A community peer of mine, Kevin Grimes, recently posted a tweet or snippet on Starbucks and how they were leveraging social media and idea management. Many organizations today are looking into systems or software to help them capture and leverage both employee and customer ideas with the goal of saving costs, increasing revenue, or simply to build loyalty and relationships. The goal with ideas is to engage your customer base and potentially build on their suggested products, services, process improvements, and overall recommendations. With an idea management system you can track the wants, needs, thoughts, and even complaints of your employees and/or customers and utilize trending in order to understanding potential commonalities. The sharing of ideas can be done internally or externally and each organization should have a strategy for utilizing ideas and what they’re looking to measure or build upon. A voice is a wonderful thing, respond to your customers, and employ community managers to herd the sheep, maintain balance, and channel communications properly. Ideas in general appear, at first glance, as a fun way to introduce social media and open collaboration to the enterprise. I’m willing to bet there are many organizations out there who have collaborative-like intranets or applications such as SharePoint, but are not leveraging their own community as they could and perhaps should. I’m also willing to bet that some organizations have idea-like systems but aren’t taking advantage of the social media aspect to it and may even be limiting ideas to specific divisions or even business groups.

Starbucks, Teradata, Qualcomm, WordPress, and Dell get it and are all leveraging ideas in one way or another. Salesforce.com’s Service Cloud plays a big role in that for many organizations as it appears to be a stellar solution for online community service, sharing, and collaboration. CA Technologies is leveraging the Salesforce.com PaaS to build their own idea, product, and agile vision products. I’ve been fortunate enough to see CA’s Idea Vision sampled for my current employer and for the first go-round, it looks as though it does exactly what it’s meant to do. You can’t deny the quality of the platform and Salesforce technology. Not only does it allow for complex application development and integration, but it looks damn good as well. Did I mention CA’s Idea Vision integrates with its Clarity PPM brother as well? Resources can surprise you with both ‘off the cuff’ suggestions as well as well thought out or planned solutions. If you’re not doing it, introduce ideas to your organization, reward those who come up with small and even stellar suggestions. Build the relationships that ultimately impact your brand and give you repeat customer satisfaction. Many of your customers and employees are loyal or dedicated and they want to help you flourish because it all trickles down. Whether they’re internal or external, grade or rate the ideas, comment on them, contribute to other member’s ideas, and have fun with it! The end result is a win-win as the consumer gets to express their needs or wants and the organization has an excellent channel in learning from their customer that’s qualitative and quantitative.

Want to view some additional products built to manage ideas? Qmarkets Innovation ; Spigit for SharePoint;  Idea Glow

Want to see a cool Dell IdeaStorm video from Idea to Reality?

How did Dell start and then show progress in online collboration, social media, and eventually ideas? This slideshow has some great takeaways.