IBM logoIBM CEO Samuel Palmisano has announced what he calls an Innovation Jam – an attempt to come up with new business and product ideas by leveraging the collective intelligence of IBM’s 100,000-strong ‘crowd‘.
According to Yahoo! Business, IBM has “used these online brainstorming sessions to mine for new business opportunities in 2001, to exchange ideas about good management in 2002, and to discuss IBM values in 2003” – this is not a new idea, but is unique in that IBM is looking for ideas from clients, suppliers, consultants, resellers, employee family members, etc. They are going open source with innovation – 2 x 72 hour sessions in which stakeholders pump ideas into the system – “IBM won’t own any of the nuggets that emerge” – but are willing to put up to $100 million behind the strongest concepts.
Palmisano is quoted as saying that this is the first time “a technology company takes its most valued secrets, opens them up to the world and says, O.K., world, you tell us” – sounds like Innovation 2.0!
In fact, phase one of the project has already launched:

“To prepare those invited to participate, the company built an interactive Web site that includes sound clips, virtual guided tours, and video snippets with background information. The jam went live just past 10 a.m. on Monday, July 24. Two moderators were assigned to four topics: transportation, health, the environment, and finance and commerce. The site initially slowed under the collective weight of thousands of simultaneous log-ins, but then IBM employees began throwing out conversation starters. In one riff, people debated using RFID-tagged bracelets to improve the traveler’s experience at the airport. A strand focused on early warning systems for health pandemics. In another, folks weighed in on going to the movies, suggesting sensorial experiences such as seat movements and misting water to accompany their favorite films. This prompted someone to ask: “Will a cinema that sprays water do damage to my hearing aids?”

An encouraging and challenging development from a giant that refuses to lie down.

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