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Social innovation, crowdsourcing, idea management, game mechanics, and collaboration

For over 18 years, Paul has founded and led successful and profitable high-tech strategic organizations for both private and public companies. His talent as an entrepreneur was solidified when in 1999 he merged his company MXNet with another and took it public. Paul then went on to serve as a Senior Executive at global media and telecommunication firms as well as CEO of high-tech financial markets. Currently, Paul is CEO and Co-Founder of Spigit, an enterprise social software provider, the genesis of which stemmed from Paul’s background with content, networks and algorithmic trading.

In the following interview, Paul Pluschkell, CEO and Founder of Spigit discusses with Rake Narang, editor-in-chief of Network Products Guide, social innovation, crowdsourcing, idea management, game mechanics, and collaboration.

Rake Narang: What is social innovation? How are companies changing their overall strategy to include social innovation?

Paul Pluschkell: Social innovation is a new paradigm for finding unexpected business value. Instead of building out centralized R&D or innovation teams, you make use of the edge: your employees and customers. When you provide them with tools that let them interact with each other, social forces take over and the crowd begins to create unexpected things. Social innovation is really the process of directing this crowd to solve your strategic objectives.

Companies have begun to recognize the power of having thousands or hundreds of thousands of pairs of eyes scanning for opportunities, and hands to help them implement them. That’s what you get when you push innovation out to the edge in this social way. The biggest change they have to make is accepting that command and control is less effective than trusting that properly directed crowds of employees and customers will do useful work. That’s a cultural and strategic change, but it is a leap many are taking successfully. It is no longer senior management responsibilities to make all decisions but rather to provide the tools to leverage their entire scale. We’re thrilled that Spigit is one of the companies that are helping them do it.

Rake Narang: Are certain industries placing larger focus on innovation than others? What are the most important aspects to ensuring social innovation will resonate within an organization?

Paul Pluschkell: Everyone says that innovation is core to their future success. The reality is not every company is ready or willing to make the changes they need to put innovation at front and center of how they’re going to create strategic competitive advantage. That seems to be true for most industries: there are some companies that just seem better than others at making innovation work.

Having said that, I think you can say that companies which operate in highly commoditized markets, consumer packaged goods, pharma, and banking, for example, have begun to demonstrate they can really pull away from their competitors using social innovation tools. They’re the ones who understood first that crowds can help them in a way that their old-paradigm research and development functions couldn’t. Our observation is that most other industries have begun to follow their lead now that results are coming in. Not only does social innovation encourage engagement at scale it also gives the employees a sense of purpose which increases productivity.

Making social innovation resonate in an organization is a cultural and strategic matter more than anything else. Firstly, management has to be willing to trust their employees and customers. Then, they have to give them permission to innovate. Finally, they have to want to use the results that come back, even if they’re a little bit different from what they expected. The greatest innovation driven companies in the world have already worked this out and they’re the ones winning in the market.

Rake Narang: Describe the value proposition of Spigit? How do you differentiate yourselves from the rest of the market?

Paul Pluschkell: Spigit was the first company to recognize that crowds of employees and customers have a value beyond an open suggestion box. We were the ones that pioneered game mechanics to motivate crowds to create useful business outcomes. We were also the first to explore how you use reputation management and other psychological mechanisms to ensure crowds are directed appropriately and don’t turn into mobs. We’ve continued to pioneer these methods of making social innovation something that works.

But what makes Spigit really unique is we’re helping companies break out of old-paradigm thinking about innovation. We’re taking all those old stage gate processes and helping them scale out by adding all those available eyes and hands at the edge. We’re letting companies go from innovation pipelines of tens of ideas to thousands. In the end, we’re about making innovation distributed and social and scalable; and dare I say fun. Most other vendors are concentrating on pulling innovation back into the core and reestablishing traditional command and control.

In short Spigit is the company that activates your crowd.

Company: Spigit, 311 Ray St., Pleasanton, CA 94566 U.S.A.

Founded in: 2007
CEO: Paul Pluschkell
Products and Services: Purpose-built social innovation software. Products include EnterpriseSpigit, SpigitEngage for Facebook®, SpigitEngage for SharePoint®, SpigitFusion, GovSpigit, ContestSpigit, MobileSpigit, PredictionSpigit, Spigit SDK. Additional services incorporate world-class innovation and collaboration strategy and process expertise, support, and design and development professional services.
Company’s Goals: To help our customers achieve innovative success by giving them access to leading edge technology along with best practices and thought leadership that complements and enhances their investment in Spigit’s software.

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