I got an e-mail from one of my corporate innovation contacts working to refresh and update their innovation portal experience for both internal and external users. He asked this question: “With regard to the external user experience, are there any innovation portals that stand out to you as being particularly innovative and/or deliver an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface from your perspective?”
To be honest, I can’t recommend many at all. Very few are great, most are average and some are just plain bad. In short, I am not really that impressed by what has been launched recently and there is definitely room for improvement.
I have to say that I do not get to interact in depth with such portals. I usually take a quick look to get a feel of the design and ease of use. I also pay attention to the information given and the language used. Is it informative? Does it serve a purpose? Does it provide compelling reasons for visitors to engage or is it all about the company?
With this said, let me give you a few examples of what I like and what I don’t like and why this is so:
Some good ones…
GE Ecoimagination Challenge: They have turned this into a great concept, which is highly engaging and also seems to bring strong business value to GE. This is one of the few exceptions from the masses of average or outright poor portals.
LEGO Cuusoo: This is a great example of how a company can combine different approaches in order to get external ideas and input into their innovation process. They work with a partner on the platform itself (Cuusoo), they use crowdsourcing (10,000 supporters needed for suggestions) and they reward the individuals (co-creation between LEGO and individuals). I really look forward to seeing other open innovation portals from LEGO.
Some mixed ones…
Clorox Connects: I like how Clorox work with communities on which they have lots of knowledge. This will become very valuable in the coming years as the future winners of innovation know how to make communities work. However, Clorox could make the portal more engaging both with regards to the design and the communication efforts.
Unilever: This is kind of an opposite of Clorox. I really like their vision and how they communicate. Quite engaging. They also have a nice and inviting design. It will be interesting to see how Unilever will bring communities into this portal.
Some bad ones…
Intuit Collaboratory: What the heck happened here? They did great stuff in 2011, but it looks like they just flat-out stopped by then. Portals with out-dated information like this can kill a company’s open innovation initiatives as external partners rightfully so start to wonder about the seriousness of the company. I don’t understand why they do not just take the site down until they are ready to deliver a decent effort again.
Medtronic: Why should you innovate together with Medtronic? They don’t provide a good answer themselves. However, my biggest issue with Medtronic is that they are about to blow a golden opportunity to lead the med-tech industry with regards to open innovation. The speed of execution is an important factor, but they don’t seem to be in a hurry at Medtronic. Wake up, please!
This is just a quick and dirty take on a couple innovation portals. You can also find some inspiration here: 40 Examples of Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing
Please let me know about portals that you like or not…