The New Era Of Social Innovation

If the seventies and eighties were dominated by technology-led innovation, with IT in the driving seat, the nineties and two thousands was surely the period of marketing-led innovation. With the emergence of social computing as such a big influence on business, spreading rapidly beyond the sole domain of marketing, it seems we are entering a new era - the era of Social Innovation.

In this era, innovation will be driven by empowered customers and employees and IT and Marketing will need to join forces and collaborate as never before. The CIO and the CMO, IT and Marketing, will jointly power this new era of Social Innovation by bringing together their extensive domain expertise to create a Social Innovation Network.

The way I see it, true Social Innovation goes beyond customer interaction and idea generation, it requires a powerful and coordinated network of players to take customer-generated innovation and to test, scale and implement it. IT has a key role to play in this Social Innovation Network as the broker, helping to connect the network players and components and to establish the management, strategy and technological backbone of the network.

We can see many examples of social communities being used as the foundation of effective social innovation, with idea communities such as Starbuck's "" and Dell's created to source customer-led innovation. Internal collaboration communities within the organizations are already being established. In the Social Innovation Network these collaboration communities are used by cross-functional innovation teams whose aim it is to sift, test and scale ideas. As new innovations are rolled out, social media continues to be used to engage the customer through blogs and community kudos to build word-or-mouth awareness.

I also explored this topic in a recent teleconference: Driving Growth Through Social Innovation Networks.

What do you think? Do you see a new era of Social Innovation upon us? Is your organization ready for a Social Innovation Network?

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re: The New Era Of Social Innovation

Great framework for thinking through the changes that are here already. Novel incentive schemes and 'distributed' management techniques are emerging alongside the 'frictionless' social media - all promising facilitators for Social Innovation.

Regarding the Social Innovation Network, IT will have a role being a Broker but I would assume that IT can play the other three roles too - unless you mean IT to be the Infrastructure provider to the Network.

In addtion, if IT is being the Broker we will need new models for compensating IT since the other three parties have royalties, profits and assets to share. We certainly don't want IT out in the cold!

re: The New Era Of Social Innovation

I agree Gagan - IT can play more than just the role of Broker although this is a key role in the success of an innovation network. IT staff certainly have a role to play as transformers and this is where we will also see more IT roles being focused on social media - I think there is certainly a role for an IT Social Strategist also - a senior IT exec that pulls together all things social for IT and works closely alongside marketing.

re: The New Era Of Social Innovation

As an owner of an outsource IT company in Atlanta for over a decade, I found this post relevant and thought provoking. I've have seen first hand what you've described and you are absolutely correct.

Back in the "old days" you could make good money in IT just simply being the nerdy, anti-social guy that didn't know anything about marketing.

That sure isn't the case anymore is it? Now you have to be smart and savvy in marketing, social media and communications with the IT knowledge almost being secondhand, as strange as that sounds.

I think being able to adapt is key, and so far so good here in Atlanta. I'd be curious to hear what other people think about all this. :)

re: The New Era Of Social Innovation

Thanks for the feedback Diana.