Using Enterprise Innovation Software for the Greater Good
Here at Mindjet, we work with some of the biggest global enterprise organisations in the world, helping them to innovate their way into new revenue streams and markets, whilst improving employee engagement. However, innovation shouldn’t be limited to improving business issues. Yes, all businesses should try and find smarter ways of working, but what if these large corporations could use innovation to try and solve social issues?
And, if innovation shouldn’t be limited to addressing business problems, why should innovation software be limited to enterprise use?
For example, the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR uses Mindjet’s SpigitEngage platform to crowdsource solutions for issues that impact refugees and displaced people all around the world. A recent challenge that the agency ran asked, “How can better opportunities be provided for refugees to learn and use a new language, both in school and their daily lives?” Access to the platform — known as UNHCR Ideas — is given to the UN’s international staff, as well as partner NGOs and refugees themselves. This means there is a diverse range of opinions, experiences, and ideas. UNHCR is a great example of an organization taking enterprise technology out of its traditional business setting, and putting it to work to help society as a whole.
But how else could enterprise technology be used to help others? The immediate response is to think big, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. In fact, going hyper-local could be another solution, offering crowdsourcing applications to local councils to get ideas from the community on how they can improve their local area, or tackle issues such as rubbish, recycling, and crime. Even in remote rural areas, access wouldn’t be a problem. As the UNHCR demonstrates by using Mindjet’s SpigitEngage platform in remote refugee camps, it can be streamlined to be accessed via even the weakest internet connection or through mobile devices!
Another idea, which was implemented by Cisco in partnership with the UK government, was to create a platform using Mindjet SpigitEngage for small start-ups to demonstrate their worth and give them the chance to win a $200,000 investment prize. The programme, known as the British Innovation Gateway (BIG), included a competition which ran in 2012 and 2013 that let SMEs and start-ups showcase their ideas and have them voted on by users registered on Cisco’s innovation platform. Hundreds of start-ups submitted plans, but eventually it was whittled down to just six, who battled it out in a Dragons’ Den-style live pitch. Using enterprise technology in an outward way like this encouraged people to think in an entrepreneurial fashion to the benefit of the participants, Cisco, and the wider economy.
Large organisations such as Cisco and UNHCR must take responsibility for implementing these initiatives. As R Edward Freeman writes in the Guardian, big businesses have the potential to solve the world’s toughest problems. They have the audience, the influence and the means to impact on some of society’s biggest issues whilst potentially driving business growth for themselves (as shown by Cisco). This is a win-win situation with the potential to have an impact beyond the enterprise – from promising start ups in need of investment, to solving some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises.