Lithys 2012: National Instruments - Best Business ROI

Lithys 2012: National Instruments - Best Business ROI

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Company: National Instruments

Entry Submitted by: Jordan Groves (jgroves) Web Project Engineer

Community: National Instruments Community  (

Lithy Categories: Best Business ROI

The National Instruments Idea Exchange, which was established in June 2009, provides a quick, excellent medium of direct communication between our customers and our R&D team.

Here at National Instruments, we understand the importance of integrating co-innovation into the product design and development processes.  By giving our lead users the opportunity to provide valuable feedback on our products, not only do we develop better software, but we also demonstrate to our customers that we greatly value their input.  

Before the Idea Exchange was born, we first needed to determine how to best incorporate our top users into our development processes.  


In order to do so, we needed to learn more about our community members.  A survey of the user base returned the following information:


  • 55% of our customers are "active" community users
  • There is a direct correlation between how active a customer is on the forums and how loyal he/she is to the company.

This data reaffirmed our assertion that it would be well worth the effort to pull customers into the NI software development process.






With the main focus being ease of use, National Instruments utilized the Lithium community platform and revealed the new Idea Exchange in the summer of 2009.  Since then, users have submitted over 3,700 ideas – each with candid explanations of why they posted.  


Our Research and Development teams monitor the board and reply directly to the customers’ requests. Over the years, the Idea Exchange has expanded to encompass eight different product boards and has received:


  • Over 3,700 submitted ideas (our initial goal was 500)
  • Over 73,600 votes on ideas
  • 14,565 customer comments
  • Over 56,000 unique visitors

Additionally, the LabVIEW 2011 Beta release included 13 new features that were suggested on the Idea Exchange.


In the end, not only did the Idea Exchange alleviate many users’ frustrations by giving them a direct connection to our developers, but it also increased our productivity, as well.  Our engineers now have an exact picture of which new features are most important to our customers.  


By placing co-innovation as a cornerstone of the product development cycle, we have been able to produce better products.

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Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Looks Great! Best of Luck, NI!