How do we make IdeaJam have a bigger impact?

February 13 2008

Before I go into my thought here, I want to be clear. I love IdeaJam. Bruce, Matt, and Sean have built a wonderful tool. PSC is damn proud to host it and I have nothing to say but praise for the site. I am so happy that Bruce has found a market for the solution. Alex and I talked about IdeaJam in every session we gave at Lotusphere. I have turned customers and IBMers on to the site. I support IdeaJam 1000000%. This is not a negative comment about the site in any manner. Can I be more clear?

One of the things I have been thinking about since Lotusphere is how we can take the impact the community makes on IBM at Lotusphere and figure out how we can do that the other 51 weeks of the year. Here are some of my thoughts. My goal here is to brainstorm.

IdeaJam has given many people hope of a collaborative environment. My question is, does a post on IdeaJam really have enough weight to make an impact on average. Sure, Mary Beth and Bob and others have said they read and follow IdeaJam. Bruce mentioned he is in talks with IBM to have some process which marks ideas as completed if things are addressed or fixed or added in a release. But if someone puts something up on IdeaJam, how does it weigh compared to other things? For instance, here is a few of the things that IBM deals with when it comes to new feature requests:

  • Design Partner programs for a product, if that program exists
  • Managed Beta Feedback
  • Premium Support Customer feedback
  • Worldwide Premium Customer Council
  • Business Partner Round tables
  • Business Partner Forum databases on LNN with Feature Requests
  • PMR Process
  • Requests from IBM Executives
  • Requests from IBM Sales
  • Requests from IBM Development

Add IdeaJam to that list and you have a have a giant list of things to consider doing. What happens when an idea gets 50 votes on IdeaJam but one Premium Support Customer says "No"? 100 votes? 1000? Votes? What is the saturation point.Where does a website, created by the community, have enough impact to drive change?

I also look at the popular ideas. The idea "Move HTML signature into mailfile" has 229 votes. As far as I can tell, that is the top idea on IdeaJam. Is 229 votes the top level we can get? Is 229 votes enough for IBM to take notice?

I believe in IdeaJam, but wonder how can we drive more traffic to it. How can we get the top vote to be 1,000+ votes? How do we get to where an IBM Sales Rep responds to a customer ... "I will of course submit your suggestion/request, and you should follow-up with a PMR as well, but why not put it up on IdeaJam? If you can get people to agree with you, it will have bigger impact when we plan the next version!" How do we get to that level ... I believe that is the holy grail of saturation for IdeaJam.

We can all advertise IdeaJam more. I call on all speakers to have an IdeaJam slide in any presentation they do in 2008. IBM Customers, when you file a PMR, create an Idea as well. Heck, why not link them in some manner? Why not post a link to the idea in the PMR so IBM can see the demand? IBM Business Partners, if a customer has a request, point them to IdeaJam.

I would like us to get to a real, valid 1,000 promotion idea by Lotusphere 2009. That would show IBM that IdeaJam is the premier location for suggestions to their Lotus Product line by it's users and customers.

2008 - the year of IdeaJam. How are you going to make that happen? Share your thoughts.

9 Responses to “How do we make IdeaJam have a bigger impact?”

  1. 1) Turtle says:

    Greater impact? Etch the entire site homepage onto a large granite sphere, then build a really big trebuchet and launch the granite sphere into a swimming pool filled with Jell-O (tm) pudding!

    Be sure and videotape it and put it up on YouTube.

  2. 2) Eric l says:

    If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a noise? The question of relevance is key. If I vote or post ideas, will anyone listen? If IBM does not give feedback at some point, IdeaJam will die. Collaboration means 360 degree feedback. More traffic will come when people realize their voices are heard.

    IdeaJam is so new that I doubt many "software users" are on it. It appears to be mostly techies and Domino "experts" along with a few folks like me (users - not programmers).

    The key for broad use will be for IBM to promote it on their websites (not just the blogs). If IdeaJam sported the IBM logo, and IBM regularly commented on it, usage will go up. Especially if it is "official". This is because people will realize that the someone heard the "tree fall."

  3. 3) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    It is a fascinating question, John. I can only imagine that inside IBM, there is plenty of trepidation mixed with their enthusiasm. It is great to have people percolating up these ideas, but with ideas come expectations, and with expectations come the risk of failure. Even aside from that, IBM also probably has a lot of trouble knowing how to gauge the noise. 1000 promotions is a large number compared to the number of usuability responses they get at Lotusphere, perhaps, but is it skewed to developers or business partners and not users, for example. As a brainstorming exercise, IdeaJam is fabulous, but as a voting mechanism it is pretty flawed, so how can IBM get the best out of the idea percolation and brainstorming without fostering the sense of voting? It is a challenge, but from the response of Mary Beth Raven and others, it is more of the kind of problem they would like to have than not. Better to have ideas and some way of filtering them than to sit around in a dark pub and say, "What should we put in Notes this version?"

  4. 4) Andrew Pollack says:

    IdeaJam is not scientific, it isn't designed to be. It isn't representative. It isn't designed to be. It is informative. That's what it is designed to be. It allows the vendor (IBM in this case) to have one more perspective on what users want - and its a perspective from a different kind of users than they otherwise get. That's all it can have. That's all it should have. It has value enough that way.

    IBM gets input from BP's who say "We can sell it better if..."

    IBM gets input from big customers who say "We'll buy 30,000 seats if..."

    IBM gets power/technical user input from bp forums, design partner programs, etc.

    IdeaJam is away to expand the feedback to include the corporate admin and developer community that isn't often well represented by those other programs.

    If you want IdeaJam to have some kind of objective weighting assigned to it, you'd better start secure validation of accounts for voting, mathematically sound schemas for representing ideas, off-set values for idea complexity and feasibility vs. overall enthusiasm, and a host of other details.

    You can get lost in that complexity, or you can use the tool for what it is best. Providing feedback with a relative level of enthusiasm as well as a discussion that bubbles up new ways to approach problems.

  5. 5) Mitch Cohen says:

    This is a really interesting topic, and one that has been on my mind since Idea Jam launched. I resemble many of the groups on your list of people giving feedback to IBM, and as a customer participating in many of those programs represents a significant investment of time and money (premium support is great, anyone running a large enterprise without it is crazy, but it is not free). Managed Beta and Design partner programs take quite a bit of time, as well as hardware resources that we dedicate in order to properly test the software. For all of this output, there sure is an expectation that some priority is given to requests that come through these programs, as opposed to a public site where votes can be cast by anyone who takes the minimal time required to register, they do not need to be a customer, business partner or even user of the product.

    Having said all that my comments are about the process not about IdeaJam which as a product I think is great.

  6. 6) Sireesh says:

    I love idea jam site. Whether IBM will able to implement the ideas given there are not is another matter. At least we know that IBM knows to look there for what users are asking.

    However Idea Jam site is blocked by many corporates automatically and this is the message we see: Social Networking and Personal Sites are blocked.

    Changing the category of the site might help it reach more corporate users and garner more ideas / votes.

  7. 7) Charles Robinson says:

    How can I link an SPR to IdeaJam? I recently opened two SPR's, but I can't find them in the online databases yet. I suppose I could just put the SPR number into the idea for now.

  8. 8) John Head says:

    Charles, you didn't create a SPR, I believe you created a PMR. A SPR has to be acknowledged by IBM and documented first. So, what I mean is that when you create a PMR, put the IdeaJam Idea url into it. That way IBM can see it as well.

  9. 9) Charles Robinson says:

    I actually have two PMR's that were turned into SPR's, so I have both numbers. :) Bruce said they're thinking about providing some way to handle logging PMR/SPR info, so I'll just hold tight.

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