A novel crowd-sourcing system has reaped unexpected benefits from mining customers' ideas for business strategies.
Ultimate Software, a provider of human resources and back-office software-as-a-service (Saas), has spent the past year researching its customers' suggestions and complaints using business intelligence software, and has taken up over 70 of their ideas for its corporate products.
"It's been very successful. We've had over 1,000 customer forum users and it's enabled us to see what ideas have the most pull with our customers," Pat Pickren, vice president of product management at Ultimate Software, told V3.co.uk.
"Customers vote on ideas and we can identify fringe business needs."
Customers had signed up for the suggestions forum quickly, according to Pickren, and the system is managed by a few staff members who sort through and arrange voting on thousands of suggestions.
Pickren said that the system also helped explain to customers why certain features are not being added by giving evidence of the support, or lack of it, for particular business services.
Ultimate got its customers' ideas by using business intelligence software from Accept Corporation, which offers a variety of SaaS modules that allow management and users to interact and develop new ideas.
The goal of the software is to allow customers to see interconnections between software and business processes, both within a company and using customer contact. This allows companies to better focus product development spending.
"The companies that are the most successful aren't those that spend the most on R&D but those that spend it in the wisest way," Christine Crandell, senior vice president of marketing at Accept Corporation, told V3.co.uk.
The company offers five SaaS modules covering a variety of product management needs, and Ultimate first rolled out one internally to fine-tune product development before opening up to customers with a second.
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