Thursday, March 14, 2013

Enabling Open Innovation Ideals/Crowd Sourcing Every Challenge

I’ve heard about the lofty goal of assembling diverse groups to collaborate for the purpose of solving The Big Issues for some time.  It seems technology has finally caught up with the task.  

It is very possible to get Academics, Commercial Interests and the Government together, working toward common goals.

The technology required includes:

  •         Expert Identification
  •         Compelling Calls to Action
  •         Easily Administered Security

When you have a social network dedicated to collaborative innovation  you’re worried about Intellectual Property security.  If you have a portal everyone is invited to, you want some members of the group to see everything and other members to see only parts.  You want some of the information to remain private.   Easily administered security enables this.  

As an example let’s use the one everyone brings up to me when they talk about open innovation, the traffic problems in their city…let’s say The City of Chicago wants help solving its traffic problems.  

The Public can be invited to submit ideas, collaborate upon others ideas and vote on ideas.  Academics can be encouraged to enrich the very best ideas, their discussions remaining private from the Public.  Finally Commercial Interests like vendors can engage in the final feasibility studies to ready the very best ideas for production.  In the meantime, the City itself can see it all, keeping the different discussions private from the participants.

The “easily administered” part enables the moderators to assign certain rights and login credentials to certain classes of users.  Couple this with self registration and automatic email confirmations, different types of users will be allowed to participate to the level commensurate with their skill set, the role they play and the workflow of the Challenge.

Compelling Calls to Action
Social Networks have opened up.  We can issue a call to action to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, to Vine (OK, to anything someone thinks up next week) and E Mail.  Wherever the community lives, they can be reached.  And they can be asked to contribute to the collaborative effort.  Using URL’s, and the proper permissions set up, these calls to action will draw the various users directly into a secure arena where their contribution is most valued.

And these calls can be based on a timeline dictated by a workflow.  

As soon as the predetermined number of ideas has been submitted and the right number of “best ideas” are automatically promoted (based on the predetermined amount of votes and activity), the calls to action go out to the right type of person required to enter into the conversation.  In our example to solve Chicago’s Traffic Problem, 

      The Public is invited at the City of Chicago’s Twitter and Facebook pages.  

      When the best ideas bubble up to the top, Academics who study traffic congestion are called on via E Mail, via Interest Groups they follow, etc. to join into a SWOT analysis.  The SWOT can have a quantifiable attribute, like a final score, and

      When the best idea has the winning score, Vendors can be solicited via Email or via City web sites issuing RFI’s to Vendors to submit their Proposals in order to enable the winning idea.

Expert Identification
Semantics technology is the driver for identifying the right person at the right time.  Semantic software can be put to work crawling the "traffic social network" making note by auto tagging contributors with germane knowledge.  So if a particular contributor keeps posting content concerning traffic, they will be identified as an expert and suggested when their expertise is required to participate in the process.  

The Willingness to Collaborate and Crowd Source
The other enabler for this sort of program is the embrace of innovation by government coupled with the desire of academics to get involved with commercial projects.  

  •         Big governments all over the world are providing seed money to jump start innovation.  They are thrilled to provide funds for Open Innovation Collaborative Systems. 
  •         Commercial Organizations are happy to have access to emerging markets driven by innovation, especially if the government will help fund the R&D. 
  •         Colleges are excited about the notion of putting all those smart people on their staff to work to produce income streams based on their intellectual prowess.

The technology exists, the players are anxious to embrace innovation, the funds are there.  Anybody got any good ideas?  How about a big problem?

Ron Shulkin blogs, researches and writes about emerging enterprise technologies focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  Ron is Vice President for Global Sales and Channels for CogniStreamer®, an innovation ecosystem, a Social Network for Innovation.  You can learn more about CogniStreamer here .  Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) . You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedIn. You can read more about Ron’s history at his curriculum vitae web site

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