Social Product Innovation Predictions for 2012 and Beyond


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My last few blog posts have detailed some of the common challenges around social product innovation and the steps companies can take to overcome them. With today’s post, I want to take a brief break from discussing challenges and talk about some predictions for social product innovation in 2012.

It’s clear that social media has had a huge impact on our personal and professional lives. What predictions can we make for the use of social media and related social technologies to improve product innovation? To help answer that question, and with the help of Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity, we turned to the results of Kalypso’s annual Social Product Innovation surveys from 2010 and 2011. The findings and trends from the research help us understand where we are on the journey toward mature and effective social product innovation practices. The data helps us make the following predictions for 2012:

  • Companies that have adopted social product innovation will increase their usage based on the benefits they are already receiving
  • Companies that stepped back to re-plan in 2011 will re-emerge on the social product innovation scene in 2012
  • Companies will likely see even greater benefits in 2012 based on lessons learned and emerging best practices

Benefits in this early stage are still evident, even though many companies are still experimenting with the use of social models and technologies for product development and innovation. Similarly, challenges persist, and not all companies are equally successful. Many have had false starts. Kalypso’s 2011 survey showed that many companies have had mixed results from their social product innovation initiatives. In fact, the research shows that the use of social product innovation declined from 2010 to 2011.

Figure 1: Percentage of Companies Developing a Social Product Innovation Strategy (2010 and 2011)

Click to enlarge

Many early programs were grass roots efforts and companies did not allocate the proper resources to social product innovation. A lack of understanding, expertise and best practices reflect the immaturity of current business practices.

There has been an important shift to note. It appears that some companies have taken a step back. As in 2010, the 2011 survey results indicate that about one-half of companies either have – or are developing – a strategy or plan to use social product innovation. But the shift (see arrow in the figure) indicates that while they plan to increase the use of social product innovation, some are stepping back to re-develop their plans.

Given the early stage of the social product innovation movement, this is a healthy sign that companies are examining what they have learned and developing strategies to move forward. They are putting their false starts to rest and taking advantage of what they learned from both their failures and their successes.

These observations help us predict that 2012 will bring a continued evolution and maturation of social product innovation strategies. The benefits are attainable. While most companies have been experimenting and trying to find practices that help them out-innovate and outpace their competition, the lessons of 2010 and 2011 will help accelerate and deepen benefits in 2012. We predict continued growth in social product innovation building on the successes companies have achieved over the last two years.

The hype period has passed, and now it is time to develop a solid social product innovation strategy and get down to (social) business.

My next blog post will cover leading practices for navigating the myriad of technologies available to support social product innovation initiatives.

About the author:

Amy Kenly has over 14 years professional experience in innovation, product development and PLM. Kenly, a regular speaker and blogger on social product innovation, has been selected by PDMA to author a chapter on “Social Media and New Product Development” for the upcoming third edition of the PDMA Handbook on New Product Development. Kenly leads Kalypso’s Social Product Innovation practice, which has recently published the white paper “Social Media and Product Development: Early Adopters Reaping Benefits amidst Challenge and Uncertainty.” To access the white paper and research findings, visit