Manufactured Serendipity: Facilitating Accidental Innovation through a web application
Employees in today’s modern organizations are faced with an overwhelming amount of information, bureaucratic complexity, a rapid work pace, and communication barriers--factors that often prevent radical innovations from surfacing. Though some innovative ideas are discovered by accident within these haystacks of corporate complexity, obstacles remain that can challenge even the most progressive organizations from keeping pace with their competitors. New social software tools provide the promise of improved collaboration, but little work has been done to exploit the benefits of social software in idea generation and innovation. In today’s modern organization, is it possible that social software can increase the chances of serendipitous discovery?
smartSparq provides a platform where breakthrough ideas and happy accidents can happen more often. It relies on the premise that radical innovation occurs when ideas that seemed unrelated are connected in a creative way. Challenges are intelligently routed to employees who can bring a new perspective to them and who are sagacious enough to make interesting connections between fields. smartSparq's algorithms leverage the creativity of the crowd by breaking down organizational barriers into smart and intrinsically fun challenges that will facilitate serendipitous discovery in large organizations.
The Serendipity Engine behind smartSparq leverages the organization’s existing information repositories, and uses machine learning, human computation, crowdsourcing, and game dynamics in an easy-to-use web application to increase the likelihood that innovative opportunities are uncovered in organizations. smartSparq is the result of user interviews, academic research, algorithm and interface development, and user experience testing, and is available as a prototype product.
“Innovation is trying to connect things together that you don’t think are connected and then coming up with something that is innovative.... The innovation you end up with is unexpected.”
–Senior Product Manager, Fortune 500 software company