The SMashIng (social media and innovation) research project was established to shed light on the impact of new media, particularly social media, on innovation. SMashIng is a collaboration between research teams from three countries: the Centre for Business and Social Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney (Australia); Medi@Lab-Geneva at the University of Geneva (Switzerland); and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. The teams were led by Professor Patrick-Yves Badillo, Dr Pierre-Jean Barlatier and Professor Emmanuel Josserand. The work of the research team focused on:
- Analysing how social media is being used as part of organisational innovation processes; and
- Identifying organisational best practices that enable companies to foster the productive use of social media.
Social media offers tremendous potential for ‘open innovation’: through digital networks, knowledge can flow in and out of firms, rapidly generating new ideas and accelerating innovation. The SMashIng survey of 290 firms in Europe and Australia found that firms were already leveraging this potential, with 68% of firms in the study regularly using social media for innovation.
While firms are concerned about the reputational and security risks attached to the use of social media, they also see benefits from its use. For firms in the study, social media has been particularly successful in improving communication flows, both within the organisation and with external communities. Social media has also delivered economic benefits for many firms in the study, including entry to new markets, increased efficiency and productivity and higher revenues from new products and services.
Public social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, is the most extensively used form of social media. It is seen as very accessible and is favoured by micro-enterprises in particular. More customised forms of social media, such as company-built or licensed networking platforms, tend to be used by medium to large firms. These larger firms report that they derive significant value from their use of social media.
For firms that want to increase the uptake of social media by employees, there were some clear messages from the study. Regardless of the size of the firm, it is important that staff have training in the use of social media and that managers actively promote social media by themselves being users of social media.
The research was made possible through funding from the Swiss National Fund (grant number 100018L_149855) and the Luxembourg National Research Fund (grant number FNR INTER/SNF/13/02). The research team expresses its sincere appreciation to these agencies for their support of this project.