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.
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