. On one hand you can start your research department toiling in isolation to solve the problem. Or you can put the word out within the company, tapping into the expertise of the thousands, and perhaps the germ of an idea will surface. If not from within the company, you can put the challenge out to industry experts, your suppliers, your customers or the public. Maybe a lubricant like that is being used by a different industry for a similar use. Collaborative innovation enables people to connect.

There is more to it than just asking for a solution to your problem. You need an infrastructure in place to enable these dialogs. And you need a culture encouraging everyone to naturally and routinely jump into the collaborative space so they’re available when a challenge is put forth. You need to enable people to connect.

This means a collaborative tool allowing many people to routinely work with everyone. Email is not a real time all encompassing method of connecting. A Facebook-like collaborative system connects people in more ways than one. Like Facebook, users can reach out to those they know and reach out to those their connections know. Users can collaborate by posting information in order to educate everyone else. Good information will go viral. Like Facebook users, where users can find profiles, with a collaborative idea system can find an expert when they need one. In fact the system can observe people’s behaviors and based on their activity suggest the best connections.

Most importantly it is more about just connecting. It’s about measuring the connects. To get to development the system must be able to make the best ideas apparent. This means the social science activity, these connections, must be measured to determine the wisdom of the crowd. The connections have value: If an idea is viewed, if it is commented upon, if the comment gets a vote, if the idea gathers a vote, if it generates enough information to be “followed” by many and “bookmarked” it has a value. And the very best idea can be determined by measuring these connections.

It is only with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies that people can collaborate. With this new power, companies can save millions of research dollars by enabling smart people to connect. There are smart people on your team, and out there in the web. All you have to do is connect with them. Connect & Develop…the new black.

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) http://bit.ly/dvsYWD . He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here) http://bit.ly/b2ZEgU . If you search on “Shulkin” here at the FEI blog web site, you’ll find numerous entries on idea management systems.

CogniStreamer® is used as the backbone for many companies’ culture of innovation. It is the idea collaborative tool to generate ideas. CogniStreamer is both an innovation knowledge management and idea management software tool, available both SaaS and behind clients’ firewalls. It is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external partner companies or knowledge centers join forces to create, develop and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected areas. The CogniStreamer® portal is an ideal collaborative platform that invites users to actively build a strong innovation portfolio. In addition it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework is used by industry leaders such as Atlas Copco, Bekaert, BPost, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp. CogniStreamer® represents the best use of adaptive collaborative technology such to harness human skill, ingenuity and intelligence. Plus it supported by a team of experts who have built best practices and lend guidance based on practical experience.

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