Motivation and key challenges

There is a growing awareness that knowledge and creative capacity exist also outside to the R&D department, and user-centric innovation is the order of the day. In this context, social media is seen as a promising means to reach external contributors to the innovation process. Social media are increasingly employed to involve users, external experts, or co-workers in collaborative innovation processes.

We understand social media as internet-based solutions supporting mutual sharing and open dialogue between users (Følstad, Ebbesson, Hammer-Jakobsen & Bergvall Kåreborn, 2011). Social media reflects the increasingly participatory character of the internet where anyone, regardless of technical competency, may contribute content, engage in dialogue or provide responses to published material. The internet has been employed to involve users and external experts in innovation processes throughout its existence, as is exemplified by open source software development which rests heavily on community engagement. However, it is only with the general adoption of easy to use social media that the internet has become a viable platform for involvement of a broader spectrum of participants.

Social media are applied for a wide range of innovation purposes. Context knowledge and inspirational material is collected trough social networks and discussion forums. Ideation and early concept development are supported by solutions for user community ideation (such as User Voice) and open innovation platforms connecting seekers and solvers (such as Innocentive). User feedback on prototypes and running versions is provided through solutions adapted to Living Lab innovation purposes (such as OWELA). And, finally, corporate innovation culture is supported by business solutions for microblogging (such as Yammer) and web-based collaborative platforms (such as Jive).

The uses of social media for innovation purposes are varied. At the same time, some key challenges are common across all these purposes:

  • How to design, adapt and utilize social media for a particular innovation need?
  • How to integrate the contributions from social media in the general innovation process?
  • How to recruit and motivate the participants in social media innovation processes?

Read more: Workshop scope and objective

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