Of course you’re paying attention to the always-on, always connected culture of participation online that is fundamentally shifting how we connect with one another, get our news and alerts, are influenced by people we trust and increasingly making our voices heard when we like or don’t like something a company or organization is delivering to us.
If you’ve read Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, Wikinomics by Don Tapscott, or even the seminal book on the topic, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, than you know about the acceleration in companies looking to figure out how to embrace their customer base and ecosystem for fun and profit (but mostly the profit).
In a growing number of conversations I’m having with business leaders, virtually all of them are either engaged in some form of outreach to their customers, prospects, partners and employees and learning how to engage them in new and online ways. With enough input and smart decision-making, the ability to build and deliver the right products and services goes up dramatically. I thought it a good idea to visit this topic now, especially as there now signs the economy is growing and we’re beginning to experience growth in our trend forecasting businesses, typically one bellwether pointing the way in the housing sector.
Best Buy is the “poster child” for this sort of engagement on a host of fronts. From the employee-only BlueShirtNation (now “Mix“) to Giftag to the relatively new and well executed IdeaX, they’re highly focused on driving forward and engaging on as many fronts as possible.
Though Best Buy is quite public with their offerings — along with an unusual level of transparency and engagement — General Mills is also going out with initiatives like MyBlogSpark to engage women who blog (dubbed “mommybloggers”) in order to engage the typical decision-maker in a household and are the ones who usually drive the family nutrition.
Back in March, the site ReadWriteWeb had a guest author, Tom Powell from Co-Innovative, who wrote this fabulous post on the topic and categorized leading idea and suggestion management vendors with an extensive writeup.
Powell pointed out these three categories of idea and suggestion management vendors:
Anyone can start a product or company page on these sites to submit ideas, suggestions, or complaints, which are then voted up or down, Digg-style, and commented on. Companies pay for access to this data, more powerful features, and the ability to “claim” pages and register official employee moderators. Like review sites such as Epinions, conversation happens on these sites with or without you.
These systems provide similar functionality to that of the centralized aggregators listed above but are controlled and run by the companies themselves. They include features such as ratings (or up/down votes), moderation, the ability to limit the number of votes per user or the access of certain groups, time-limited contests, and automatic searching for duplicate idea submissions.
Integrated Innovation Management Suites:
The idea management portion of these suites generally have more robust capabilities, such as weighting the contributions of users according to expertise and trust, creating virtual currency systems, providing enterprise-class security, and customizing captured information. By integrating idea capturing and prioritization into a more robust and sophisticated system, companies can then evaluate the cost of ideas, put ideas through a formal review process, and track their performance from conception to execution.
So which aggregators should you be paying attention to? Which has the greatest reach? The strongest offering?
Read more of Tom Powell’s post here to discover more.