Use of Enterprise 2.0 in the Professional Services Sector

IBM logo

IBM logo

It would be probably hard to find anyone in the developed world who is not familiar with the name IBM. It is less well-known that the multinational technology giant owns the world’s largest corporate research organisation, IBM Research, which has eight labs in six countries, employing over 3000 researchers in total.

IBM Innovation Jam

IBM Innovation Jam

Since 2001, IBM has been using various online “jams” to involve their workforce all over the world (more than 300,000 employees) to collaborate on various topics and to solve problems. The largest jam event titled Innovation Jam took place in 2006, where IBM set up a jam to discover novel ideas of using existing technology and find ways for commercialising them. With more than 150,00 participants, the event could be considered the largest brainstorming event ever held in the world to date, which resulted in 46,000 ideas in total. These ideas that had been subsequently analysed by senior management for weeks to extract the ones suitable for commercialisation. This is an excellent example of the Collect Information and Insights value lever. As of now, IBM’s crowd sourcing efforts have resulted in more than US$700 profit.

In 2007, IBM made the online platform available to other organisations outside of IBM to foster innovations through online collaboration. Just to illustrate the enormous success of the platform, the following major jam events have taken place in 2010 alone:

A five-day long security jam involving more than 4000 security experts from all over the world, including military officials and government leaders, that resulted in thousands of ideas, some of which were presented to the NATO and the European Union.

Coventry City Council in Coventry, England, invited residents to participate in a brainstorming session to discuss a 20-year plan on the modernisation of the city.

600 organisations, including government agencies, non-profit institutions and corporations jammed to come up with novel ideas in regards to volunteering and public service.

The example of IBM illustrates that Enterprise 2.0 ideas and concepts can be utilised with great commercial success if the company fully stands behind adapting these novel technologies. It is for almost certain that more and more companies will follow IBM’s example in the coming years and implement similar solutions to foster new innovations and maximise their profit in turn.


IBM Jam events
A Global Innovation Jam – Cultural Impacts
An Inside View of IBM’s ‘Innovation Jam’
A Global Innovation Jam – Transforming the World
The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies


17 thoughts on “Use of Enterprise 2.0 in the Professional Services Sector

  1. Agree with you..Enterprise 2.0 ideas can bring lots of benefits for companies.I think that’s one of the reasons why IBM is now so successful..And another reason I am thinking is that they did, they are still doing and I believe will continue to do useful research..research on the right track..When users exactly get benefits from one service that they are using, they will believe and continue using this service even without any advertising…That’s a kind of public reputation..Nice post!I am really enjoying..

  2. Talk about crowdsourcing leveraged to the enth degree. IBM seem to have taken deriving customer insights to a whole new level. It appears that their “Jams” are places where professionals are given a chance to share ideas and generate new ones with the value being shared by all. What a wonderful idea, It almost makes my cynical heart wonder if there might still be some genuine altruism in the world. Thanks for your post, and if you get a chance, maybe you would have some input into my latest post (

    • Well, it might be partly altruism, but just for the record, the main purpose of whole jamming initiative was to come up with novel ideas on how to commercialise existing technology. Still, such a platform could be used for less commercial endeavours too in the future.

  3. Hi Digital Rainforest
    Thank you for a nice read and enlightening me about “online jam” which is a new term to me. WOW 46.000 new ideas seem like a lot of input for the management to sort from after the session. I bet they also have to deal with a lot of redundancy is way. Maybe IBM could consider having minor internal pre-jams in order to come up with the best ideas in groups and then afterwards presenting these in the final “jam-session” – just an idea  Anyway again I really liked how you approached the assignment with a really cool case and Enterprise 2.0 tool! I must say that I struggled a bit with the assignment this time, finding a company that benefit from using blogs and wikis, but hopefully you will have a look and tell me what you think 🙂

    • Thanks, I’m glad you found this week’s post interesting again. Yes, the biggest part of the task was actually going through all those ideas and selecting the ones that had the potential to be commercialised. In one of the references there’s a detailed description of the whole process and what’s most interesting is that even though the participants had generated tons of useful ideas, it was still the executive management’s task to sort the best ones with potential out from the rest. So in this example the management did not come up with the actual strategy itself, but they let the “crowd” to brainstorm in a rather chaotic and unstructured way and they acted as a “filter” to consolidate the results later on. I think this is quite fascinating and it’s a rather novel way to involve employees in the decision making process.

  4. Hi there! Great post, I really enjoyed the way you presented information about IBM. Their ‘jamming’ is such a huge display of crowdsourcing and obviously it has been really successful for them, I wonder how many other organisations are utilising similar techniques… Would you say that these ‘jams’ are similar to blog posts in some sense? Do they link them all up to other social media pages, like their twitter page?
    If you have time I would love your feedback on my latest post- 🙂

    • Actually, there were no details in my references about the particular technology IBM was using for the jams, but it was mentioned that they’re using a custom software platform for these events. Maybe doing some in-depth research about the system could be the topic of a future blog post 🙂

  5. Hi! 😀
    Wow IBM will surely gain a lot of benefits from the “jamming”. And I would say, as the trend-setter of the “jam”, other companies who want to imitate this concept might not be as good as IBM’s. The security and system-handling might also be a big consideration for them, because IBM already has the experience in this area, while the others could meet errors and issues.
    By the way, nice post and what a good way to choose the company. I like it!

    By the way can you take a look at mine?


    • Exactly, I think that was the reason why they could market and sell their jamming platform to other companies. The name of IBM and the success of their 2006 jams was probably the best marketing any company could hope for to sell their products. Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you found my post interesting 🙂

  6. Hi there, good article! It’s certainly impressive how well IBM performs in so many different areas. THis jam of theirs is yet another inspiring effort of theirs to do and aspire higher and higher. Excellent application of a McKinsley value lever.

    What do you think would complement this value lever to enhance IBM further?

  7. “Agree with you. IBM seems to play a great role in promoting a community value, increasing knowledge and creating a highly flexible communication in the workplace. Incorporating IBM is significant to improve customer relationship management and to foster response to workload demands”

  8. Hi Vivien,
    A well written post :). Wow IBM really promote the crowd sharing and collaborative side of things. Its great to see such a large corporation trying to improve the community knowledge basis. You speak about more companies following in the footsteps of IBM, which do you believe would best benefit from such a strategy?


    • Thanks for your comment, I’m glad you liked it 🙂 I think all major corporations would benefit from adopting such a strategy. As with all new technology, in the beginning a company may gain competitive advantage by adopting it, but after it has become mainstream and the norm, no one can afford NOT to use it. I think we will see something similar happening with crowd sourcing in the future which would apply to all companies.

  9. Pingback: Return on Investment (ROI) of Social Technology Implementations | digital rainforest

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