www.CollaborationProject.org Tools for OnlineIdea Generation A Comparison of Technology Platforms for Public Managers March 2011
OverviewThe past several years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of web 2.0 tools at all levels ofgovernment. Beyond simply using them as communication vehicles, many public managershave adopted these tools as a means to solicit and aggregate ideas from employees andexternal stakeholders on how to solve problems and enhance government services. However,the plethora of platforms and variety of functionalities available can make a manager’s choiceof technology challenging.This comparison of di erent platforms is part of a series developed by the National Academy ofPublic Administration’s Collaboration Project based on our experience conducting onlinestakeholder consultations with government. It aims to assist public managers early in theplanning process of such an initiative by comparing the purposes and functionalities ofdi erent ideation tools. Because the features of each of these tools are constantly beingupdated and enhanced, we intend this document to be a “living” resource that will be updatedto re ect changes over time.Other resources in the Collaboration Project’s series on conducting online stakeholderengagement, including the Online Dialogue Brainstorm Guide, can be found atwww.collaborationproject.org. Please note: The information in this document is compiled from information publicly available on the vendors’ websites, supplemented by the National Academy of Public Administration’s rst-hand experience with several of the technologies. The National Academy and the Collaboration Project are technology-neutral: this document is not intended as an endorsement of any particular technology or vendor. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com to recommend changes or tools that should be added to this document.
Considering your needsMany technologies are commercially available for online idea generation, ranging from low-cost, out-of-the-box tools to large scale, custom-built solutions. As such, many factors shouldbe considered in deciding which technology best ts your needs. These include: Duration of engagement. How long will the idea generation project run? Will it be limited duration or an ongoing “market” of ideas? Community. Do you need to be able to identify your “power users,” those whose ideas tend to be the most in uential? Do these users need to stand out among participants? Responsiveness. Do you need to respond to ideas and comments as the dialogue happens or provide updates on the status of particular ideas? Output. What kinds of data and analytics do you need the technol- ogy to provide? Structure of dialogue. Do the ideas need to be strictly organized or siloed (e.g., by topic), or can all ideas mingle together? Cost and resources. What budgetary and sta resources can you allocate to this engagement? Support. What degree of technical support might you need from the vendor? Deployment. How quickly do you need to launch the engagement? Remember: While deciding on a technology is important, this decision is best made by aligning the the technology to your core purpose for engagement. In other words, let the tools t your needs, not vice-versa.
Platform Description What it does well What it gives the Pricing Examples decision-makerBubble Bubble Ideas is an off-the- • Hosts a two-way • An aggregation of • Free: Up to 50,000 server Mock Bubble IdeasIdeas shelf idea generation tool conversation in which participants’ suggestions hits for the duration of Gov 2.0 site enabling idea aggregation the host can respond to sorted by the thumbs-up- the dialogue; 2 Solve Oil Spill and two-way input, particularly by thumbs-down votes moderator accounts communication between updating the status of received for each idea • $99/mo: Up to 500,000 host and participants. The suggestions over time • A listing of ideas server hits; custom URL; 4 platform allows users to • Allows a degree of categorized and sorted moderator accounts submit, comment, and vote custom design and by status (e.g., under on ideas. The host can • $299/mo: Up to 2 million branding review, in progress, update users on the status server hits; 8 moderator implemented) of ideas and shape the user accounts; sentiment/ experience by allowing • Comment threads for semantic analysis; only-positive or positive each idea that refine analytics/reporting and negative ratings. ideas further • $499/mo: Up to 7 million • Analysis of the discussion server hits; unlimited using advanced moderator accounts; qualitative tools enhanced security; API access; sentiment/ semantic analysis; analytics/reportingCrowd Crowd Wise is a • Helps a dialogue host • Results that reflect a Product is still in (Product is still inWise participative tool for move engagement process that moves development, with plans to development) making collective decisions efforts beyond ideation toward consensus offer a free web-based tool. by helping participants find and into decision-making • A more holistic view of common ground, avoid • Offers a method to find the community’s polarization, and achieve common ground preferences, which could productive outcomes. The between different be useful when the platform works using interests or stakeholder decision needs to be consensus voting, in which groups supported by a large participants suggest, portion of the discuss, and prioritize constituency options for a decision, allowing for common- ground options to emerge that might not otherwise be considered.
Platform Description What it does well What it gives the Pricing Examples decision-makerDelib Delib’s Dialogue App is an • Aggregates ideas based • An aggregation of ideas • Free: Up to 100 users for National DialogueDialogue idea-generation and on a simple 5-star rating sorted by average rating 100-day duration on the HomelandApp dialogue tool built for a scale in a way that shows on a 5-star scale, by Security Review • $350/mo: One forum; range of civic-engagement the “average” level of volume of comments, unlimited users and UK Spending activities. The tool allows support of participants and by time submitted moderators; custom logo Challenge idea submission and • Supports more open- • Comment threads for commenting and uses a • $550/mo: Up to 8 National Dialogue ended dialogue than each idea that refine five-star rating system on discussion forums; on Green and simply idea generation ideas further which each idea’s ratings custom demographic Healthy Homes are averaged. The Dialogue • Provides consulting in • An aggregation of the fields; downloadable App offers a simple, user- combination with topics discussed using reports (CSV) friendly interface and technology to lend “tags,” which be useful Further pricing depends on features intuitive tagging expertise in stakeholder for navigating through scope and a menu of functionality to allow for consultation the ideas additional features, visualization of cross- • Allows for a range of including advice and cutting themes. Delib also custom design and consultation by Delib staff. offers consultative services branding, from default to Delib also offers mobile on the engagement fully “white-labeled” apps. process to pair with a technology solution.Google Google Moderator is a tool • Prioritizes simple • A quick aggregation of Google Moderator is free White House OpenModerator that allows distributed questions or short ideas short, simple questions or for organizations using for Questions (now communities to submit and from a group, without ideas Google Apps or for closed—link goes vote on questions for talks, the need for deeper individual users with to project presentations and events. discussion Google accounts. summary) The platform allows • Gathers and sorts Google Apps participants to promote or questions or ideas in real- Feature Requests demote each submission time during an event by a simple check mark mechanism.
Platform Description What it does well What it gives the Pricing Examples decision-makerIdeaScale IdeaScale is an off-the-shelf • Aggregates ideas with • An aggregation of • Free: Unlimited ideas and Open Department platform that enables idea simple up-or-down votes participants’ ideas comments from of Transportation generation and refinement in a way that distinctly prioritized by simple unlimited users; e-mail Open NASA through a simple, intuitive separates popular ideas thumbs-up/thumbs- and twitter integration; 1 thumbs-up/thumbs-down from unpopular ones down votes on each idea moderator account NARA Open rating tool. This tool Government Idea • Helps generate ideas and • A sorting of ideas into • $15/mo: Addition of a aggregates ratings into a Forum discussion without hierarchical categories, custom logo net vote total, which makes needing to infer users’ e.g., by topic negative ratings possible. • $99/mo: Customized site magnitude of IdeaScale allows for a • Comment threads for design; file attachments; agreement/disagreement moderate degree of each idea that refine custom registration fields customization in look-and- • Allows host to structure ideas further feel and also allows the conversation using pre- discussion to be structured set categories into hierarchical categories. • Allows a degree of IdeaScale was used as the custom design and platform to gather input branding into the open government plans for 24 federal agencies in 2009.Microsoft Microsoft Town Hall is an • Provides a robust web • An aggregation of TownHall is free from America SpeakingTown Hall ideation tool enabling platform to aggregate participants’ ideas Microsoft but requires Out users to voice opinions, the top questions or prioritized by simple hosting on Windows Azure, NASA Martian identify problems, offer ideas on a constituency’s thumbs-up/thumbs- a platform for managing Town Hall solutions and come mind down votes on each idea cloud-based services. together around common Windows Azure pricing • Supports dialogue with • An aggregation of the interests and concerns. It is begins at $59.95/month. leaders that need to topics discussed using also a for generating and check the pulse of the “tags,” which be useful aggregating questions, public or stakeholders on for navigating through allowing the most popular a range of issues the ideas or relevant questions to bubble to the top. • Comment threads for each idea that refine ideas further
Platform Description What it does well What it gives the Pricing Examples decision-makerPubliVate The PubliVate Engagement • Aggregates ideas based • An aggregation of ideas Pricing details are not Ontario Ministry of Platform is an ideation tool on user ratings sorted by participant publicly available. Municipal Affairs that allows participants to votes and Housing • Allows for a high degree post, view, comment, and of design customization • Comment threads for vote on ideas that respond each idea that refine to a question. The platform • Supports initiatives ideas further is marketed toward needing in-depth “challenges” in which analytical reporting participants submit responses to a challenge issued by the host. Examples of the platform’s use generally have a high degree of design customization.Salesforce Salesforce Ideas is an out- • Hosts a two-way • An aggregation of ideas Salesforce Ideas is My Starbucks IdeaIdeas of-the-box tool enabling conversation in which sorted by votes of packaged with other Salesforce Idea constructive idea the host can respond to “promote”/”demote” Salesforce cloud services in Exchange generation with a input, particularly by 3 tiers of pricing, ranging • A sorting of ideas by particular focus on creating updating the status of from $65/month per user topic area a personalized, interactive suggestions over time to $260/month per user. user experience. The • Comment threads for • Supports longer-term platform can host parallel each idea that refine innovation efforts in discussions for different ideas further which the user communities • Identification of “power community grows and simultaneously and users,” whose ideas have segments into groups empowers responsiveness gained the most traction based on areas of interest through idea status in the community updates and blog • Allows a degree of integration. custom design and branding
Platform Description What it does well What it gives the Pricing Examples decision-makerSpigit Spigit is an innovation- • Hosts a two-way • An ongoing market of Price depends on services Manor Labs management platform conversation in which ideas that decision- and level of customization, (Manor, TX) intended to facilitate the the host can respond to makers can use as a but the basic package New York City generation of ideas over a input, particularly by source for innovation and starts at $499/month. “Simplicity” long-term process. Spigit updating the status of continuous improvement allows for the creation of suggestions over time • A collection of discussion forums where • Supports longer-term aggregated ideas by users can submit ideas and innovation efforts in participants’ support vote on the best ones over which the user time. It also enables a two- • Identification and community grows and way conversation in which recognition of “power segments into groups the host recognizes ideas, users,” those whose ideas based on areas of interest updates the status of have gained the most suggestions, and identifies • Allows for extensive of traction in the “power users,” those whose custom design and community ideas gain the most branding traction in the community. • Supports the creation of The product’s design is detailed user profiles generally highly customized, and the • Highlights the platform includes a suite of participation of “power other social media tools as users” well, such as profiles, blogs, and wikis, for added dimensions of collaboration.
Platform Description What it does well What it gives the Pricing Examples decision-makerUserVoice UserVoice is an off-the- • Hosts a two-way • An aggregation of • Free: Offers one Better Buy shelf idea generation tool conversation in which the participants’ ideas and administrator account Ideas for Seattle originally built for product host can respond to suggestions sorted by and one forum, which improvement, but input, particularly by level of support and can be used by up to 100 Ideas 4 Oregon increasingly used for updating the status of volume of conversation voters engagement initiatives suggestions over time • Comment threads for • $19/mo (Tin): Offers involving two-way • Steers dialogue toward each idea that refine analytics, moderation communication between popular ideas, as ideas further tools, domain aliasing, up host and participants. The opposed to focusing on to 100 voters, unlimited platform is most useful for • Identification and disagreements forums, private forums, ideation specifically, as recognition of “power • Allows a degree of users,” whose ideas have and email support opposed to open-ended dialogue, and provides custom design and gained the most traction • $89/mo (Bronze): Offers intuitive mechanisms for branding in the community single sign-on (using host to show Facebook, Twitter, etc.) responsiveness to input. and the ability to export The tool enables idea dialogue data to excel or submission and CSV. Allows up to 1,000 commenting and requires voters users to budget their votes • $289/mo (Silver): Offers by allocating 0-3 votes per commercial API, SSL idea, up to a pre-set limit in encryption, and up to each discussion forum. 5,000 voters • $589/mo (Gold): Allows "white labeling"/ customizable branding and design in CSS Discounts are available for public-facing, government- sponsored forums
About the Collaboration ProjectThe Collaboration Project (www.collaborationproject.org) is an independent forum of leaderswho share a commitment to the adoption and use of collaborative technologies to solve com-plex problems of public management. With the support of dedicated sta and access to theNational Academy’s distinguished Fellows and other subject matter experts, the CollaborationProject convenes members in person and online to share best practices; produces research onthe opportunities and challenges of collaboration; and assists agencies in implementingcollaborative tools and approaches. For more information: Danielle Germain, Director (202) 204-3632 firstname.lastname@example.org Daniel Honker, Analyst (202) 204-3633 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. See collaborationproject.org/copyright for more information.
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