1. Adoption - There is no doubt online communities are valuable and powerful, but there is no value if your community is an empty dance floor. Generic communities based on generic tools, often have no stated purpose and employees or customers don't know why they should go there. Idea Portals are a proven way to get very rapid uptake because there is something in it for the end user. Either participating in the product direction or cutting costs instead of headcount...there's an obvious 'What's in it for me?' and that drives rapid adoption out of the gate.
2. ROI - In today's environment the bean counters are holding the purse strings pretty tightly. So a technology looking for a problem is dead on arrival. However with Innovation we are often talking to our customers about Millions, Hundreds of Millions and Billions of dollars. By connecting the benefits of social networking with the innovation process the ROI is obvious, immediate, quantifiable and large.
3. Innovation is a Social Activity - and can not be managed or automated with older transaction-or workflow-based enterprise software. By allowing individuals to interact with Innovation Management and Measurement is the first true killer app of the social software revolution.
4. Important Stuff Falls Through the Cracks with Horizontal Communities and Platforms - Like stock market bubbles, this is a lesson that has be re-learned with every generation. The instinct to build a one-size-fits-all solution to "capture more of the market" almost always leads to failure. Vendors that focus on specific niches, sub-categories, roles, functions, jobs and even specific tasks as customer is trying to get done - deliver more value, and win out in the end. If your social networking platform is generic, beware, you may be fighting with one hand tied behind your back.
5. Your Company May be Trying to Create a "Culture of Innovation" - Right Now! - Sit in on an executive meeting and the topic of innovation is likely to come up many times. By tying the roll-out of an internal social networking platform to the innovation process you ensure you are aligned with the goals of the company and your budget is less likely to be cut.
6. It's Fun! - How would you like to see all the best ideas your group, department or company has to offer? And all the innovative projects people are working on? By working on these systems, you literally get to see the future of the company as it takes shape.
7. Silo Busting is More Important to Innovation than Anything Else the Company Does - Social Networks naturally break down silos, increase communication and enable ad hoc relationships to form... while that can be helpful in areas such as customer support, it is EXACTLY what is needed in corporate innovation, where the current organizational structure often the culprit stifling creativity and collaboration. Innovation is the killer app for this new paradigm.
8. Innovation Data HAS to be Controlled by the Company - As employees proactively reach for consumer Web 2.0 tools to make their job easier with out approval from the IT department, dangerous data-ownership issues arise quickly. A seemingly harmless employee- or customer user- group setup on facebook can spring a leak in your intellectual property regime. Do you really want the intellectual property rights of your company's latest ideas to be subject to facebook's latest terms of service? Saavy CIO's will be ahead of the curve to set standards for where these types of communities can reside.
9. Inter-Company Collaboration - Many innovation initiatives involve customers, partners or suppliers. An online social network is a great way to have 'facetime' and maintain relationships when you don't see those people every day.
10. It's easy to get started - You don't need to establish an enterprise wide roll-out strategy, to run a group or product-focused brainstorm. If you are hearing "Innovate in a Recession" or "Do More with Less" you can launch your first Innovation Community in a few hours.
Thanks for listening, I'd love to hear your perspective on this. Until next time, Keep Innovating...