SOURCE: MarketTools

May 20, 2008 08:30 ET

MarketTools Launches Idea Networks™ to Fuel Business Innovation

Leverages Collective Wisdom of Online Communities in the Ideation Process, Enabling Companies to Refine and Act on Winning Ideas Faster

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - May 20, 2008) - MarketTools today announced Idea Networks™, the first moderated, online community insight solution to go beyond idea generation and guide companies toward bigger, better and more complete ideas with the greatest potential for breakthrough innovation. Idea Networks take ideation online, turning it into a collaborative process that can involve employees, customers and consumers. MarketTools' new solution goes far beyond an online suggestion box where rough ideas are collected, instead acting as an engine of innovation where strong ideas are solidified and prioritized by the community members themselves for greater business success. Results from MarketTools' customers indicate that ideas developed in Idea Networks pass concept screening at a rate 42 percent higher than ideas from other sources.

"Viable seeds for growth can be found at all levels within and surrounding your organization," said Judy Estrin, entrepreneur and author of 'Closing the Innovation Gap,' which hits bookstores in the fall of 2008. "The challenge is to establish effective ways to actively foster channels of communication that encourage people to bring ideas forward and establish mechanisms for capturing, vetting and prioritizing those ideas. Online networks can now be used to open up direct and unfiltered communication encouraging employees or customers to make suggestions easily and without fear of premature evaluation."

The process of evaluating ideas to find those with true potential can be time consuming and expensive. For every "big" idea there are often hundreds of mediocre ones. Because most organizations leave the decision about which ideas to test and refine in the hands of just a few people, millions of dollars are spent evaluating and refining mediocre concepts in a futile attempt to create a breakthrough.

Idea Networks change the paradigm, solving idea overload by providing an online environment where large groups of people with diverse perspectives all have a voice in bringing good ideas to life. Instead of simply creating more ideas, Idea Networks help companies get to the best ideas faster. By combining a robust community environment with a refined process and expert facilitation, Idea Networks identify and develop ideas through guided discussions and continuous idea improvement. Using IdeaScore™, a combination of variables that are predictive indicators of potential, MarketTools helps prioritize ideas and turn the leading candidates into formal concepts ready for testing and action. The result is creative, out-of-the box ideas with real potential for market success.

"Our goal was to fill the development pipeline with great ideas," said Pam Forbus, vice president of consumer strategy and insights at Frito Lay. "We felt the best way to accomplish this was to rely on the collective wisdom of a crowd. And we felt there was no wiser crowd than our employees. We have received hundreds of innovative ideas that we're now reviewing and refining for strategic fit and consumer testing."

"Game-changing ideas come from the coalescence of knowledge and insight from sources throughout an organization, from those managing production lines to those intimately studying the consumer, and across functions, from finance to operations to marketing," said Stuart C. Taylor, vice president of insights, North Atlantic Consumer Products, Kimberly-Clark. "It is no small challenge to pull all these perspectives together, even harder to transform them into innovative solutions that drive growth and equity. Online communities have the opportunity to serve as one effective way to address this challenge and unlock the big ideas."

Idea Networks in Action

MarketTools turns ideation into a fluid process that incorporates the diverse perspectives of many people by:

--  Collecting Big Ideas -- Community members submit new or existing ideas
    for the community to refine and build upon. Idea Network facilitators can
    initiate two forms of ideation: Open Ideation, which allows members to
    contribute any idea they think has potential; and Directed Ideation, which
    provides context and direction for ideation focused on a specific
    opportunity.
--  Developing Ideas with Potential -- Guided Idea Development molds rough
    ideas into real business opportunities by collecting and combining input
    and refinements from community members.
--  Scoring and Prioritizing Winners -- MarketTools' IdeaScore method
    prioritizes ideas using multiple variables that are predictive indicators
    of potential, including ratings, poll votes, recent discussion and
    activity.
--  Turning Winners into Champion Concepts -- MarketTools turns the
    highest scoring ideas into Champion Concepts for formal research.
    

Part of MarketTools' Insight Networks family of solutions, Idea Networks can be up and running in three weeks and implemented within an organization as an enterprise-wide collaboration tool or externally with consumer and customer groups.

"Many offerings on the market today, from online suggestion sites to idea management and crowd-sourcing solutions, claim to help companies find the next big idea, but are simply idea factories churning out mediocre ideas, some of which are developed into mediocre products," said Mike Waite, vice president, Community Products, MarketTools. "Our deep expertise with building and running custom online communities gives MarketTools a unique ability to incorporate community tools and collaborative features into a fully-integrated approach that provides a path to breakthrough ideas for sustainable innovation."

About MarketTools

MarketTools is the defining provider of on-demand market research, giving companies and individuals the ability to continuously understand their target customers through innovative approaches based on advanced technology, research expertise, global market reach and an online panel community of more than 2.5 million individuals worldwide. Through Zoomerang™, the pioneer in online surveys, MarketTools provides the leading self-service platform and services for fast feedback. MarketTools' full range of research applications and services provide organizations -- from small businesses and non-profits to Fortune 500 companies -- with unique access to their target markets to uncover unmet needs, reduce time to market and capture market share. MarketTools is a privately held company with corporate headquarters in San Francisco and European headquarters in London. For more information, please visit: www.markettools.com

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