”INNOVATION FACTORS IMPROVED BY ONLINE COLLABORATION”

Håkan Ozan, CSC June 2009

”INNOVATION FACTORS IMPROVED BY ONLINE COLLABORATION”
Håkan Ozan, CSC June 2009

Having ubiquitous access to peers changes the way innovation can be utilized. But which factors change and in what way are they improved?
The Internet changes the ways we collaborate.
Introduction innovative and hence successful Internet and web-based systems have output increases. Sometimes these started providing traditional methods regard tools to improve innovation methods with new means. individual creativity, but most often In our view, the strongest contributor they aim at enhancing group to this phenomenon is the improved creativity. The general shortcoming of connectivity between people, what we individual creativity is that it lacks the choose to call “online collaboration”. multifaceted perspectives of others, In two articles we will first look at the something that commonly factors that improve strengthens the quality “The paramount innovation activities, of ideas. An intricacy of strength of online group creativity has been and in a second article services is their we will analyze the difficulty of conventional coordinating the agendas ubiquitous innovation methods of innovative people. If accessibility.” and look at how they you want good people at are improved with new technology. a creative session, you have to get all of them to the same place and at the Electronic collaboration supports same time. With collective creativity it collective creativity has also been difficult to ensure the Regardless of method used to spread and width of relevant improve an organization’s innovation competence at the moment of the capability and outcomes, most activity. You want as much methods focus on improving aggregated competence at the creativity. Most innovations happen at session as possible, but there is the boundaries and specializations of limited space in a room, and the more people, so by stimulating creative people you summon the more difficult thinking among diverse competences the session will be to coordinate. the likeliness of generating more

”INNOVATION FACTORS IMPROVED BY ONLINE COLLABORATION”
Håkan Ozan, CSC June 2009

The major evolution in innovation is the accessibility to collaborative activities regarding innovation. Even though conventional real-time activities such as brainstorms and focus group workshops are difficult to surpass in the sense of qualitative outcome, there are other factors regarding electronic collaboration that has the potential of improving innovation altogether. Improvement factors due to online collaboration In summary, there are four, closely intertwined, primary factors that are improved by online collaboration, where the second two are derived from the first two. 1. Time The paramount strength of online services is their ubiquitous accessibility. Hence, electronic collaboration becomes less constrained to the specific moment where all invited participants have simultaneous spare time in their agendas. Instead, with online collaboration, activities can be more flexible, or even asynchronous, so that participants can collaborate when THEY (individually) have the time to

do so. As a consequence, innovation becomes on-demand, user-driven, and as ubiquitous as the Internet itself. 2. Place It is both time consuming and problematic to bring many people to the same location, especially if they are geographically dispersed. There are two major drawbacks of involving long-distance collaborators that negatively influence the costefficiency of group creativity sessions; 1) time-loss due to travel times, 2) increased costs due to disproportionate travel expenses. On the other hand, if we choose to reduce travel time-loss and costs by only inviting nearby innovators, we take a substantial risk of losing momentous competence in the creativity loop and thereby miss out on potent and creative feedback and ideas. Reversely, with online collaboration people can communicate using the same medium, regardless of their physical location. Hence, accessibility will be location neutral and participants can be given the opportunity to collaborate at the place of their own choice.

”INNOVATION FACTORS IMPROVED BY ONLINE COLLABORATION”
Håkan Ozan, CSC June 2009

3. Availability With the diminishment of the time and place barriers, there are two important gains; one being time spent on creative innovation instead of travel, the second being the total amount of people [competence] being able to participate in the innovation dialog. As in the case of TRIZ methodology, it is said that “somebody, someplace, has already solved this problem (or one very similar to it), creativity is now finding that solution and adapting it to this particular problem”. The increase in connectivity brings more people to the problem, and with varied backgrounds and more accumulated experiences, the likeliness of finding that solution rise immensely. 4. Continuity Another disadvantage of participants having to be at the same spot simultaneously is that it restricts the amount of occasions when creativity can take place. If participants are required to attend physically at every session, only so many sessions will be able to take place per year. With the right mix of tools for online collaboration creativity can be both

synchronous and asynchronous. If they want to collaborate in real-time they can simply log on to an instant communications service. If they do not, they can chose to participate solely at times when they are inspired to do so and when they have constructive ideas to propose. Regardless of synchronicity innovation becomes an ongoing process that is continuous instead of event based.

The improvement factors of online collaboration.

A friend once described his home cleaning philosophy to me. He said; “I clean my home continuously. I mean, at least once a year..”.

”INNOVATION FACTORS IMPROVED BY ONLINE COLLABORATION”
Håkan Ozan, CSC June 2009

If innovation is to be handled in the same way, you can be certain that the innovation floors of your organization will also be continuously dirty. On the other hand, at this point in time there are early mover opportunities of open innovation pioneers, especially since most companies have not even established a strategy for how to integrate online collaboration as part of their innovation process. Summary Even though non-continuous, the pace and quality of communication is superior in physical sessions since complementary communication channels such as body language and tone of voice tend to vanish in electronic environments. Furthermore, even though keyboard communication gives the author more time for reflection than does live communication, a lot of spontaneous communication that occurs in live environments may be lost. And many times the least expected events give birth to the greatest ideas. Altogether, the conclusion is that online collaboration is an extraordinary complement to qualitative group sessions. Online collaboration activities may, if

managed correctly, increase companies’ innovation outcomes considerably, even though they can not yet be considered a full substitute for interpersonal creative activities. ¶

“INNOVATION FACTORS IMPROVED BY ONLINE COLLABORATION”
Håkan Ozan, CSC
Håkan Ozan is a strategic management consultant at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) who is specialized in IT strategy and innovation management. He is the Innovation Manager of CSC Sweden and has an M.Sc in Computer Science and a B.Sc. in Economics. He has been working with, and researching, practical open innovation for several years and is currently the project manager of the Airport Living Lab at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport and the project manager of the Open Innovation Frameworks research project.

Further reading Altschuller, G., Shulyak, L. (1998). 40 principles: Triz Keys to Technical Innovation. Tecnical Innovation Center INC. De Bono, E. (1973). Lateral thinking: creativity step by step. Harper Colophon. Wainfan, L., Davis, P. (2004). Challenges in Virtual Collaboration. RAND Corporation.

Open Innovation From the Open Innovation Forum’s perspective open innovation involves all aspects of creating new business opportunities by engaging end-users in co-creative activities. Web 2.0 technologies has caused electronic collaboration to evolve, hence paving the way for companies to invite customers and employees to be involved in the refinement of their offerings. Ideally open innovation will create win-win situations where users get services that are more oriented to their needs and organizations will offer services that are more desired by the market. The Open Innovation Forum The Open Innovation Forum aims at being a knowledge hub and rallying point for useroriented open innovation, where innovation experts and researchers can collaborate on improving theories and practices, while open innovation novices are invited to follow, or take active part, in the development of the area.

www.openinnovationforum.com
1 The content in this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribute 3.0 License, which allows the material to freely be copied, distributed, transmitted and remixed as long as the work is attributed to the original authors.

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