Accelerating Social Innovation - A Few People Can Get A Lot Done

 We recently conducted a multi-client benchmark study identifying best practices in the application of social technologies to the product development process.  One of the ten best practices highlighted how study participants jump-started their innovation process through the use of small, dedicated resources whose missions were to manage social technology-assisted innovation.

Centers of Excellence and dedicated resources are critical for the success in large-scale adoption of social innovation.


Companies understand the importance of leveraging technology for innovation.  To do this effectively, they have small, dedicated teams manage social technology-assisted innovation.

Six applications of dedicated resources were identified that resulted in the rapid adoption of social innovation:

1.     Develop & utilize social media and innovation experts within a company to provide focus and learning that can be re-created and shared.

2.     Provide an economy of scale when adding new social media campaigns.  This allows teams to easily customize and avoids “re-inventing the wheel”.

3. Increase social media “literacy” within the organization to optimize the value of customer feedback.

4.     One participant put in place an executive leadership role (VP of Innovation) to ensure that social technologies are leveraged by the organization efficiently and in a common way.

5.     The VP of Innovation guides these resources and works with key functions like Legal and Marketing to help the project teams be successful.

6.     Dedicated resources (either centralized or distributed) apply common tools and customizable frameworks that enable sharing of data from different sources.  In cases where it is not centralized, community managers provide this function.

Dedicated resources ensure the balance of commonality & customization where there exist multiple social innovation campaigns.  Even in small companies, dedicated resources are a good investment – they ensure that campaigns are focused, and data is managed.

The Results:  Centers of Excellence and/or dedicated resources provided high impact contributions throughout the product development process

1.     Several study participants have teams as small as 3 that support thousands of employees.

2.     Dedicated executive leadership legitimized the process and ensured alignment with corporate objectives.

3.     Centers of excellence (distributed or centralized) resulted in faster implementation of social media campaigns, avoided duplication of effort, and created a platform to share data from multiple sources.

The adoption of social technologies in the product development is redefining how companies are delivering high quality products to market.  Developing core expertise in the organization allows for accelerated implementation and focus on best practices