By Jennifer Honig, Founder, Techstra Solutions
Eighteen months ago, we started looking for an answer to a critical question. “What value is created by crowdsourcing innovation?” Our quest was to define business value as a way of supporting leaders who intrinsically knew that their crowdsourcing innovation programs had substantial benefit to the organization, but were challenged to articulate it in a manner that garnered executive support, organizational priority, and much needed resources. If we were able to answer the question above, we believed that crowdsourcing innovation leaders would be able to realize their programs’ full potential and in turn, create powerful strategic assets for their companies.
Countless conversations and multiple drafts later, we are pleased to release a new white paper, Crowdsourcing Innovation to Create Business Value, produced by Techstra Solutions in collaboration with The Community Roundtable.
The goal of our research (#crowdsourcinginnovation2016) – benchmark crowdsourcing innovation best practices and begin to quantify and qualify the value of community as it relates to this process.
What did the research reveal?
The value of crowdsourcing innovation generated three types of benefits across multiple dimensions:
- Amplification of Member Voice
- 100% of respondents agreed that creating opportunities for customer and employees to have a voice that is heard and responded to was critically important. “Say goodbye to the black hole suggestion box” and hello to ongoing engagement, the open exchange of ideas, and co-creation of solutions. Crowdsourcing innovation expands the diversity and quality of ideas and solutions. It also deepens customer and employee relationships.
- Creation of an Innovation Culture
- Crowdsourcing innovation programs weave innovation into a corporation’s culture. Some respondents noticed that two different cultures may exist. For example, in one company: corporate culture – siloed/hierarchical; crowdsourcing program – entrepreneurial and dynamic. The culture of the innovation program is the desired future state for the corporate culture. The program serves as a catalyst for change. This enables the company to bring about change from the inside (from the program), out (to the corporation).
- In addition, to further instill a culture of innovation, we found that the crowdsourcing process itself adds value and builds a knowledge base for the future when some ideas might be better suited or applicable.
- Generation of Business Value
- This benefit is the most important and has the greatest impact on the long-term success of the organization. Crowdsourcing creates a strategic asset for the corporation. In order to realize this opportunity, the program must align the hard and soft values of the crowdsourcing program with corporate business goals.
In addition, we found the following:
- Taking a community-oriented approach to a crowdsourcing innovation program is a key differentiator. It maximizes the opportunity due to its generative ability over time.
- Ideation and challenged-based innovation programs generate similar types of business value even though they may differ over business goals.
- And so much more…
In our Crowdsourcing Innovation to Create Business Value white paper you will find business value articulated across multiple dimensions, best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and 10 key questions to ask prior to launching an ideation or challenge-based community.
This work would not have been possible without members of TheCR Network. Our discussion team consisted of some of the most amazing people I know. They never stopped charting a path forward – Sam Creek, CA Technologies, Max Ebnother, Intel; Tracy Maurer, UBM, Aaliyah Miller, Aetna; Lori Harrison-Smith, Steelcase; and Russ Whitchurch, Adobe. In addition, this research was conducted in partnership with the Community Roundtable – Rachel Happe, Ted McEnroe, and Hillary Boucher. Matt Crespi, a doctoral student from Carnegie Mellon University, served as a research advisor. Together we shaped a survey that reflected the ideas of the State of Community Management and built a framework that we could apply to crowdsourcing innovation. Research participants included global and regional leaders in the financial services, technology and medical insurance industries. I can’t thank everyone enough for their ongoing commitment and support.
I look forward to your feedback and learning more about your company’s approach to crowdsourcing innovation and the value it creates. In addition, join me for #ESNchat, Thursday, October 6 at 2pm ET on Twitter where we will be discussing the research in more detail.
Jennifer Honig is the founder of Techstra Solutions, and a Member Champion in The Community Roundtable’s TheCR Network. Fill out the form to get a copy of the white paper now.