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Social Technologies to Promote Collaborative Innovation


When it comes to innovation, most companies rely on a blend of internal and external resources and inputs, with forward-looking organizations leveraging customers, partners and experts outside the company’s four walls. 

So, what tools and resources do engineers and other innovation workers use to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing and accelerate product development? 

Social Technologies Power innoation and collaborationThe tools vary by industry and by task and include an array of traditional internal repositories and systems, external content sources, and a number of new social technologies that enable greater collaboration and new forms of content creation, sharing and consumption.

Some studies, such as a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute, suggest knowledge workers spend 28 hours each week writing emails, searching for information, and collaborating internally.  Per MGI, Web 2.0 technologies – such as social networks, ratings and reviews, wikis, discussion forums and crowd-sourcing, among others - could represent a 20-25 percent improvement in knowledge worker productivity.   With internal knowledge and external information more readily available via social media -  a typical information worker could reduce information searching time by as much as 35 percent -returning over 6 percent of an innovation or knowledge worker’s workweek to other tasks.

MGI estimates that two-thirds of the value creation opportunity afforded by social media technologies comes from an organization’s ability to better communicate within and across the enterprise.

MGI also estimates that in using social technologies to gather customer feedback and derive customer insights, improve internal and external collaboration, and enable the co-creation of products, advanced manufacturing companies can capture value equal to 12-15 percent of the costs.

Other findings of the study include:

  • Just 3 percent of companies are “fully networked” and using social media to interact with customers, partners and employees.
  • In the US, only 5 percent of all communications and content takes place on social networks
  • Companies that seek consumer input to drive product development have an opportunity to generate consumer insights and market intelligence via social media
  • Social technologies could add an estimated $170-200 billion in value annually for advanced manufacturing industries

What social media tools and technologies does your team use to collaboratively solve problems, disperse internal knowledge, pinpoint external knowledge and connect to experts inside and outside the organization?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Click here to access the MGI study: The Social Economy