Company name: Skype
Description Skype is an application that allows people to communicate through video or audio from computers, tablets and mobile devices. It can be used to message, send and receive files, photos and videos, as well as hold conferences online. It was made available for use in 2003 and currently belongs to Microsoft, who acquired it in 2011.
As the use of social media for business purposes becomes increasingly commonplace, some companies are expanding their traditional product development processes to include social computing technologies. Also known as open innovation, the process can take many forms, including sharing ideas and information within an organization, collaborating with supply chain partners, or going directly to the customer base to gain insight.
According to a 2011 study by Kalypso, early adopters are achieving faster product adoption (20%), reducing the time required to get the product to market (16%) and lowering product development costs (15%). The cost of the product itself was reduced in 12% of the cases studied, while higher market share and improved product revenue were reported by 6% and 5% of respondents, respectively.
Best practices are not yet widely available, but Forrester Research suggests companies not engage until ready to make information public and be prepared to be transparent. Predefined timelines should be established and discussions should be bidirectional and kept focused. Communications, legal and marketing departments should be consulted and included in the project. Skype’s Client Idea Board is a good example of the application of those principles.
What is Open Innovation?
The video above was produced by HYVE, one of many services now available that specialize in supporting open innovation initiatives. (Planning and realization of web applications, community management, result analysis, etc.)
Skype’s Client Idea Board
Skype is present on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Its main site also has a blog section. In January 2014, it launched a Windows Desktop Client idea board, a space that allows people to submit improvement ideas for that specific application only.
Claudius, Board moderator at Skype
Fostering positive interactions
The Board is moderated by Claudius, whose picture appears on the space’s pages, a nice touch that humanizes the process.
Information on contributions is readily available, under three idea ‘levels’: New Ideas (most recent), Hot Ideas (currently the most popular), and Top Ideas (having received the most kudos). This indicates the Board is current and actively monitored, reassuring potential contributors that their ideas will be acknowledged and considered. Explanations are given as to why some ideas may not be accepted or may take longer to implement.
Finally, expected behaviour is indicated through Community Guidelines and Skype etiquette, rights and obligations are addressed and a FAQ section is included that explains, among other things, what occurs if an idea is accepted for implementation.
Focusing the conversation
Detailed guidelines are provided concerning how to proceed. To avoid the same suggestion being repeated, Skype suggests people begin with a quick search. Should they find someone else has already posted their idea, they are encouraged to give kudos to the post. They are also encouraged to comment on other ideas posted. How the information is processed is clearly indicated on the page:
Open innovation and the use of social media to drive product innovation are on the rise because they are good for business.
There are now online services that can help at every stage of preparation, implementation and assessment of collaborative product development.
Although best practices are not widely available, basic rules can be applied to increase the chances of success.
Submitted by: Hélène Montpetit, University of Waterloo Student.
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Mladenow, Andreas; Bauer, Christine; Strauss, Christine, Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management; Mar2014, Vol. 15 Issue 1 Social Crowd Integration in New Product Development: Crowdsourcing Communities Nourish the Open Innovation Paradigm