Social media has radically changed networking and communications, yet many companies have failed to harness the unfettered flow of insight now available through social sites like Facebook and Twitter. And innovation - a driving force in this open, fast-paced digital marketplace - remains siloed within research and development (R&D) functions.
Instead the innovation process should be hardwired into social media and digital communication channels, allowing companies to leverage employee, consumer and third-party networks and the insights held within each - something we call, “enterprise social innovation.”
Traditional enterprise social innovation is typically comprised of a dedicated team that conducts market assessments, spotting opportunities for innovation. They then cycle through iterations of “safe” strategies to pursue - all without external (i.e. customer) input.
With enterprise social innovation, the process gets turned on its head. Enterprise social innovation broadens the scope of idea generation and transforms traditional approaches from one - off ideation to a portfolio of ideas handled like any other continuous business process. The innovation process is scaled without scaling resources. By taking advantage of the company’s extensive networks, providing open channels of communication and stimulating the innovation engine (multiple brains working together real-time to create and qualify), it improves the pipeline of ideas coming through the innovation portfolio and allows for increases in volume and predictability.
What does it take to move from a one-off project-based linear approach to the collaborative, iterative enterprise social innovation?
Decentralize contributions: Your best ideas may come from where you least them. Enable them. Innovation shouldn’t be confined to the R&D department.
Feed the feedback loop: Social media isn’t just a great source of ideation; it can also serve as an incubator for product refinement or service testing.
Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate: Enterprise social innovation is all about dramatically widening spheres of influence and taking collaboration to the next level, fulfilling the prophesy of co-creation.
Stoke the fires: Treat innovation as a continual business process with the required funding, senior executive sponsorship, shared incentives, and reward recognition.
Success today favors those companies that achieve innovation at scale. Through enterprise social innovation, companies can benefit from a great pool of ideas and a broader web of networks that gives instant access to innovation process enablers. The end game: A continuous, predicable flow of relevant and successful innovations.