Optimizing Innovation – Dr. Ellen Levy of LinkedIn

by Braden Kelley

Dr Ellen Levy of LinkedInWe are happy to bring you some of the key points and insights from Dr. Ellen Levy’s talk at the Optimizing Innovation Conference, which was held October 21-22, 2009 in New York City.

Dr. Ellen Levy, VP of Corporate Development and Strategy at LinkedIn was the opening speaker at the event. She set the stage by talking about how social networking is not a fad, and how the key elements of a successful network are identity (authenticity/ownership), trust, and reputation.

As an example of the importance of trust, she described how on the same day that LinkedIn started allowing people to add headshot photos to their profile, they also launched a feature that allowed other users to say “never show me a photo.” This is of course key for people like HR managers who need to systematically avoid being biased by things like photos in their screening processes.

Dr. Levy went on to describe how the problem now is not access to information, but information overload. Now of course the manual solution would be to spend more time doing things like answering email, but at the same time there could also be technology solutions like having artificial intelligence determine which emails to answer. There is of course a third way, and that would be to solve the problem using social inferences. Think about the Amazon recommendation engine as an example, and think about extending that to show you books that were also purchased by other heads of innovation.

Switching our attention to open innovation, there is a very real reason for having a broad range of sources for ideas, and companies are trying to figure out how to handle this. A lot of business books assume you will have the ability to look up information about people, that they are trustworthy, and that you will be able to reach out them. These same books also assume that people halfway around the world will actually want to work with you. This is one of the keys to open innovation – identifying how to make these trusted connections and finding ways to grab their attention.

She closed by admitting that their iPhone application is not as good as it could be. She did say however that they not only have a newer iPhone application coming, but they are also building an API for site owners to use.

So, how can you take advantage of the things that are taking place on the consumer internet in your business?

Optimizing Innovation Conference

Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

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