I have a bunch of articles awaiting comment, but this one seems to demand quick turnaround. A colleague forwarded How Companies Are Using IT To Spot Innovative Ideas by David Greenfield from InformationWeek's 10 November 2008 issue. It highlights how research organizations are adding prediction markets to their process of selecting new ventures to pursue.
The use of these collective decision-making technologies, both sophisticated prediction markets and simple voting tools, is spreading, and they're increasingly being paired together as a component of corporate innovation programs, helping companies sort through reams of ideas--from new products to customer service to productivity improvements--to find that handful of blockbusters.
The idea of prediction markets always leads down the discussion path for wisdom-of-crowds. In these examples -- people with related domain knowledge all working together to gauge what ideas seem to have the most value for potential research. But this isn't that much different from what goes on within good research companies on a regular basis. And this article highlights that prediction markets aren't necessarily a silver bullet. If you aren't getting valuable ideas to begin with, using collective filtering on bad ideas isn't going to do much good.
But where do companies get those better ideas? That's the golden question. Based on everything I've seen and done, the surprising new ideas come from a combination of "the prepared mind" (expertise) and strange ideas that appear to come from left field -- the innovation-in-the-gaps concept.
The article from InformationWeek is clearly focused on technologies that support prediction markets. Bringing together opinions from people spread around the company, or around a larger industry, essentially requires smart use of technologies. It be fun to play with some of these in real-life situations. I could even imagine doing something like this with customers -- assuming we had a large enough body of people who would participate.