Innovation Web Portals Could Benefit From Human Touch In principle, the promise of networked innovation web portals is brilliant. External parties can submit innovation candidates to corporations, who can review and evaluate them. Parties from all over the organization can also examine and provide inputs to broaden submission exposure and potential utility. This sounds great, especially for large companies that annually may receive thousands of inbound submissions. Unfortunately, these systems have a fundamental limitation which severely constrain their potential value. They limit the human interactions that can provide much richness. Here are some of the drawbacks:
Technologists screen them before business persons do. As a practical matter, this makes sense. After all, why get excited about an opportunity until you know if it's feasible and viable? However, many companies in rejecting a submission for technical reasons "throw out the baby with the bath water." There may be reasons to keep and nurture the idea underlying the submission even if the technology itself may lack certain qualities to sustain its specific candidacy.
Portals are structured to facilitate convergence versus divergence and incubation. Portals facilitate input screening, i.e. filtering, i.e. convergence. Similar to the point above, as submitters often lack insight into the business' key current needs, if the submitter guesses incorrectly at these (which they likely will), screeners won't likely consider new and potentially attractive opportunities when they see them.
Portals don't enable persuasion. In any interpersonal selling dynamic, the seller interacts with the customer to discern needs and interests in seeking to persuade the customer. This dynamic is absent in the portal environment. Submissions live or die on the basis of a static form (As Jack Webb of Dragnet fame might have said, "Just the facts"). I feel this helps contribute to virtually all of them dying.
In my humble opinion, companies would derive significantly greater value from networked web portals if they were to treat the inputs they receive as imperfect inspirations, worthy of incubation and interactions with real humans, rather than persistently insisting on keeping the submitters at arm's length.
After all, aren't these interactions the very elements that are most valued by corporate clients in crowdsourcing initiatives?
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.