Increasingly, companies of all sizes are realizing that they need to do a better job of getting comprehensive feedback from their stakeholders. SAP is no exception. An effective crowd sourcing platform can become a powerful idea sharing channel, but such an undertaking is not without its challenges. In this SAP Community Network podcast, Jon Reed of JonERP.com speaks with Kuhan Milroy and Anne Hardy of SAP about the launch of SAP Idea Place. Kuhan and Anne talk about how they combined forces to create this new collaborative platform and the issues they tackled along the way.
During this 15 minute podcast, Anne and Kuhan share the opportunities for SAP community members to get involved with Idea Place during its pilot phase. They also explain how Idea Place fits into other established channels of customer feedback (such as the Influence Council) and why Idea Place can play a complementary role while casting a wider net. Listeners of this podcast are encouraged to browse Idea Place and provide input via its site feedback section.
Also, don’t miss Kuhan’s blog Idea Place NOW OPEN for business to SAP Service Market Place users, where he explains that “Idea Place launched earlier this year for SCN members BUT did not include support for SAP Service Marketplace (SMP) users. Even though, SMP user support was planned for Q4, many SMP users were very eager to start participating on Idea Place now. Well, I am happy to say we have developed a great solution.” Idea Place NOW OPEN for business to SAP Service Market Place users.
:45 About the origins of Idea Place and why SAP decided to create this new site and idea sharing process. Kuhan: It was a joint effort between me and Anne. I’m part of the SCN team that manages the Community Network. This is a collaborative venture, and the Solution Managers inside SAP needed to be on board in order for this to launch. The forums on SCN have some very good discussions, but there are legal barriers for product managers leveraging ideas from the forums themselves – a different solution is needed. On the other hand, some companies solicit ideas from customer but aren’t able to track them from that point. Or, they solicit ideas only from certain customers. We were interested in not only including all our customers but to involve analysts and partners and others in the SAP ecosystem.
Anne: I work in the technology strategy group in SAP. I worked for a long term in the research organization for SAP. One of the pain points we had was no direct channels to customers, partners, and others in the SAP community to get ideas and feedback on what we were working on. We needed a place to continue the discussion on innovation. So I joined forces with Kuhan and built a web site where we could not only get feedback and ideas on what SAP research is doing, but to get broader feedback on SAP as well.
4:35 When did Idea Place go live? Kuhan: We went live at SAPPHIRE Now, but right now Idea Place is in the pilot phase. We are starting with bottom up growth because it’s important that any area we open up for ideas submissions has a corresponding product manager from inside SAP who can respond to the input being provided.
5:35 There are already ways of getting ideas/input to SAP, from user group forums to Influence Councils to the SAP Community Network itself. What is different about Idea Place? Kuhan: There are lots of ways to share ideas with SAP. Some customers even asked, “Why would I use Idea Place for this?” But not every customer has access to internal project managers. In our socially networked world we ask, “How can we get a broader level of input from more customers?” Influence Councils are effective but are limited to the customers who are on them. Also, there is power in crowd sourcing that Idea Place can tap into. People can vote on the ideas within Idea Place, an important feature for ensuring the most popular or crucial ideas get consideration. You get a prioritization built up through the ecosystem. There’s also the advantage of having a public channel, open to everyone. The Influence Councils are private channels.
8:05 Much planning and debate went into how to organize the different types of ideas that users will be posting. Why did Idea Place set up the current structure with three main categories of ideas? Anne: There was a lot of discussion about how to set up the site. We looked at different options, such as mapping communities to the top level of Idea Place. But when we tried it, it wasn’t intuitive. We wanted something simple and flat, easy to get started with. We wanted to hide some of the complexity of SAP’s solutions, so we came up with three different top level communities. We are still looking into use case possibilities for the private idea area, and we’d like to hear from the community on what they might want to see out of that.
Kuhan: When you look at the Idea Place site structure, it’s a way to find the different topics, but you can also forget the structure and search. The search should help you dig down into existing ideas. Sometimes it will be better to search for pre-existing ideas first and see if there is a similar idea to vote on as opposed to creating a competing idea.
11:20 One of the key aspects of any community feedback loop is responsiveness. When someone posts an idea, they want to see that they were listened to. How will SAP respond and how will someone be able to track the progress of their idea? Kuhan: When we researched other companies’ enhancement systems and why they fail, we learned that one main cause of failure is that internal project managers don’t respond. Another problem we saw in our research was that you can get thousands of ideas and no way to organize that. With Idea Place, there should be a lot of reduction in overlap. Voting and prioritizing the best ideas should make it easier to respond to the key ideas and avoid too much idea duplication. This should make it easier for our product managers to get in there and take action on them. Instead of responding to 10,000 ideas, the product managers will respond to the prioritized ideas and give input on where they stand.
14:30 And will there be a hall of fame of ideas that started on Idea Place that were implemented inside of SAP or incorporated into products? Kuhan: Yes. Some of these ideas will be implemented and we have a completed ideas area. Once ideas are completed, we’ll feature them there and build that area up over time.
15:00 Any final comments or suggestions for new Idea Place visitors as we wrap up the podcast? Anne: since we’re in pilot mode, we have a section under service and communities where you can help us to improve the site. This is your chance to help impact the site and make it more appealing for users to work with. All users are invited to come and share their input with us!