Open Innovation and Collaboration

When it comes to building a successful business and keep it growing, marketing & sales are two of the most important ingredients to focus on.

When it comes to marketing, building partnership and customer relationships social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin, etc are great tools.

There are many of these systems and I hope that this Ning will help us better understand how to use them for business. The best part is that connecting people that used to cost a huge amount of money in the past is now available for free or to a small cost.

But in addition to "connecting people" are we ready to use these new and powerful tools for project management and open innovation?

I know that traditional enterprises and business are still not very fluent with social media. Many are scared about taking their innovation processes into open platforms.

Is social media a threat to intellectual property? Are CEOs and managers reluctant to move to Web 2.0 and SM applications while they feel loosing control?

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Referring my experiences from paper industry companies, people who are working for them today are usually too busy to be interested in novel ideas (at least in Finland). Only those new issues which are presented by institutes like KCL and VTT - and by main paper industry magazines, of course - can wake them thinking of new prospects. Net information should be as important as other channels for them, but I guess that it really is a question of time. Messages of new ideas should be easy-to-receive and easy-to-digest; how to make our channel a routine source of information like "Helsingin Sanomat"?
Pulp, paper, board, and sawmilling are very traditional industries. I also feel that they will come when there is some content. Readers, commentators, and the audience comes when we have something to offer. The advantage with this is that we can attract a global audience. The technical aspect is solved and social media and search engine optimization match well.
I took a fast look on the counter and visitor's map of my blog (industrymicrobiologist.blogspot.com). Counter showed a relatively promising number, over 700 visitors (I had an idea in the beginning that only friends and relatives will read this blog). Next question: from where they have arrived? Three countries were on the top (in this order): U.S.A., Finland and india! Which has been their focus of interest? Many have arrived to my blog without any specified interest, some have already found distinct posts which have waken their interest. Interesting fact is, that those persons included in this latter group seem to have visited my blog several times!

One key question still remains unsolved: what kind of people all the visitors are? Are they scientists, people with industrial background, common laymen (or relatives of mine..)?

I still feel sad for the low number of comments. It seems that customers read my stories but do not response (at least in my blog).

I try to find some time to do more detailled statistics: where are the most interested visitors (several visits) from, have they found some interesting topic directly (via Google) etc...This is very important because they are potential customers of my services and/or ideas as well as potential partners in research projects.
Juha, seven hundred readers is good start. I know that your blog also needs promotion. This network is one of the channels where we can reach out to a bigger crowd.

There are tons of promotional techniques that we can use. One day you decide to start adding friends at Facebook. I know that you already started a Twitter account. Macarena generated visitors with the Yahoo Answers strategy.

The power of the crowd will add more readers when we get the group to talk more.

Industrial Microbiologist discusses very complex issues and I think this Ning helps you to approach your audience on a social level.

I've invited new people. The groups are growing with time. Invite your own friends as well.
Thank you, Helge, for your support! I agree, we need several channels to present our ideas. - Elias and me are preparing a traditional article to be published in some popular paper industry magazine. It can help to "weak up" people working for that area.
I just found this internet site, which demonstrates pulp&paper manufacturing processes:


This multimedia presentation by METSO helps to understand relatively complicated paper industry processes.

This kind of public presentation of BIOTOUC and PMEU would help potential customers to understand the basic facts of PMEU incubations. I do not know, how much time and money were needed to produce this kind of presentation?
Here Liz Strauss comments about Social Networking.

I quote Liz: "Social Networkers understand the value of being tapped into a network of connections. Social Networks connect openly and with enthusiasm, thinking that, if we cannot directly help each other, our connections probably can. As part of their open networking, Social Networkers are generous with help and share what they know as often as they can. Social Networkers want to be where the people are and the action is happening. They understand what makes a party fun and how to engage and inform hundreds of connections.

On Twitter, you’ll know Social Networkers by the thousands of friends they have and by the fact that they usually friend back everyone who friends them. You’ll find them at most important conferences and on most social sites. They’ll be the ones with the crowds of friends. On Twitter, it might seem that everyone is talking to them. On SU and Digg, you might find them in huge networks that share content regularly."
I read some chapters of the book by William H. Davidov, published in Finnish in 1986 with the title "Teknologian markkinointi", which describes the issues and problems of technology marketing. There are many interesting ideas like "Do designing products, not equipment" and "Be global or die". This book bases on the experiences of the author in the famous company Intel on 80's and as a business consult.

What especially wake up my interest are some thesis about the strategy of marketing like "Do the marketing section of the company know why the customer buy the products of the company?" and "Has the marketing section a connection to the customers?".

I think that the these questions can be solved with the tools of social media if only both sides are ready to meet there. Companies shall have such easy-to-reach ways of net conversations that the interest of the potential customers will wake up - and there are already such tools available. The only question is: how the customers will find social media highways to express their needs?
It requires a lot of work to use social media for open innovation. There needs to be somebody managing the process, providing questions and maybe even scoping the discussion. Sometimes those persons in charge of a company, program or other topic are too busy with other tasks and the social media's potential is left unused.

I think marketing could have the most to win when taking social media into full explotation.
Kai, thanks for the comment and I got an email about the social media thing. Hope to get time to respond tomorrow or later this week. Social Media has a great potential in the field of open innovation but big corporations and many smaller ones regard "open" as a synonym for "poison". Corporate executives are afraid to "share" and to "collaborate" in open spaces. I work on a daily basis to solve this problem. I've to admit: it isn't easy.
I started a discussion in Qaiku about "How to export services, innovations, experiences, and knowledge?"

We've been talking about the need to expand our export portfolio. Finland has been good on investment goods, paper machines, energy systems, power plants, components for infrastructure. Nokia, Kone, pulp, paper, board, and sawn goods should be mentioned as excellent exporters. All these industries are in trouble now. Nokia is still powerful, but a big part of its gadgets will be delivered from other parts of the world. Only a part of the "paper work" will be managed from Finland.

Our Green Gold doesn't have the same value as before. Innovation is needed, but the industry is confused, where to start?

But how about the service industry? What could we do to improve export of services, social innovations, experience economy products, and knowledge? The deeper I look into these non-material areas, I run into depressive thoughts. Are we still too concentrated on how to solve the problems within the borders of the national state and can't see or imagine that Finnish Tacit Knowledge could have a market.

What about becoming a solutions supplier combining soft and hard into more attractive bundles? Where could we start? Any good examples? Do we've a strategy for improvements in these fields?

The Kouvola process

I remember feeling excitement and pride at the same time. I wanted to go on. We were talking about big infrastructure projects and the export of Finnish community planning services. We'd a very inspiring meeting in Kouvola last week. There was a feeling about getting in touch with something that is "real" and "important".

Nevertheless, we've a long way to go.

Innovation isn't easy. Big and radical innovations do not happen over night. We're not talking about a garage sales of old stuff, there is a much bigger trend going on. Building technology and automation combined could lead to new export products.

I'll write more, this is the beginning of a much longer story. The opening lines are cryptic, the I'll disclose more. The innovation train could be a forum for broader publicity. Let's see if we succeed to get then damned thing moving.

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