The more I work on the intersection of social media tools and open innovation, it becomes clearer to me that companies need a multi-target approach on efforts in this intersection.
One reason is that most open innovation efforts lie in three different circles. There is often a significant overlap, but we still need to look at each of them separately. These circles are:
The Innovation Community: Here we have thought leaders, academics, consultants, service providers and corporate voices on innovation. This community can bring credibility to the innovation capabilities of a company and this credibility can turn out to be very important in the next circle, the innovation ecosystem.
The Innovation Ecosystem: This is the most important circle for companies serious about open innovation as this is where things actually happen. The ecosystem includes the partners (primarily other companies, institutions and universities) that help create the innovation output. It is very much about business-to-business.
Today, very few companies are limited to just one choice when it comes to picking which partners to innovate with. This takes us back to the credibility that can be earned in the innovation community. Let’s say that a potential partner googles your company and discovers that your company is mentioned in blogs, articles and that you or your colleagues talk at conferences. This will put you in a better position than other potential partners not having this credibility. Of course, this goes both ways…
Customers and Users: Some companies and industries more than others need to pay serious attention to the third circle, which is their own customers and users as well as those of their partners in the innovation ecosystem. This is more about business-to-consumer than the business-to-business focus we see in the innovation ecosystem.
The importance of each circle varies from company to company and so does the overlap between the circles. Companies need to find out how this works for them and since the circles are different, they also need to apply different social media tools to them.
Comments are highly appreciated.
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation