Social networks of ideas: an explosion of creativity for your business

3 min reading
Developers / 27 August 2014
Social networks of ideas: an explosion of creativity for your business

BBVA API Market

“What's known to you is often a mystery to others. Your mind is full of treasures that no one else has seen. Pass them on. An idea shared is not diminished: It's multiplied”. Writer Jessica Hagy summarizes very well with these words the trend towards the democratization of the process of creating ideas which is spreading not only among citizens, but also among many businesses.

The so-called “social networks of ideas” are platforms where all creative voices have a place. Their aim is not only to break one-way communication, but also bidirectional interactions, establishing instead a plural collaboration environment. For an entrepreneur or a small business this procedure may result in a collaborative exchange with other entrepreneurs or professionals with the common goal of obtaining new information and develop proposals and solutions with different points of view.

Ideas4all

Among the existing social network platforms, proposals such as Ideas4all stand out featuring an online space open to everybody and easy to use, where enterprising individuals can search and find support to launch their business proposals. In general, they are simple participation channels, thanks to different functionalities such as the division of ideas in thematic or strategic categories and/or the use of gamification and motivational techniques (i.e. generating challenges, competitions, points systems and awards for the most active members).

Under the title Innovation Agora, Ideas4all, for example, offers a tool that can improve an original idea thanks to the participation of other users, creating a sort of “collective brain”. Thus, this tool helps to share ideas based on specific needs, while improving productivity and work quality; it opens the possibility to opt for a 2.0 innovation environment, and in addition it strengthens the economy of a business with resources such as contests of ideas that drive entrepreneurial projects and their subsequent implementation.

From this type of process can arise, for example, initiatives such as the call created by Ideas4all for Mutua Madrileña. Under the name Ideas Mutua, the insurance company aims to improve certain aspects of the business with the collaboration of its staff. The initiative has received in its latest edition more than 500 proposals from its employees within different departments, who met to study and apply them along with the committee and the president of the company.

Another company joining this sort of initiatives is Heineken Spain, which conducted between May and June 2012 a pilot project in the same network with a small group of employees. With the platform Ingenia: destapa las ideas (Ingenia uncovers the ideas), the company sought ideas to improve its business. Given its success, in a few months the initiative was extended to all the employees in Spain. In a short time Heineken generated hundreds of ideas for new products, packaging and marketing formats.

OpenIDEO

This same objective is also behind the network OpenIdeo, which in the section Challenges and with the sponsorship of a company asks its users how would they improve different aspects of that business, or about the world around us.

In this sense, for example, Coca-Cola launched a challenge to find ideas on how to improve recycling techniques in our homes. Users had to generate ideas on this subject, improving them through comments and develop a prototype of the solutions. At the end of the challenge the top ten ideas were delivered to the sponsor to implement them.

Open Innovation

This system of work has been called for some time Open Innovation, as in this type of innovation processes the Department of R&D extends to external professionals, opening a company’s range of possibilities in the market and at much more affordable costs, also for small entrepreneurs

An example of Open Innovation is the toy manufacturer Lego, which allows you to design a new concept or figure using its pieces and upload it to an online platform. If your design achieves 10,000 votes from the public, an internal jury will evaluate the proposal’s feasibility and decide on its production. In addition, the designer receives a percentage of the sales of that product.

And although not all companies receive such an overwhelming response as Lego, imagine what it is to have an unlimited number of creators of ideas for your company. The cost of having a research and development team is high and not suitable for most entrepreneurs, but there are alternatives available if your goals are very clear and you access the world of Open Innovation and social networks of ideas.

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