Social media is driving dating in the 21st century. It can also help businesses connect with potential industry “soul mates”.
According to Professor Anne-Laure Mention, Director of the Global Business and Innovation Enabling Capability Platform at RMIT University, matchmaking businesses via social media can lead to innovation and competitive advantage.
She says that innovation intermediaries like InnoCentive and NineSigma enable today’s businesses to better connect their products across a range of industries.
“These platforms are like dating systems,” Mention says.
“You could be developing a material or a component for a specific industry, and at the same time it could be applicable to another industry. You can use these sorts of platforms to find links between the two.”
Mention – who believes the “innovate or die mantra” is now more relevant than ever – has a keen interest in helping businesses harness the power of social media to drive open innovation.
“Businesses already use social media to connect with customers, getting their input on new products, services or features,” Mentions says.
“But, there’s also scope to connect with suppliers, research organisations, innovation intermediaries and wider communities.
“Social media tools can be used to crowdsource and connect ideas, connect research and development initiatives, seek independent expert advice, promote novelties, and much more.
“We are looking at the various types of social media that organisations currently use or could potentially use, and to what extent these support the openness of the innovation process.”
Besides those “dating” systems, Mention is examining how public social media (like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) and proprietary solutions (such as IBM Beehive and My Starbucks Idea) influence and drive open innovation.
This research will lead to a set of practical recommendations and tools for businesses, so they can approach social media in an evidence-based fashion.
“Our aim is to support the decision-making process on which social media to use, at what stage of the innovation process, and what specific external players to engage with,” Mention says.
Mention is also passionate about connecting researchers for better outcomes. It’s a key part of her role at RMIT, and something she thinks creates value for both businesses and broader society.
“Societies and organisations are going through major transformations, influencing the way people work, interact, and experience the world around them. Understanding how innovation affects individuals, businesses and societies is essential.
“There is a wealth of opportunities for local, national and international cooperation at every stage of the research process. RMIT’s capabilities in this area can support informed decision-making for both public and private organisations.”
Connecting innovators, whether they’re researchers or practitioners, is a labour of love that Mention is certainly happy to pursue.
Story: James Giggacher