Today people use social media to interact with one another regardless of geographic boundaries, easily sharing information, discussing common interest, collaborating on ideas, and building a network of relationships. Consumer are also using their social networks to seek advice, discuss and offer recommendations on products and services. Companies who are engaging in social media strategies aimed at facilitating engagement and two-way conversations (crowdsourcing) with customers provide insight that can and does impact product design, development and even the production of goods and services. This ability to gain product feedback in a relatively inexpensive way is quickly becoming one of social media’s biggest benefits. Monitoring social networks is a good first step to using social media in product development. Product designers and managers can not only learn what customers like an don’t like about their products but can also get ideas on improvements as well as what new features and functions might appeal to consumers in the future. A company that is not only using the wisdom of social listening for product development but was also built on crowdsourcing is Sundial Brands. Sundial Brands learned early on that listening and acting upon what was said was one of the clearest ways to show that the brand cared. The Sundial Brand Story Born in Liberia, Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Drawing from deep traditions born out of his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from his grandmother, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and cultural experiences into natural bath and body care products, co-founding Sundial with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema. Sundial remains true to the deep family legacy and inspiration of Richelieu’s grandmother, Sofi Tucker. Building upon her foundation, Sundial’s products are inclusive, serving all people to address underserved issues such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots and the special needs of textured hair, as well as consumer demands for efficacious natural products.
Ice cream is a perennial favourite dessert or sneaky late night treat for most of us. Four All Ice Cream in Kitchener, Ontario, has taken the universal appeal of ice cream to heart. When Ajoa Mintah decided to pursue her dream of starting an ice cream company, she did this with an awareness of the importance of community. Four All is committed to using locally sourced ingredients which keeps Four All inextricably connected to local farmers and producers. This sense of connectivity plays out in the categories of frozen treats that they produce because there is something for everyone: Childhood, Vegan, Foodie (creative flavours), and Classic.
Were you aware that a small staff of six are working to save the lives of LGBTQI people all over the world? As the name Rainbow Railroad implies they work to discreetly move people out of dangerous circumstances into safe houses, and often on to a safe haven in a new country. Their name is intended to pay homage to the Underground Railroad that began in the 1780s. In April of this year, the abduction, detentions, torture and deaths of 200 plus LGBTQI Chechens were documented by the media. What you may not realize is that this is a global problem. Homosexuality is illegal in over 70 countries, several of which impose a death sentence. Living in a country where homosexuality has been decriminalized does not guarantee one’s safety. Rainbow Railroad has grown to a team of six employees (five in Canada, and one in the United States) and obtained charitable status in 2013. The inspiration to begin Rainbow Railroad came from a homeless Palestinian youth during World Pride in Tel Aviv in 2006. Supported by an active board of directors and countless volunteers, this organization has assisted more than 300 individuals to date.
Climate change is one of the hottest topics in the news these days (no pun intended); and it is wreaking havoc on our oceans. They are now in a state of peril, from issues such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, leading to massive concerns like coral bleaching and massive marine life die off. Scientists are working to gain an understanding of what is happening in our oceans; the shoreline presents itself as one challenging zone to gather information on. “Researchers and scientists have been scrambling to obtain baseline information about changing ocean chemistry for the past several years, but collecting data in a nearshore environment like the surf zone with high-energy dynamics is not easy.” (Surfrider) “Science knows alot about the deep ocean, but the coast is a different story. Getting data in this surf zone is tough. Researchers call it a hostile environment, where sensors get tossed by crashing waves and buried in ever shifting sands.” (Today, 2016) Fast forward to today – three years and 30 scientists later … we have the Smartfin.
If you’re using social media, chances are you’ve heard of Hootsuite. Founded in 2008, they have quickly grown to become the worlds most widely used Social relationship platform with over 15 million users. The dashboard interface makes easy work of social media integration. Plus, Hootsuite has a ton of blog posts with helpful tips and advice on how to make social media work for you and your company’s product development. How do they know it works? They use it themselves, and are extremely successful at it.
Companies are like sharks – they have to keep moving or die; develop new products and services or improve existing ones. Without evolving product innovation, companies and products like Blockbuster and USBdrives can just wither away. A paradigm shift has happened In product development and innovation. Where once businesses marketed to their customers via broadcast channels (TV, radio, and print), now businesses broadcast using social media, highly interactive platforms which allow individuals, communities, and business to collectively share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. Social media has become a gigantic global focus group petrie dish, including blogs (Blogger), microblogging (Twitter), collaborative wiki-projects (Wikipedia), forums (Harley Davidson), professional networking sites (LinkedIn), social networks (Facebook, Google+), photographs (Instagram), and videos (YouTube) 1. What is the genesis for new or improved product ideas for business? It’s called “Open Innovation”2, a concept fathered by Henry Chesbrough, and is defined as “The formal discipline and practice of leveraging the discoveries of unobvious others as input for the innovation process through formal and informal relationships (it is the informal relationship that constitutes this innovativeness of open innovation)”. Companies are actively embracing Open Innovation, and they are relying on social media to help them generate, incubate, and give birth to new and refined products through an intricate complementary process of data-gathering, analysis, and customer communication. But what new tasks, disciplines, and organizational restructuring must communication professionals need now to consider turning Open Innovation into measurable and repeatable ROI on product innovation? Today, multi-national firms rarely innovate alone – there is a dynamic interactive process within innovative organizations to establish networks between internal and external entities, particularly in new product development3. More businesses are relying on “co-creation” to develop new or enhance existing products. The term, “co-creation”, signifies an active, creative and social collaboration process, facilitated by the company, between customers and company department producers. Customer co-creation, in short, is open innovation with customers. The idea of co-creation is to actively involve customers in the design or development of future offerings, often with the help of tools that are provided by the firm. Many excellent examples of case studies on social media’s impact on customer co-creation can be found in the University of Waterloo’s Social Media for Business Performance archives: Starbucks Ideas, Dell Computers, Dorrito’s, to name a few. But to create value from social media co-creation, firms have to develop dedicated processes to analyze its benefit… Read more »
Watsi is a non-profit crowdsourcing platform that enables anyone to fund life-changing medical procedures for patients in developing countries who might not otherwise have access to healthcare. At the time this case study was written, 22,102 Watsi donors had funded healthcare for 11,559 patients in 25 countries. Patients waiting to be fully funded included Vehn, a farmer from Cambodia who needs a hip replacement, Olga, a single mother from Guatemala who needs treatment for diabetes, and Dah Htoo, a 2 year old boy from Burma who needs surgery to repair burn damage. When Watsi founder Chase Adam was a Peace Corps volunteer, he was traveling through a small town in Costa Rica when a woman boarded the bus. Her son required medical treatment she could not afford; she showed his medical records and asked passengers for money to help pay for his treatment. The town was called Watsi and the idea of developing a platform to crowdsource funding for vital health care in developing countries was born. Soon after the platform launched, the idea gained traction on Hacker News, and eventually led to Watsi being the first non-profit startup funded and accelerated by Y Combinator.
Social Media’s Impact on the Supply Chain industry is deeper than you might think. Many organizations are using the information gathered from social media to predict trends, ensure timely delivery of goods and source where a product is made.
With roots dating back to 1943, Ikea has a history of creating affordable home furnishings for families in over 50 countries around the world. Ikea has 500 stores worldwide. Ikea’s vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. The Ikea business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at affordable prices. Ikea makes it their mission to understand customer lifestyles. Before creating any product, Ikea works tirelessly to understand its customers so that products can be created with the sole purpose of making life easier and better. Over the last several years, Ikea has incorporated various social media tactics to engage customers and to generate the feedback necessary to continuously improve and evolve existing products and to create new innovative products. Ikea is committed to solving real needs for life at home and customer feedback is absolutely critical to the successful development of its products. Ikea has been welcomed in the homes of countless families around the world in their quest to understand human behaviour patterns.
IBM is an American technology company with its headquarters in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware, middleware and software, and offers hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. IBM is also a major research hub that holds the record for most patents generated by a business enterprise for 24 years in a row. In 2001, IBM introduced the Jam concept in the form of a social computing experiment to engage its workforce. This was completed via a web-based, moderated brainstorming session. Starting in 2007, IBM opened the sessions to external organizations similarly intent on fostering innovation through online cooperation. IBM’s Innovation Jams have been used by governments, academic institutions, businesses and other organizations to address proposals ranging from employee involvement, urban development, to global community engagement through public service. “Jams drive IBM’s research mandate forward. IBM uses the most cutting edge technology to glean information from the data collected. Jams bolster organizational value as specific recommendations are provided to the participants upon completion. Jams are the most effective style of crowdsourcing as they target groups of people with common goals.” Christopher Murray, Technician in Development, IBM
The New York Public Library (NYPL) was founded in 1895 and is the United States’ largest public library system. Today, the NYPL consists of four scholarly research centres and 88 public branches, located between Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx. The NYPL holds more than 51 million items within it’s collection and serves more than 17 million patrons annually; from scholars to public school students, to seniors and toddlers. The NYPL is a centre of educational innovation and a community hub that is vital to New York culture. Statistically, one in three New Yorkers do not have at home internet access and the NYPL works tirelessly to close this digital divide. In the rapidly advancing digital age, the NYPL provides patrons (not only at their physical locations in New York), but also individuals worldwide, with powerful online tools to discover their resources and services. Through their website, visitors can browse the NYPL collections that include 800,000 digitized items. The NYPL also offers online librarian support to answer visitor’s questions online at any time. To further customer engagement, the NYPL offers 67,000 free programs annually. To quote the NYPL President & CEO, Tony Marx: “The New York Public Library has provided essential access to books and information for more than a century. Today, we are building on that legacy by increasing access to our collections physically and online, and by transforming our libraries into proactive centers of education and opportunity for all New Yorkers. ”
In 2013, comedian Bryan Callen, asked UFC heavyweight fighter Brendan Schaub to do a podcast with him in his garage. The two were good friends, and Bryan noticed that Brendan had a natural comedic instinct, that could crack up a whole room. While both were moderately successful in their profession, nothing could prepare them for the heights their new show would soon reach. In three short years, the podcast has grown into one of the top 10 sports podcasts on Itunes. Podcasting has allowed the pair to have a stable income, while they pursue other interests. Acting and fighting are no longer their main source of income, and they can rely on income generated from their podcast. The podcast generates revenue from ad reads on the show, with many companies relying on podcasts to generate new customers. Bryan Callen had this to say about the future of social media. What’s really cool about the whole business of internet is it makes it easier and easier to have your own autonomy. The show has produced over 200 episodes, and spun off into various other side projects. Other businesses can look at The Fighter and The Kid, as inspiration to step into the future of social media.
What binds together four University of Waterloo Alumni, millennia moms, and celebrity moms like Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz, Heidi Klum, and Reese Witherspoon? Mabel’s Labels. They have developed a brand and social media marketing platform that responds to the needs of moms worldwide. What is unique about this story? The founders of Mabel’s Labels are pioneers. They started their company before the words “social” and “media” were put together in sequence (note that Facebook was founded in 2004). When founders Julie Cole, Julie Ellis, Cynthia Esp and Tricia Mumby created Mabel’s Labels through their social networks with other moms, they knew they were on to something… 2003, four busy moms noticed a huge gap in the market for durable kids’ labels. Frustrated by their children’s things getting lost, mixed up and leaving home never to return, knew they could do better than the scribbles on masking tape that were being passed off as labels. Presently, Mabels Labels has 163,600 devoted Facebook followers with a conversion rate of 5.1%. In January 2016 they were acquired for $12 million by Canadian-based CCL Industries for its Avery North America division.
Alibaba, the largest online business company, does not manufacture or stock products on its own; Uber, the largest transportation network company globally, actually owns no vehicles; Airbnb, leading hotel and travel company, does not own any real estate. One thing they have in common is that they all create evolutionary ideas to disrupt and reform competitive landscape. Owning no inventory nor product doesn’t stop Alibaba being the supply chain management guru. In fact, in April 2016 Alibaba Group has officially surpassed Walmart and become the world’s largest retailer. This set the milestone when the world’s largest retail market shifted from offline to online. “We used 13 years to demonstrate the power of a different business model compared with brick-and-mortar retailers,” the Alibaba Group said. A key success factor for Alibaba is to delivery comprehensive while tailored digital supply chain process to customers.
Eight years ago, Brian’s Custom Sports occupied a vastly different space than the one they currently hold. A hockey goalie equipment manufacturer, Brian’s was known as a custom graphic company. They made high end equipment, but customers were drawn to the custom designs they could put on the pads, rather than the specifications of the gear itself. Brian’s changed the game in 2008 when they did something no other company was doing at the time, they created a Facebook page. The introduction of this page not only gave the company a massive new following, but also started them down the path of becoming the leader in technological innovation. Brian’s used there social media reach to innovate products for the high and low end markets.
Social media and connectivity has gone through a long way in changing human lives. As to business organizations, utilizing social media becomes an emerging trend during production developments process. Especially for consumer facing product development, leveraging social media truly helps to break the geographic and segment barriers in order to be more innovative.
DeWALT Inc. is a leading worldwide consumer power tool company, founded in 1924 and acquired by Stanley Black & Decker in 1960. Currently, DeWALT manufactures and sells more than 200 different power hand-tools and 800 accessories. (Wikipedia, 2016). When DeWALT became a customer of Canadian company Vision Critical Communications Inc., an online Insight Community was launched and it would forever change how they develop and design their products.
Organizations are always looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to consumers and drive loyalty. Social media is used for a lot of different things when it comes to business, from receiving customer feedback to advertising new products. Recently, companies have started to involve their customers in a very crucial part of their business, the product development and design of their products. Some companies are using social media platforms for the company’s advantage in order to enhance the development of the next great product, while making customers feel valued by listening to their opinions and ideas. In 2013, Tesco, a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer decided to do something different. This organization had an amazing initiative to get their whole social media following involved in the process of creating a new wine, mainly through Facebook.
Social front end product development is a concept that is gaining traction in the business world. Why? Because it yields off the charts results! Front-end product development involves using social media to gain valuable insights on what customers want. But, it’s not just about social listening, it’s about engaging clients directly in the creation and development of a product or service.
In Spring of 1998 after recently being fired from a brewery, three friends set out on a canoe trip. That canoe trip would lead to a campfire conversation that would change all of their lives. Greg Taylor, Cam Heaps and Greg Cromwell “The Three Fired Guys” wanted to make a Pilsner that would compete with the best in the world. They did just that! Their brewery is named Steam Whistle, drawing from the inspirational sounds of steam rushing from factory whistles, signalling the end of a fulfilling workday and a time for personal reward.1 The Three Fired Guys built their company with a retro feel, when marketing of goods relied on the trust between manufacturer and consumers. Steam Whistle understands the importance of listening to their consumers and makes ever effort to do so by utilizing social media.
The Waze Craze Commuters usually know a few different ways to get to their desired destinations. There’s the everyday route, the scenic route and the back route but they are always faced with the question of which way is the best at this exact moment. That’s where the mobile app Waze comes in to play – the world’s largest crowdsourced GPS based traffic and navigation app. With over a million users in some countries, Waze connects users to create a real time traffic navigation community. It can be used for avoiding traffic jams, accidents, police speed traps, road blockages, even the cheapest nearby fuel! They call their community of users “Wazers” and add some fun to their daily commutes with status rankings within the community that are dependent on how much you use the app. Waze also offers limited time celebrity navigation voices to guide you from point A to B – imagine hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice saying “Hasta La Vista, Baby” at the end of your journey. They have even added a social side to the app with the ability to see nearby friends on the map as well as sharing your drive to see when everyone else is arriving to your destination.
In the 1950’s and 60’s Evelyn Ryan, a mother of 10 kept her children fed by entering and winning contests for jingles and advertising slogans of 25 words or less. She submitted multiple entries, under various names, for contests by Dial, Lipton, Paper Mate and Kleenex. Evelyn’s story, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio has been told in both print, with a biography written by her daughter and on the silver screen, where she was portrayed by Julianne Moore. What Evelyn and these other companies didn’t realize is they were one of the first to introduce what we now call Crowdsourcing.
Lego has come a long way since 1932, when it was originally founded by a small-time carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen from Denmark. The company was passed down within the family, and today the Kristiansen family remains the sole “shareholders” of the once-small toy business. Currently, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp is the CEO of the well-known global enterprise. Lego has continued to remain a household name because they continue to reinvent themselves to be even better than before. They consistently keep up with trends whether it be their latest Lego sets, Lego movies, or their marketing strategies. These popular building blocks have remain in demand over the last 80 years for their product quality and for it’s influence in fostering imagination from people both young and old.
Through its innovative My Starbucks Idea, the company known for fresh roasted beverages, wholesome food on the go, and the decadent Iced Caramel Macchiato, is looking your way for their next great product idea.
In the Healthcare industry the gap between the providers and receivers is narrowing. Technological advancements in particular Social Media is the catalyst of this. Crowdsourcing in health care has become a popular trend these days despite the meticulous requirements for specialization, limitations surrounding privacy and strict governance. It is an instrumental tool in finding patient care solutions and cost reductions that previously would not have been possible. Barbara Prainsack (Professor in Sociology and Politics of Bioscience Brunel University London / GB), delivers an excellent presentation at at TEDxSalzburg about how Crowdsourcing is becoming more prevalent in the Medical field. She stresses the divide between the two sides: the medical experts and those receiving the care is no longer tenable. Dr. Prainsack explains, this is as a result of the way in which we as society use technology to communicate, and the need for us to be advocates in our own health care. The age old adage “Two brains are better than one,” is literally meaningful in this context. The more brains, equals more ideas, equals greater chance to solve a problem or find a solution. Jeff Howe, author of “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, pointed out that: “Crowds are more than wise – they are talented, creative, and stunningly productive.” The application of Crowdsourcing is extremely applicable within the healthcare industry. Whether it be doctors around the world collaborating on a patience diagnoses, or patients helping companies design prosthetics, so that they are able to lead better lives. I believe that crowdsourcing is intrinsic to our very nature. Although, we may or may not be professionals in the field it is the idea of making a difference, that is the real motivation for most people. One ingenious crowdsourcing initiative was the Columbia Design Challenge. Realizing the urgency to control the outbreak, the deans at Columbia Engineering and the Mailman School of Public Health sponsored a rapid-fire design challenge to confront the Ebola crisis. The idea behind the challenge was to not only come up with rapid low-cost, real-time solutions, from concept to deployment, but also engage the Columbia community—from all disciplines—to take action, collaborate, and have an impact on this critical global issue. For more on this extraordinary contest please listen to Anna Maria Tremonti’s Interview called “Competition for Solutions finds new ideas to contain Ebola through crowdsourcing truly ground-breaking.” – The Current : Feature series By Design (3rd November 2014) Listen 27:30 Dwayne Spradlin CEO of Health Data Consortium… Read more »