1) Product led innovations – here companies like Dell and Salesforce have led the charge in using tools to help them prioritize new product features with IdeaStorm and IdeaExchange (respectfully). These are great for engaging your user base and getting them exactly what they request on a schedule that they can see and influence.
But that’s only going to get you so far.
The reason for this is they are commenting on an existing product and helping to evolve the product. But this doesn’t protect Dell or SalesForce from someone leapfrogging them. Sure it would be hard but look at the iPod. MP3 players were around for a while before the iPod came out and cleaned their clocks.
Therefore I think the second type of innovation you can get from Social Media is Problem led innovation.
2) Problem led innovations – this is where companies like Dell or Salesforce gets outside of their 4 virtual walls and listen to customers in other virtual places for new product ideas. Things they haven’t thought of yet. Then they engage with the users and vow to help bring that product to market. Perhaps even recruit them to become part of a virtual product development team.
Social Media holds a lot of promise for companies both small and large especially when it comes to Product innovation. We have yet to see the full impact of all of this inter-connectedness. But it will take someone who truly studies and understands the landscape to navigate the waters to successfully find leapfrog opportunities.