Crowdsourcing with IBM’s InnovationJam

sadamcik    February 27, 2017

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

Technological Innovations

IBM was the first to create, test and bundle the technological tools needed for governments, businesses and non-profit organizations to participate in their own Jams. Jams rely on a suite of analytics, data visualization and hosting technologies.

  1. Visualized dialogues: Jams use text and data analysis and tools to gather, filter and decipher the vast quantities of online content generated during each session.
  2. Real time analytics: IBM uses a text-mining tool to scan real-time conversations to isolate emerging themes and where the discussions are going.
  3. Detailed participation data: Jam participants can view real-time visualizations of user participation.
  4. A world-class hosting environment: The hosting system can handle massive surges and drop offs in participation.


Security Jam 2016: Jamming to a safer world

An example of a recent Jam was organized by Friends of Europe to discuss issues pertaining to global security. A coalition of 2,500 participants from countries all over the world participated in a Jam session to address key international security issues. The Jam culminated in a comprehensive set of issues threatening global security.

Lessons for Others

  • Innovation Jams are best suited for organizations looking to enact change using a transparent and collaborative process.
  • Using the data derived from visualized dialogues and analytics, firms can amend their values, processes and policies.
  • Organizational value is bolstered with the assemblage of specific recommendations.

Organization: IBM
Industry: Technology
Name of Organization Contact: Christopher Murray, Technician in Development

Authored by: Sylvia A

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Friends of Europe (2016). Retrieved on February 27, 2017 from

IBM (2017). Retrieved on February 27, 2017 from

IBM (2017). Retrieved on February 27, 2017 from