In the past decade, technology leapt beyond laptop screens onto phones, tablets, clothing and even glasses. Just a four-year span saw the founding of Facebook and Twitter, the launch of the iPhone and Appstore and the unveiling of Android. Because these innovations built upon one another through the shared platform of the Internet, they could leverage communities to create ecosystems on the web — and the progression from creation, to awareness of what was happening, to widespread disruption was the shortest in human history.
This rate of advancement created unprecedented pressures on expectations for business technologies. Yet, consumer technology’s use of communities also revealed an answer. By using communities, businesses can look beyond their four walls to access a global talent pool and drive rates of innovation that rivals consumer technology advancements.
Communities allow businesses to accelerate and scale innovation by widening the funnel of what they can evaluate, by filling in missing skills and talent, and flattening the distance between the idea and successful execution.
1. Widen the funnel
“We have many ideas, but flushing out even the basic parts of them to see the concept in action costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to understand feasibility. So we don’t follow up, or just pick one or two to make a bet on.” – Fortune 50 Enterprise
In reality, for most companies, innovation starts as a result of high-level brainstorming in the C-suite office and narrows down to a couple of scenarios, normally dictated by the loudest voices and then delegated to someone lower on the totem pole. Compare this method of innovation to the world of venture capitalists — they have the opportunity to see hundreds of companies before selecting which ones to invest in, and then can continue to fund the most promising of those ventures. Narrowing to a couple of ideas too quickly makes innovation a political activity rather than a process.
An essential part of changing this process is to lower the cost of experimentation, both organizationally and technically. Organizationally, distinguishing communications, incentives and recognition when setting innovation goals (as opposed to executing ideas) creates room for more fluid activity and also sets collective expectations more appropriately. Technically, lowering the cost of prototyping solutions allows business stakeholders to react to a real experience and use it to understand the change in behavior they are hoping for. It also creates a common narrative between business and IT on what is possible with today’s technology. Using models like crowdsourcing through communities not only lowers the cost of experimentation but also can provide multiple data points on your idea and an outside-in view of what core elements need to be constructed to take it to production.
You can read this post in its entirety on Huffington Post’s The Blog.