The term “Crowdsourcing” is currently one of the most discussed key words among IS and innovation researchers as crowds are said to be able to produce more and better results compared to experts dealing with the same subject. The major question for both research and business is how to address and leverage the enormous potential of the collective intelligence of a company’s stakeholders in order to broaden the scope of open R&D. The integration of these stakeholders into a company’s innovation management process has received a major boost in the course of the open innovation paradigm. As a suitable approach for leveraging the innovative potential of a company’s stakeholders, Internet based idea communities represent a suitable approach. Although virtual communities sound like a familiar way of gaining access to the customer’s innovative strength, there is only limited research dealing with this approach in detail. Especially the limited literature on idea communities lacks studies focusing on how to implement an idea community from a technical and organizational point of view.
The main objective of the SAPiens project is to identify, how an idea community has to be implemented in order to access the innovative strength of SAP stakeholders in a systematic way and how to connect this community to the innovation management process at SAP. Besides gathering innovative ideas, SAP furthermore is able to approach innovative community members for recruiting purposes. The developed idea community in terms of a software artifact represents a methodically and technically well engineered tool which eases the implementation of future idea communities in line with the action research paradigm. The SAPiens idea community is implemented as an internet-based platform, offering various, theory and best practice based functionalities in order to support participants in their collaborative ideation efforts. The platform itself as well as organisational parameters are evaluated in regular intervals.
The results of the idea community and its evaluation are returned to SAP as well as to the scientific community. For practitioners, the research results provide “do’s and don’ts” for the technical and organizational implementation of idea communities. Furthermore, they provide general suggestions on how to opening of innovation management as well as a target group specific communication.
In 2014, the SAPiens community had 435 registered members and a total of 228 ideas. As a community building measure, regular ideas competitions are held on the platform. The ideas on the platform are evaluated by a jury of SAP experts and academic professionals on a regular basis. Together with the user profiles of the community members, the ideas are furthermore provided to SAP. Besides a significant number of scientific publications out of the SAPiens project, three dissertations have been finished in the course of the project in 2007 (Ebner, W.), 2011 (Bretschneider, U.) and 2015 (Huber, M. J.).
Technische Universität München, Chair of Information Systems (Prof. Krcmar)