IDEASCALE BLOG

Insights and sneak peeks into innovation and IdeaScale.

How Technology Changes Our Home in the Most Unexpected Ways

Technology is constantly changing our lives. It improved our communication and transportation, it increased the pace of business and development, it’s changed government and our families. It has also impacted our home in the most unexpected ways. As we head towards a fully-automated future, we can see many indicators of how technology changes our house. With technology, we can make our home a convenient place to stay. We can create home improvement projects easy and fast. The possibilities are limitless. Technologies that are changing our home in the most unexpected ways are smart lights, thermostats, digital assistants, fast internet connections, smart television, and entertainment (to name a few). Let’s look at how a few of them are influencing us.

1) Fast Internet Connections

With internet connections, communication is convenient and fast. In one click, we can talk to our loved ones who are miles away. These connections have brought us to the rest of the world: families can reunite, businesses can conduct research and studies without spending millions, entrepreneurs can grow, expand and communicate through a platform. These are some of the positive impacts of interconnectivity. At the same time, it asks us to be responsible for the flow of information (especially for parents who want a say in the content that their children see).

2) Home Improvement Technology

Smart lights, thermostats, and digital assistants are some of the many home improvement technologies. Smart lights help us in so many ways. They can improve our sleeping patterns. And with technology, we can make our home voice activated. In a single command, we can enable the thermostat to adjust the temperature in our homes. Even without voice commands, we can set the digital assistants in our home to conform to our living conditions. These assistants can prompt us if there’s something wrong with the HVAC. They can let us know if the air filter needs replacing.

Smart appliances can make our cooking more convenient than before. They can aid you in preparing meals in under 15 minutes without sacrificing taste and nutrition.

These smart technologies make our life easier. However, these technologies make us too dependent on convenience and comfort. This dependency on technology, sometimes, impair our judgment, because sometimes we forget to stay physically active.

3) Home Entertainment

Back in the 1990s, television series were the thing. People were happy with knitting hobbies and other simple forms of entertainment, reading physical books, joining a sports club, or simply listening to a radio. These entertainment ways are still the same except that they have evolved. Now, everything is digital.

Back then, cassette tapes or CD’s are the methods of recording music. Today, we can download them from online sites. We can buy them in digital music stores. Now, the easiest way to obtain books is through an eBook subscription. In a click of a button, we can download thousands, even millions of books to read. Before, watching movies means going to a movie house with popcorn in one hand. We don’t need to go out to enjoy our favorite film anymore. A subscription will suffice. After a day of showing a movie on the big screen, we can download the online version. We can watch a video over and over until we know every dialogue and scene.

Final Thoughts

Technology is great in making our lives more comfortable and more convenient than ten years ago. It affects our lives in so many ways. It improves communication, home living conditions, and education systems. However, relying too much on technologies can be a bad thing. Technology can impair our better judgment. It makes us unhealthy in some ways. After all, for a healthy life, we need more than convenience. We also need physical activity and to put our devices down every once in awhile. 

This guest post is authored by Jimmy Milner.  He spends most of his time in his garage-turned-wood workshop. He loves tinkering with tools and using them to complete beautiful home improvements for his lovely family. Air Tool Guy is where he shares tips, experience and passion to fellow DIY-ers.

Deadline for the 2018 Innovation Management Awards Extended

Deadline ExtendedIdeaScale is offering innovators from around the world an extra week to complete their submission for the Innovation Management Awards. This is our fifth annual award series and we honor winners in three categories: best innovation engagement strategy, best innovation process, and best innovation.

Why did we pick the categories that we did? Well, every year we ask our customers what it is that they would most like to learn about in order to support their programs. Themes vary year to year (for example, this year a top theme was innovation metrics and program data), but a few categories seem to appear every year: engagement, process, and idea implementation. So these are the categories that we learn from and try to celebrate. Here are just a few of the benefits of succeeding in each one.

Engagement. IdeaScale offers crowdsourcing software, because the higher quantity and the greater diversity between linked ideas and concepts, the better an innovation program performs. However, to derive this benefit, organizations need to also be excellent at communications that invite people into their innovation communities to connect and collaborate. Every year we celebrate entrants who have demonstrated creativity and results in their engagement strategy.

Process. A repeatable innovation process is what makes an organization shift to an innovative culture. Without a process, organizations can sometimes be innovative and sometimes be an industry laggard. If there is a process for the collection, refinement, selection, and development of great ideas, then groups will be able to innovate over and over again across multiple horizons. It’s for this reason that we celebrate the process gurus among us.

Implementation. And finally, the true proof of an organization’s innovation capability is in delivering ideas and learning from them.  We ask our subscribers to tell us about products or processes that began as ideas, but turned into program realities. This helps our other customers see how they can deliver on ideas that could generate demonstrable returns for their company, as well.

The new deadline for submission is November 30th, 2018. Demonstrate how you think about these three categories by submitting your company as an entrant today!

How Crowdsourcing is Shaping the Future of Digital Interaction

Crowdsourcing is Shaping

 

Crowdsourcing is quickly evolving and gaining notoriety in the business world. According to a study performed by the company Eyeka in 2014, in the past 10 years, 85% of the top global brands have used crowdsourcing efforts within their company. As the world moves further into the digital age, companies need to find faster and more innovative ways to collect the best ideas around. Interacting digitally through crowdsourcing is the quickest way this can be done.

A growing service among a variety of industries, crowdsourcing is the next step for your company when it comes to extra support. Conventional means of communicating is limited to in-house interactions. Yet, crowdsourcing is like a hive-mind though, opening you up to a larger workforce. They are filled with diverse sets of skills, information, backgrounds, and experiences you can use to help your company.  Crowdsourcing is the way to shape your company’s future in the right direction.

Here’s how the innovation of crowdsourcing will change digital interactions for you and your company.

Social Media Collaboration

Companies need to proactively engage with their audience to keep their services or products relevant to the masses.  The internet is driving relationships between companies and their consumers closer together. This is why businesses and organizations are using the internet to find new ways to engage and keep up. They are doing this to develop new initiatives that align to their consumers’ liking. Since social media efforts are mostly instant, it allows companies access to information from a wide audience in a cheaper and faster way. The quicker information is received, the quicker companies can interpret it.

Customer Interaction

Benefits of crowdsourcing don’t end at the business front. Connectivity through crowdsourcing allows consumers to share and collaborate knowledge with their peers as well. With the ability to communicate with potential and current consumers, information and answers can be relayed back quickly. This allows the consumers to get involved on their own volition.

In fact, many businesses are taking advantage of this type of opportunity by providing their own online platforms on their websites. However, it is imperative that the platform created has the user experience in mind. A good UI design, coupled with app design and development, increases the likeability of online interactions. If the social collaboration platform you choose is not easily accessible or has a confusing interface, ideas may not get shared effectively, and the crowd won’t come back.

In-house Communication

Not only can you use outside crowds for information, but you can also tap into the collective insights of your own employees. Crowdsourcing platforms within your company will promote communication growth. This allows companies to gain more information from their employees. Rather than the traditional one-on-one meeting environment, digital interactions encourage employees to weigh in on different topics and discussions. Leaders can push ideas and concepts forward while getting the input from the entire team. Platforms allow constant communication and easier access to information from other sectors of the business as well.

Several functionalities that crowdsourcing platforms can use to boost communication in the office are :

●      Direct messaging- Be able to connect to anyone in the office to use their knowledge and expertise

●      Open forums – Openly ask questions to anyone and receive answers quickly

●      Constant alerts and notifications – Always be updated and connected

●      Communal upload documents and information – Have access to all of the information you need

Feedback

Crowdsourced communication can also be done through digital employee feedbacks or customer feedbacks. For example, an anonymous or identified suggestion box can be implemented to elicit feedback from staff or customers. All of this information, including ideas, comments, reviews, votes and other types of data are online and visible to the business. The appropriate staff will have access anytime they need to. Who else knows better about problems and potential solutions than the employees and customers from your company?

Here are 3 tips to encourage crowdsourcing through feedback:

●      Ask for Feedback – Ask open-ended questions to collect valuable insight through an active and always ongoing conversation.

●      Create Contests – Host a social media feedback contest to foster ideas

●      Use Polls and Surveys – Collect ideas, opinions, and feedback with polls and surveys

 

This guest post is authored by Nick Rojas. Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has  contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at [email protected].

The Nonprofit Innovation Advantage: Purpose

Nonprofit innovation advantageResearch has amassed over the past several years that details how much positive impact it can have on the workplace to offer employees a sense of purpose. Purpose doesn’t just mean that an employee has the ability to influence meaningful decisions at an organization, but also that an employee believes they are part of a consequential mission. This type of purpose can help employees feel engaged, stay longer, work more effectively, and more.

This is actually a key advantage that nonprofits have when it comes to innovation. Employees, donors, and recipients of a nonprofit’s services see the true and profound value of helping a nonprofit succeed in its mission, which can positively impact innovation in three ways:

  • Motivating participants to share their ideas. If you’re working on a crowdsourced innovation program, one of the key challenges is finding a way to make participants care about the outcome, but with nonprofit crowdsourced innovation programs, the purpose and outcomes are more readily apparent – you’ll help that organization achieve that goal better, faster, or more broadly.
  • Motivating participants to help support meaningful ideas. One of the key challenges that nonprofits face, of course, is finding enough new resources for promising ideas. One of the benefits of a crowdsourced innovation program, however, is that you can find additional resources to implement ideas outside of your organization (or in other unlikely places). Think of how the Cerebral Palsy Alliance wanted to find ideas that would impact those living with cerebral palsy; a man in Turkey wanted a solar powered wheelchair to help him have access to power more easily and a team in Virginia built a prototype for him. Anyone, anywhere can join the team this way and maximize resources and time.
  • Aligning ideas to key organizational goals. Because nonprofits have a clear mission, it creates concret objectives and criteria by which it is easier to make decisions. It’s less likely that a nonprofit will be distracted by irrelevant or off-topic ideas and will instead focus on impactful innovation.

Those are just a few advantages that nonprofit innovators might have. To learn more about nonprofit innovation, download our complimentary infographic on the subject.

How Should Your Business Find the Next Big Thing?

Disruptive or incremental innovation?

In pop culture, the story of innovation is sudden as a brilliant idea arrives in a flash of genius. The reality of innovation is usually far less dramatic, with hundreds of people at dozens of companies chipping away at a rock and discovering, to their surprise, that all those years of chipping have yielded a beautiful statue. The former is disruptive innovation and although rare, it can happen, while the latter is incremental innovation. So what’s the value of these seemingly competing approaches? And how do you balance the two to find the next big thing in your industry?

Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation enjoys a certain blindness in our way of thinking: We remember successes, not mistakes. If you take every product even companies most celebrated for innovation have ever taken to market, you won’t find a very high batting average of success. Still, there’s a reason for this blindness; when a disruptive innovation arrives, it’s so dazzling that nobody can see anything else.

Or, put simply, it’s finding the next big thing by deciding what it is and swinging for the fences. The value of this strategy is it forces you to look past the belief that what you already have is working, so why change it? Netflix’s streaming video model seems blindingly obvious now, but stop and consider the state of television in 2007. The models of cable subscriptions and broadcast advertising were steadily profitable, proven, and well-integrated in any number of systems. “Internet video” was amateurs on YouTube singing about candy. Netflix only embarked on it because their business of mail-order video rental was well-established and if the product never took off, they had a fallback.

It’s tough to come up with the next Netflix. But stepping back and questioning your industry’s assumptions and direction can reveal new paths and make you think about your industry in new ways.

From tiny seeds…

Incremental Innovation

Incremental innovation, on the other hand, is definitely within your industry’s current direction, and truthfully, it’s hard to get people excited about it. The iPhone is a superb example; ten years after it was announced, the basic product is still the same, just heavily refined.

It may be difficult to get people outside your industry excited about incremental innovation, but it’s still important for two very big reasons. The first is that there’s no disruptive innovation without it. Consider the computer processor; as computing power has improved, incrementally, it’s had an enormous impact on our lives in ways we don’t often appreciate, from safer cars to big data.

The second is that, especially now, you can’t rest on your laurels as a company. Incremental innovation keeps customers interested in your products and it makes them more useful. It encourages your employees to speak up with small ideas now, emboldening them to offer bigger ideas later. And it engages your team with your product, to not take it for granted, to keep thinking about it. If disruptive innovation is about overcoming inertia, think of incremental innovation as increasing momentum, like a snowball rolling down a hill. Sure, it’s not disruptive now, but if it gets up enough speed, look out.

Innovation is a road that stretches ever into the horizon, and it must be walked with both tiny steps and giant leaps. To learn how to better balance disruptive and incremental innovation, join our newsletter.

What Makes a Great Idea!?

what makes a great ideaOur CEO was recently interviewed by the San Francisco Business Times and asked a number of thought-provoking questions about innovation: what sorts of companies struggle with innovation, why is it hard to get an innovation program started, and more. But one of the questions that I found most interesting is trying to describe “what makes a great idea?” After years of working at IdeaScale, here are some of the key qualities shared by great (valuable, launched, and celebrated) ideas.

Great ideas address a human want or necessity. Maybe there are some fabulous ideas out there that serving the greater needs of the grasshopper, but I haven’t heard about them. Which is why most great ideas have a psychological component – consider what human requirement is being satisfied by the idea. The more fundamental or foundational, the more likely it is that your idea is destined for greatness.

Great ideas incorporate trends. Because technology and concepts evolve and shift rapidly, most great ideas are taking advantage of that power in some way: maybe it’s an untapped market segment that’s been uncovered, maybe it’s a new way of delivering services, maybe it’s some powerful new technology, perhaps it’s a new belief or backlash from another new idea. The best ideas are paying attention to these trends and packaging them into their strategy somewhere.

Great ideas (at their core) are easy to explain. A lot of people think that to be successful, an idea needs to be complex. In fact, the full solution can be highly complex, but the foundation of those great ideas can be explained in an elevator pitch, a two sentence summary or in an even more abbreviated shorthand like “It’s the AirBnB of manufacturing” or “it’s like Reddit for ideas.” Relating a great idea to something that people already understand is a great way to create enough interest to get into the nuts and bolts of what makes your idea unique or powerful.

There are, of course, many other things that might be a part of a great idea (like a great team or a startling new technology), but these are just a few of the qualities we see as the most common denominators between them.

What do you think makes for a great idea?

The Rise of the Innovation Department

Companies of all sizes are organizing their innovation programs around their crowds these days. The reason for this is because a great deal of research has emerged that proves the power not just of valuable ideas, but connections between valuable ideas. That’s why companies use systems like IdeaScale where anyone (customers, employees, partners) can submit ideas, combine ideas, build on the ideas of others, and more. That sort of transparency has proven invaluable for fostering connections between promising themes, ideas, trends, proposals, and early-stage concepts. But to manage complex and powerful programs like that, more and more companies are starting innovation departments to manage the flow of ideas.

Innovation Department

And IdeaScale’s annual research has confirmed that this trend is growing. Nearly 40% of IdeaScale’s customer base is managing their idea management program from an innovation department.  Other firms and forecasters are seeing this too, with Accenture reporting “there is  a gratifying increase in the number of innovation departments formalized within company structures.” This number has only continued to grow each year.

Like many emerging disciplines, however, there are some unique challenges for this new department. Here are some of the most obvious ones:

No Established Resources. The roles and responsibilities for the innovation department aren’t yet established, which means that many organizations aren’t sure what innovation teams yet: how many team members, which innovation skills do they need to develop, how much budget should be assigned to innovation programs. Unfortunately, if companies fail to assign adequate resources to these companies, it’s unlikely that the programs will succeed. New ideas need runway for testing and that runway requires money and people.

Developing Processes. For a long time, innovation was considered to be an activity that was exclusive to creators and inventors – and that it couldn’t be programmed or predicted. What innovation management has shown, however, is that good innovation is repeatable – but only when there’s a process for sharing and connecting ideas, building out and testing ideas, and socializing that success far and wide. An innovation department needs to provide process and structure to innovation as one of its responsibilities.

No Fixed KPIs. Finally, without a set of innovation metrics, innovation programs can’t track or articulate their value. As we’ve discussed in the past, there are a variety of things to measure from innovation inputs (like ideas generated and percentage of workforce trained in innovation) to innovation outputs (like revenue generated or customer sentiment improvement). Innovation departments need to decide what to track and then report on it regularly.

What do you think will happen next for the new innovation department?

Why Measuring Innovation Sentiment is Essential

Metrics tell you if you’re working.

Building a great platform and designing a positive innovation strategy that reflects both company culture and vision is a good beginning for any organization looking to become or remain a leader in their industry. But there’s a third component to this: Your employees have to be engaged with the idea of innovating. How do you measure engagement, and what does it mean for innovation?

Why Engagement?

Innovation is most powerful when everyone engages with it, of course, but even a small amount of engagement can tell you some important data about innovation culture at your company and how to foster more of it. In some companies, the entire organization feels a strong need to innovate; in others, innovation can be an uphill battle against tradition, conventional wisdom, or even concerns that change might negatively affect their jobs. Any effective strategy will figure out the baseline, where innovation falls as a priority and how employees feel about it.

It can also be difficult to get a sense of the effectiveness of an innovation platform unless you have some data in front of you. Metrics and data allow you to better understand where your strategy is effective and where you need new approaches. Which brings us to the question: Which metrics?

Measuring Engagement

Some metrics will be self-evident: For example, clicks on your innovation platform, votes on various innovation measures, and comments left on your platform. You should also run satisfaction surveys, which should include a net promoter score, or NPS. The NPS is simple; you ask your employees to rate, from one to ten, how likely they would be to recommend this to a friend?

What do the numbers say?

Others may be more subtle and will depend on your needs. For example, if a platform doesn’t get many clicks, but it gets participation from some important stakeholders who drive innovation, that can tell you where the investment lies and that you need to motivate innovators further in the ranks. If one department, in particular, participates more than another, why are they so invested when others aren’t? Do they feel that innovation doesn’t matter to them? Do other departments feel discouraged from offering ideas? Are they aware the platform is available to them and that you want to hear their ideas?

Applying Metrics

Once you have this data, you need to interpret it. It’s worth remembering that there’s a limit to what metrics can tell you; a metric can tell you how often a mouse is clicked, but not the intent behind the finger. Once you’ve got a sense of the data, it’s worth drafting a more detailed survey asking if your reading of it is correct and giving your employees the opportunity to weigh in with their opinions in a bit more detail.

Every employee and every department will be different in how they react to innovation. Change can be troubling for some people simply because it presents the unknown, while others might be excited for the chance to put a stamp on the company. Metrics allow you to find just what employees think of your innovation strategy, and to reconfigure it and reconsider your assumptions. To learn more about innovation metrics and strategy,  contact us.

Large Scale Health Research that Impacts… All Of Us

All of UsIn case you hadn’t heard, All of Us is a national research effort to gather data from one million or more U.S. participants to accelerate research and improve health by taking individuals’ differences in lifestyle, environment, biology and other factors into account. With the richness of data collection out there and the variety of influencers when it comes to our health, this constitutes an immense research effort on the part of HHS.  And last month, as part of that effort, HHS awarded $21 Million to health centers in order to support their participation in the All of Us research. That investment will help enroll and retain participants, as well as defraying other program costs.

But what can you learn from a large-scale crowdsourced research program like All of Us?

Well, tons, really. This work builds on a key emerging healthcare trend – personalization: how do factors like environment, diet, lifestyle, genetics create a blend of impacts not just in people like you – but you specifically? In the future, big data will lead to highly relevant insights into how each choice we make, each environment we encounter, each part of our genetic make-up will lead to complex consequences and outputs in us.

The All of Us program knows that as part of this effort, they’re going to have to collect, house, and assimilate large databases of information and use that to answer specific questions. In order to organize that effort they decided to reach out to the crowd to prioritize their questions, as well.  The crowd of researchers, doctors, patients and the public could share whatever questions on which they desired answers and vote on the suggestions from others. Top-voted questions concern things like microbial communities and metabolic profiles, obesity, opioid use and tons of other questions – which can now all be sorted and evaluated according to their popularity.

By looking for patterns in the data, researchers may learn more about the factors that affect our health. The program will last for many years and allow us to have in-depth insight into health over time. To learn more about the All of Us research program, check out their IdeaScale community.

Innovation Fear

Innovation FearOur CEO was recently interviewed by the San Francisco Business Times and the conversation pulled up short for a moment when the interviewer (after hearing us talk about the possibilities afforded by an innovation management system) asked us why people are sometimes afraid to launch a crowdsourced innovation program.  So we wanted to take a moment to talk about some common innovation fear that we see from first time innovators.

Fear of Mediocrity. What if the ideas aren’t any good? It’s true that a poorly managed ideation community probably won’t generate the quality ideas that you’re looking for to propel your business or agency forward. Fortunately, it is easy to manage this problem by posting a provocative challenge statement and offering some guidelines that define what sorts of ideas you’re looking for. The crowd will (most often) rise admirably to the challenge.

Fear of Negative Commentary. Public innovation communities face the same challenges as social media. The conversations are broadcast far and wide, but good brands can take a negative comment and turn it on its head. Also, once a well-moderated community is launched, the overall sentiments are overwhelmingly positive. People enjoy interaction and brands that will listen to them. With a good communications strategy, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter innovation trolls.

Fear of Delivery. This is perhaps the most common fear. That if you receive ideas… then you’ll actually have to DO something about them. Well, this is absolutely true. Failure to respond to ideas and implement some of them will undoubtedly cause you trouble. However, you don’t have to implement every idea and ideas that don’t align to your capabilities, resources, and goals shouldn’t be implemented. Find the ideas that have legs and make sure that you launch them and learn from them. For the ideas that don’t make it to implementation, use this as an opportunity to talk about why they’re not a good fit (maybe you don’t have the technology yet, maybe regulations limit your ability to launch an idea, maybe there’s not budget this year). If people feel that they’e be

The fact of the matter is that with transparent systems like these, everyone risks accountability – from the people sharing ideas, to the people who are managing them to the people who are responsible for assigning resources to promising ideas, and beyond. But that accountability is exactly why these systems perform so well, too. If people can see who’s taking responsibility – and that responsibility means communicating around ideas – not necessarily implementing all of them, they will feel that a real effort is being made to create change. And all of those leaders suddenly have tons more resources to draw on – how about those 100 people who voted on that idea? Maybe they want to help build it, review it, test it.

Once you get past the fear, it’s wide open opportunity. How do you think about crowdsourced innovation?