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%3EF-Secure%3C%2FA%3E%2C%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fcommunity.giffgaff.com%2Ft5%2FSubmit-Great-giffgaff-Ideas%2Fidb-p%2Fideas_01%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3EGiffgaff%3C%2FA%3E%2C%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fcommunity.jigsaw.com%2Ft5%2FMember-Idea-Exchange-MIX%2Fidb-p%2Fmemberideaexchange%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3EJigsaw%3C%2FA%3E%2C%20%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fforums.ni.com%2Ft5%2FNI-Idea-Exchange%2Fct-p%2Fideas%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3ENational%20Instruments%3C%2FA%3E%2C%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fcommunity.spotify.com%2Ft5%2Fideas%2Fv2%2Fideaexchangepage%2Fblog-id%2Fideaexchange%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3ESpotify%3C%2FA%3E%2C%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fforums.verizon.com%2Ft5%2FShare-Your-Ideas-with-Verizon%2Fidb-p%2Fideas%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3EVerizon%3C%2FA%3E.%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EHope%20this%20helps!%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EJoe%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E
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Occasional Advisor
Occasional Advisor

The value of an Idea Exchange

@community 

I'm working on a plan to launch an Idea Exchange and I'd really like to get a dedicated resource for it but to do that, I'll need to justify the cost and work effort. Has anyone taken time to build a business case for an idea exchange? I'm wondering if @JoeC or @MikeW have some ideas about how to formulate the value and value statement...

 

Thanks!
Gina

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CCO Emeritus

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

Hi Gina:

 

I was hoping to turn up a case study with ROI, but no luck. Lacking that, following is a list of benefits that I hear companies cite the most often when launching ideation.  

 

First some tactical benefits:

 

  • Better ideas – Current processes for generating product ideas often don't result in products that customers want and need. An idea exchange can produce better ideas by making the ideation process more customer focused.
  • Faster ideas – The product development process usually incorporates steps for bringing in the customer (surveys, focus groups, etc.) after products are designed. How much faster would product development be if it began with customer insights in the first place?
  • Lower cost per idea – Survey and focus groups can be expensive to conduct, and analysis afterwards to define, refine and prioritize the results adds even more to the cost.  Customers could help you refine (through comments) and prioritize (through voting) those an idea exchange.
  • Validation for ideas that are currently in process – Product teams typically are already working on many ideas that customers ask for every day. Data from idea exchanges can be used to validate and support these ideas already in the process, eliminating the need to do this through other channels like surveys.

 

Next, some strategic benefits:

 

  • Supports strategic initiatives to “put the customer at the center of our business.”  As a practical matter, there aren’t many ways you can actually bring the customer into your business, and this is one of them.
  • Lends credence to claims of open and collaborative business practices.  Public dialogue around your products and how they can improve, shows the public that you’re living the values you espouse.
  • Rewards and incents your powerusers and fans.  Your most engaged customers are hungry for opportunities to share their wants and needs with you and with each other.  Ideation puts this energy to good use, while bonding them further to your organization.
  • Provides an avenue out of difficult conversations with customers.  Having an idea exchange can provide a graceful way to exit difficult conversations with your customers on a positive note. Instead of answering “no” to a request, you can say “no, but we have a place where you can suggest this as a feature in future products.” 

 

One additional benefit that Verizon cites is the way an Idea Exchange can help “cut out the middleman” between product managers and customers.  Product managers can not only see what customers are saying, but actually take part in the conversation, asking clarifying questions, offering feedback, and sharing status on improvements. And this is available in real-time, not just when the product group has time to launch a survey or a focus group.

 

By the way, none of this is to minimize the value of product managers own knowledge and insights, or the value of traditional tools like surveys or focus groups.  But most companies today believe that ad hoc, customer-driven ideation can teach even the best product managers new things, and complement or in some cases replace traditional research tools.

 

Here’s always my key piece of advice when it comes to ROI, on ideation or community in general: find out how your company measures, and measure your own efforts likewise. In other words, put your case in the language that your company understands. For example, it makes sense to do some homework on how ideas make their way into your products today. Some companies have internal process for gathering, implementing, and quantifying ideas that employees submit for improving products or processes. If I were creating an idea exchange, I’d certainly want to piggyback on that, if it exists.  Likewise, if your customer survey group has data that shows customers want a voice in product development, you should know that too – and add it to your business case. 

 

Finally, in some ways, by talking about value, we started at the wrong end of this question. For me, the right starting point is, what will be the focus of my idea exchange?  Will I open it up to ideas about any of our brands, products or services?  Or will I start with one?  An important consideration: which brand/product/service group in my company understand the importance of customer input and will be willing to commit to implementing some of the ideas customers share?  I’d go so far as to say, if you have no support from the product organization, then you shouldn’t collect ideas on products.  Never make promises with your technology that your processes can’t keep. 🙂

 

BTW, I also took a look around to see if there were any ROI cases on ideation. I didn't find any, but there are a couple of webcast presentations (one and two) we've done that discuss ideation. 

 

Also, while I was at it, I gathered some examples of ideation on Lithium customer sites. Who knows, maybe you'll run into the community managers here on Lithosphere, and pick their brains too: Best BuyBTF-SecureGiffgaffJigsaw,  National InstrumentsSpotifyVerizon

 

Hope this helps!

Joe

 

 

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Esteemed Contributor
Esteemed Contributor

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

Gina, is your community a support community, a marketing community, or a mixed bag? How you approach the ROI will probably differ depending on the kind of community you're running.

We launched our community with an Ideas Exchange, so we didn't build out a separate ROI for it. However, I can see a couple of ways we could defend it after the fact.

Firstly, our community is making our company a certain amount of money per month in assists revenue (calculated with Google Analytics). If we were to determine the proportion of page views that the Ideas Exchange receives vs. the amount the rest of the community receives, we can figure the value proportionately.

Another factor would be how ideas are being received by your company without having an Ideas Exchange already. You might be cutting down support volume. Previously, our ideas were all submitted via Support. If every idea and every idea comment was a support call, we've reduced Support volume by about 600 calls in the past year, and that's not counting people who kudoed the idea or viewed it and decided not to call in. The total call number would be a lot higher when you factor that in.

Some of the ideas are bound to result in enhancements to your product or service that generate revenue. If you put a feature in your product that otherwise wouldn't have existed as a direct result of an idea, you can factor that revenue into your figure as well. Unfortunately, this is probably impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy. However, I'm sure there are companies doing this already that would be willing to give you a ballpark figure as a sort of case study.
Jim - Former Webroot Community Specialist
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Occasional Advisor
Occasional Advisor

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

Thanks for your help Jim! To answer your question, we are a support community.
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Occasional Advisor
Occasional Advisor

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

Thanks very much for your reply Joe. Helpful and insightful as usual.
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CCO Emeritus

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

My pleasure, Gina!
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Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

Sorry to hijack.

What is the best practices for Idea Exchange?

Do you set the requirement of having the idea gather a certain number of kudos before it will be escalated for consideration? If yes, what is the recommended number? What is the treatment for those ideas that have not gather enough kudos?
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Occasional Commentator
Occasional Commentator

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

@JoeC- I'm attempting to justify a community site to the powers that be and alongside that an open ideation page. We already have an "idea exchange" program that includes several other programs to meet with clients through cohorts, focus groups, etc, however our clients are asking for a more transparent suggestion box in addition to the programs.  Leadership would prefer to provide a select number of ideas to vote on rather than have the larger audience submit feedback and suggestions. but I feel very strongely that it should be open or at least open to registered members. Have you come across anything that supports this?

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CCO Emeritus

Re: The value of an Idea Exchange

Hi Marissa -

 

Seems to me there are three considerations embedded in your question:

 

Should the idea exchange allow users to submit ideas, or just comment and rate the ideas you present to them?

Should the idea exchange be open for browsing to all users, or just to registered users?

Should the idea exchange be open for all registered users to participate, or for just a subset of users to participate?

 

Based on my observations, companies get the biggest benefit from allowing users to contribute ideas, in a public forum that is visible to all users and open for all registered members to participate. Allowing all users to contribute ideas means you aren't limited to just those ideas you already know about; making the exchange public makes it easier for all users to see if their idea has already been suggested (or even implemented), which increases satisfaction and reduces repetitive requests; and allowing all registered users to participate simpy recognizes that you really don't know who might come up with the next great idea.

 

Having said that, we've seen many different configurations for idea exchanges, and I don't think it makes sense to be religious about always needing to be one way only. However, there are some potential pitfalls to be avoided. First, if you do limit participation to comments, or limit participants to a small group, I think you might want to create a time-limited "session" for ideation, rather than just launching it and leaving it open on an ongoing basis. Ideation is somewhat scale-sensitive - you need a lot of participant to really make it useful, because you need a lot of votes to make prioritization possible. You can potentially drive a lot of participation from a small group of people, but only if you do it over a short period of time, and promote the heck out of it. Because a small group generally won't be able to keep the conversation going over weeks and months.

 

So I wouldn't necessarily say that your internal stakeholders are wrong -- in fact, maybe doing something like a short-term ideation exercise is exactly what they need to "get their feet wet" and start feeling comfortable with the process. Having said that, your instincts about where the most value lies are absolutely right!

 

Also tagging @CesarC for his thoughts -- he's the guy I turn to on topics related to ideation.

 

Hope this helps.

 

And @KaiBoon, sorry I missed your post!

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