Evolutionary Innovation Topic Modeling

Evolutionary Innovation Topic ModelingI’ve been studying EMC innovation data from the last five years and have enlisted internal data scientists to help improve our global innovation processes.

In a previous post I described how one data scientist used Topic Modeling to learn which topics generate the highest idea submission count from global employees.

Another interesting area of analysis is to visualize topic trends over time. For example, what were employees thinking about in regards to cloud and big data over the last few years? The Stanford topic modeling toolkit allows data scientists to answer these types of questions. The following graph shows topic variance over the last three years of our Showcase.


In my last post I mentioned that Topic 22 represented employee engagement, and clearly this topic peaked in 2011.  Big Data is represented by Topic #4, and Cloud is represented by Topic #9.

Employees have consistently submitted 60 ideas per year related to cloud computing.  Their ideas, however, evolved in ways that are fairly consistent with important cloud trends (e.g. hybrid clouds). Consider the commonly used words from this topic, and their evolution from 2009 to 2011.


For Big Data, the 2010 acquisition of Greenplum by EMC had a significant impact on the submission by employees in 2011.


How can the company best leverage this view into the thoughts of global innovators?

The first strategy is to create compelling innovation events and communications that focus on trending, popular topics. Our idea repository contains a list of inventors that contributed to a given topic, along with a list of the words that they use most often. Both pieces of data can be used to arrange brainstorming sessions and invite the right participants on the most relevant topics.

A second strategy is to watch for new topics that are not on the corporate radar. These “gaps” coming from the wisdom of the crowd could be surfaced to the executive level as potential new directions.

In future posts I will explore other views that EMC data scientists are providing on the important topic of innovation and corporate strategy.

image credit: zakgear.com

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Steve ToddSteve Todd is Director at EMC Innovation Network, and a high-tech inventor and book author “Innovate With Global Influence“. An EMC Intrapreneur with over 180 patent applications and billions in product revenue, he writes about innovation on his personal blog, the Information Playground. Twitter: @SteveTodd

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3 Responses to Evolutionary Innovation Topic Modeling

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