I have been working on creating tools and methodologies for enterprise collaboration for the past 20 years. The last 5 years were devoted to building idea management platforms and developing effective community management techniques. Idea Management, even according to Gartner, is old news and yet every vendor in this space (except Social Lair) has really not come up with a broader support for what comes before and after idea management.
At Social Lair, we are taking a more holistic view of innovation. Innovation is an iterative process consisting of four steps: Listen - Analyze - Engage - Act. The Social Lair platform is designed to support all four steps.
Listen - The first step is simply to listen to conversations among consumers, employees, and partners. You can do some passive listening by simply monitoring social media conversations. There are two modes of social media listening. You can either configure your social media monitoring module to listen to domain conversations or you can listen with the specific goal of doing competitive analysis and focus only on posts that explicitly mention your brand or your competitors. You can also do some inside-the-wall listening by creating customer communities that allow them to show off the way they use your product or customer service experiences by posting on your community wall.
Analyze - Once you have found a way of effectively listening to all those conversations, you can derive a lot of good insights if you have the right tool at your disposal. At Social Lair, we combine text analytics, sentiment analysis, and social network analysis to identify:
- Competitive strengths and weaknesses
- Conversational themes
- Unmet needs and pain points
- Trouble spots around performance metrics
Engage - The third step involves more active engagement with lead users, employees in the field, and close partners. In this step, you can create communities of different styles. Some may invite lead users to share open ended suggestions about product improvements and ask for predictions and preferences. Some communities may focus on active co-creation and ideation around company-defined theme based on the learning derived from the analysis done in second phase.
Act - This last step is off course what makes everything worth the time and energy spent in the first three steps. In the brave new world of open innovation and collaboration, there is more to the "Act" phase then creating a stealth project for your R&D team. This phase has a lot of room for involving your community (perhaps not quite as large in the listening phase) in provide continuous feedback so that you fail fast and maximize the probability of success.