Anyone who is managing their innovation program with innovation software is generally amassing a wealth of data. Many people are looking at that data on an individual idea-level, but it’s actually possible to start looking at that data and identifying new themes, trends, or topics that will inform your strategy in the coming years by grouping that information on tags, text analysis, and more. It can be a trend early-warning system if you pay attention to it.

This is just what the City of Calgary did when they launched their civic engagement initiative, looking to their citizens for city improvement ideas. Not only did they get tons of ideas, but they identified ten emerging opportunities for city stakeholders to think about as they move the city forward.

But if you’re thinking about using your data to develop insights, here are just a few practices to consider when it comes to reviewing and managing innovation data:

Use Segmentation to Go Deeper. If you’re working with a crowdsourced innovation system, then you’re not just watching the signals of new emerging trends, you’re learning about your crowd, as well. If they’re your customers, you’re learning about what matters to them, maybe their buying habits. If it’s your employees, you’re learning about how they work, where they hit snags and more. Segmenting further (by age group, by department, for example) might help you customize your response and make more meaningful connections.

Compare Your Data with External Signals. Your system data isn’t occurring in a vacuum. If everyone in your community is jazzed about AI, but regulations in your space don’t allow you to adopt it yet, be sure to both recognize and communicate this discrepancy. See if the trends in your community align to the trends in the rest of the world. Where do they differ? Where do they connect?

Respond to the Data. They say “you can’t manage if you don’t measure, but don’t bother measuring if you’re not willing to manage it.” When you learn things, you have to respond to them. If you find out that your citizens are interested in the sustainability movement, you better be ready to respond to that with messaging (at the very least) and real-world change (the absolute best). The real value of data is in the actions that it informs.

To learn more about the City of Calgary’s Civic Innovation initiative and how they’re transforming ideas into emerging opportunities, register for this complimentary webinar on February 9th. All registrants will receive a link to the webinar recording.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

Featured image via Yayimages.