16 May How to innovate products faster
I’m thrilled to host a small series of blog posts by Jeanne Bradford, a innovative leader with a track record at AOL, Cisco and Apple. Jeanne is a brilliant new product marketer and manager. She shares her wisdom and advice for accelerating innovation in today’s business environment. B.
Social Technology: The New Secret Weapon for Accelerating Innovation & Speed in Product Development
By Jeanne Bradford
Never has it been more important to innovate on an accelerated timeline. Yet many companies are stuck in the myth that you cannot achieve both innovation and speed in new product development. This is not true!
Our research has found that you can get both by tapping the collective minds of your employees and your customers to ideate faster by using social technologies. Many companies use social solutions in marketing and customer support, but they can also apply them to the product development process to increase both innovation and time to market.
The most important aspect of applying social technologies to product innovation is the ability to create a “community” of technical thought leaders where they can share, build upon, and develop ideas. However, you need a methodology to prioritize and implement these solutions. You can apply social communities internally to harness the innovative thinking and problem solving across the company. You can also use them as an ideation and collaboration platform with your customers. For geographically dispersed organizations, social solutions are a superior method for gathering, evaluating, and managing internal ideas. And there are several third-party social collaboration tools that are available from companies including Spigit, BrightIdea, Communispace and Innocentive, to help you collect and manage the new set of data that comes with social innovation.
While similar to the concepts of Open Innovation, broader research demonstrates that applying social technologies can extend throughout the entire product life cycle. The use of community can add value to innovation and accelerate product delivery beyond ideation to product design, testing and early feedback.
The application of new social technologies in the product development space is a new approach for companies, and we see it becoming an increasingly important methodology. TCGen conducted a benchmark study to identify what companies are applying social technologies to product development and to identify emerging best practices. Here are the key takeaways:
- Innovation does not have to be unbounded in time. Social innovation allows teams to innovate quickly and repeatedly compared to the open-ended traditional research approach.
- Social innovation systems reduce the cost of innovation by leveraging ideas and facilitating lean product development with small teams by eliminating travel and using virtual focus groups.
- The quantity of data from a community is not a substitute for quality. The selection of clearly defined, closed communities with screened participants results in higher quality and more relevant input.
- There is no need for investment in homegrown social media tools. Good commercial solutions are available, and many of these are cloud based applications can be applied to product creation out of the box.
- Social innovation tools can provide most of the benefits of in-person Voice of the Customer without the expense of travel. This enables cost effective entry into emerging markets.
- User Generated Content (UGC) in the form of photographs from a well-defined community of provided product designers with a visual image of the product environment.
- There are five fundamental components that enable successful social innovation – mastering them all will lead to “success in a box”. They include: Screening Members, Providing Rewards, Coordinating Corporate Leadership, Hiring Qualified Community Management, and Using Existing Tools. These are “table stakes”.
- The best results came from study participants that mastered three elements – closed and tightly managed communities, time bounded campaigns, and quality user generated content. These separate the “best from the rest”.
Next up – How to get started with Social Innovation!
Jeanne Bradford is co-author of Innovate Products Faster: Graphical Tools for Accelerating Product Development and is a Principal of TCGen. She has delivered products for some of the industry’s best technology companies, including Apple, Cisco, and Texas Instruments. For more information about the book, the scorecard or the above mentioned study, please visit www.tcgen.com