What’s the Problem? Often the use of social technologies is a difficult task because legal, marketing or customer service ‘owns’ the permissions to connect with the outside. Furthermore, in many instances, creating a new initiative can require IT, and often (always) IT’s priorities are not yours. So you can use existing social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for business purposes to perform quick studies. Because this can be implemented on the web, there requires no IT involvement, and often no legal involvement. The usual services are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, but not limited to these three as there are many other platforms out there, but I’d start here. Here are some solutions to problems that development teams can often run into:
- Using LinkedIn to answer questions posed around software scripts to solve a technical design problem is popular.
- LinkedIn has over 200 discussion groups related to innovation that can be tapped when questions arise.
- Twitter is being used to generate product ideas and quickly collect survey data around requirements
- More than 150,000 people are members of the Top 20 Innovation Groups in LinkedIn.
So What? Using tools that were thought to be more personal/family/friend oriented are quickly migrating to business applications and in particular, product creation.
- LinkedIn is commonly used to answer questions posed around technical development software scripts, recommendations for cloud services, etc.
- LinkedIn is easy to leverage for its groups and capabilities out of the box to link with others who are working on similar issues.
Besides LinkedIn, one of the most important platforms for product development is Twitter. Below are some examples of how it can be used to accelerate time to market, improve innovation, and improve quality:
- Twitter survey of followers received 225 responses in 1 day for a simple query of “random numbers” for a study on visualization.
- A case study of Twitter based innovation: “Open Innovation: a View from the Top” and the British organizer company, Psion, participated with three top executives including its CEO.
- You can search using the Twitter keyword “#psion“ to see the discussion thread results. The chat took place on Sept. 2. This gave the Psion staff lots of inspiration on what you can actually do with Twitter to promote your innovation capabilities and interact with current and future stakeholders in your ecosystems
- Twitter is an excellent way to do market research. If you want to know more about stay at home moms, follow that group and glean insights for input on product definition.
- Twitter can also be used as a recruiting tool – hiring managers can reach out directly to candidates or they can reach out to their recruiting network.
- Twitter can be used to recruit volunteers to test early alphas AND comment on what they find. If you can risk exposure of your dirty laundry to the world, this can be a great way to get rapid and unvarnished feedback around your new release.
What’s our basis of authority? The increasing trend of powerful social networking platforms and the complexity and challenge of product development triggered our interest in this timely topic. Although we have led development organizations for over 20 years, we wanted to see what new, cutting edge methods might be recently available to improve the generation of breakthrough products. Joined by three Santa Clara University Professors (Tammy L. Madsen, Kumar Sarangee, and Jennifer L. Woolley) who shared our interest and passion, we performed a multi-client benchmark study including Amway, Cisco, HP, IBM, NetApp, and Solidworks.
What do I do about it? The answer for Twitter is pretty easy – but it may take time if you are starting from ground zero. If you don’t have a significant number of followers, you should access the many resources on the web to develop your set of followers. This can be jump started by leveraging your address books in Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo!. If you are lacking followers, the alternative is to leverage the accounts of others while you build your network. On the other hand, for LinkedIn, you can accelerate your network by joining the right groups. Out of the gate you can develop peer networks that you can leverage for mutual gain by using pre-existing groups.
Regardless, don’t wait for the time you urgently need results! Start now with a pilot study, get the networks up and tuned up and tested. By doing this, you are ready to go – and you have all the collateral benefits of being connected.