An online community can yield considerable innovation and research benefits to an organization. Even if your community was not created as a research or innovation vehicle, you can still create the value of the community by extracting value insights from the community.
These insights come in two forms: those which are solicited and those which are unsolicited.
An entire industry has developed around market research online communities (MROC). The goal is to harness the collective sentiment, wisdom, and creativity of an audience to generate useful product ideas. However, while these might be core drivers behind an organization’s push to develop a community, they are not the only research and innovation benefits.
However, these benefits are among the most difficult to fully capture in a financial metric. These benefits fall under two categories: 1) Those which have a clear equivalent cost (e.g. undertaking research in a community compared with focus groups) and 2) Those which yield a superior performance (e.g. resolving problems faster, improved time to market for new products, or development of new product ideas).