How To Develop A Social Innovation Network

Customers already use social technologies to wrest power away from large corporations. Now employees are adapting social technologies in pursuit of innovations to support these empowered customers; Forrester calls these employees HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives). By designing social technologies as part of their Innovation Networks, CIOs and their IT teams help establish new Social Innovation Networks — innovation ecosystems employing social technologies to enhance HEROes' innovations. These Social Innovation Networks help drive faster, more effective innovation across the enterprise. And CIOs must rise to the challenge of nurturing and developing these networks while structuring their IT teams to fully support them.

In an earlier post, I described how we’re entering a new era of social innovation. Building on these concepts in subsequent research has led to the latest report “CIOs: Support HEROes – Create Social Innovation Networks Using The PACT Framework” (and yes, I’m guilty of introducing yet another acronym).

PACT: Process, advocates, culture, and technology

A Social Innovation Network is an innovation ecosystem that uses social technologies to enable HEROes to innovate and collaborate. And CIOs play an important role in helping develop effective Social Innovation Networks. The PACT framework outlined in the report suggests CIOs should begin with understanding (and developing if necessary) the innovation process which determines how ideas are moved through the organization. The next step involves developing a group of advocates to help drive adoption of the Social Innovation Network throughout the enterprise. Next comes culture because without an empowered culture the Social Innovation Network will fail to deliver the expected innovation. And finally, technology  — but not just a single technology. The Social Innovation Network relies upon a number of social technologies as an integrated system for innovation (see the graphic below).

How is your organization supporting innovation with social technologies — share your insights below or on Twitter @NigelFenwick.

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A bit weak

While this framework is somewhat interesting, there are major disconnects between this and how innovation actually takes place. There is nothing here about the problems being addressed or how problems are conceived. Really social media here seems to be no more than a communication tool (which it largely is). That is the real story, not that innovation emerges autochthonically from mere communication tools.

A bit weak

Thanks "Puppet SEO" for your feedback. I understand your perception - it may be that reading the full research piece would help fill the gaps for you. The report goes into more detail on how social technologies support and energize the innovation process - it wasn't my intention to suggest innovation comes from simply having social technologies. However, where a solid innovation process is combined with social technologies, great things can happen. The PACT framework intentionally puts technology last.

Is forrester eating its own dog food

Sorry to say, but I have some issues on reading a blog that redirects to a report not openly available ... Is this blog only for Forrester subscribers or and advertising blog only?
If yes, you should state it clearly.
If not, you should provide a minimum of information to enable the discussion. If I need to buy a book or buy your report to understand your point, I does not provide rooms for discussion.
And that leads to my initial question, is Forrester eating its own HERO dog food? Do you have a social innovation network at Forrester? How do you socially connect with your clients, followers? Consulting firms in general are very reluctant to enable social exchanges between their clients.

Is Forrester eating its own dog food?

Thanks El Kaim for your feedback. While some of my blog posts pull from research reports published for our clients (which are also available for non-clients to purchase individually), my intent is to share key findings and nuggets from the research with everyone so as to generate interest, discussion and feedback. Adding a reference to the report helps clients to find the relevant research. However, the key point of my post was to highlight the increasing use of social technologies in the innovation process and to share the elements of the PACT framework with a view to generating discussion around how innovation is or is not supported by social technologies in reader's organizations.

To answer your question around whether or not we eat our own dog food by implementing our own recommendations; the answer is yes where they are appropriate. Iā€™m sure you understand that it would be a disservice to our clients to withhold analyst recommendations based solely on whether or not our own management had already implemented our recommendations - the role of a research firm is to provide insight and analysis of what we see in the market to help our clients make better decisions. In many cases our own management learns from our research just as our clients do.

And yes, we do indeed connect socially with clients. We use a variety of social models to engage, including blogs such as this (, social communities (both open - - and client-exclusive communities), Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

So how about you ā€“ how does your organization engage with customers through social technologies? Are you seeing social technologies help in the innovation process?

Inverted Social Networks

Dear Nigel, thank you for this very interesting post.
while I agree that social media / tools can be very helpful for innovation, the tools are useless when disconnected from managerial and organizational issues.
[self-promotion comments removed]
Looking forward to reading more of your interesting reports / articles.