Just like Yammer, Icon by Spigit will create internal employee collaboration groups (in this case, specifically for the purpose of idea generation) by grouping by email domains the users who sign up for the free product. Like Yammer, Spigit also plans to offer upgrades to paid plans with more administrative tools, including the ability to create collaboration groups that span multiple email domains, in an update coming this summer. The free version was released Tuesday.
Beyond paralleling the Yammer business model, Icon is available as a social application that you can access with your Yammer login, making progress of your idea-generation projects visible in the Yammer activity stream.
Spigit is in the business of idea management, or ideation--harnessing the creative power of crowds to generate ideas and identify the best ones. Trying to distinguish itself in a crowded market where it counts 41 competitors doing something similar, "we decided it was probably a good idea for us to see what anybody could do with an innovation platform, if we could give it a price of zero," said James Gardner, chief strategy officer at Spigit.
[ Just how wise is the crowd? See Crowdsourcing Cracks AIDS Mystery, What's Next? ]
Spigit has been plying its trade with large organizations and crowdsourcing projects that reach hundreds of thousands of individuals, Gardner said, but meanwhile "there is this other group that is unserved, where smaller crowds or workgroups within organizations need to solve the same issues."
Icon is not identical to the Engage platform Spigit offers to large enterprises, the one that powers WestJet's program for gathering employee cost-cutting suggestions, for example. Our colleagues in the TechWeb conference group also use Spigit as the basis of the Enterprise 2.0 conference call for papers process for submitting session ideas.
Icon doesn't offer as many choices, instead guiding users down a simple path to launching a challenge or responding to a challenge with their own ideas. The home page is a leaderboard showing the most active users and the challenges that are currently running. Applying the principles of gamification, Icon assigns each user a pool of points they must spend to launch a challenge. The people whose ideas rank highest at the end of the challenge, based on the votes of other participants, win points and the glory of recognition. Challenge sponsors also get points for creating challenges that create a lot of interest. This structure discourages people from posting frivolous challenges, Gardner said. "I'm motivated to create challenges people are interested in."
The creator of a challenge can promote it by sharing the link through email or through Yammer, if that integration is in place.
The voting process is also simplified. The system rotates the ideas that have been submitted for display, two at a time, at the top of the challenge details screen. Users are then asked to vote for the one they think is most promising--a simple "hot or not" ranking, in the words of the press release--and the process continues until all ideas in the contest have been given an equal chance. "We guarantee the same number of eyeballs for each combination," Gardner said.
Icon has been designed with a responsive user interface that updates continually via Ajax, with HTML5 formatting that adapts to the screen dimensions of a PC, an iPad, or an iPhone-class device.