Connecting to Innovation: How to Fuel Your Network

NodeXL SNA Map of #bigdata on Twitter

I spend my time thinking about networks: how they form, how they grow, and how they become productive assets. So, I was pleased when the organizers of the Data Leadership Summit, Adam Lerner and Charles Holmes, tapped me on the virtual shoulder to see if I would be interested in helping understand and grow the network of British Columbia regional data leaders.

Most businesses seem very interested in understanding ways to increase innovation. Innovation requires the connection of people and ideas.  Social network analysis is a way to measure and understand the collections of connections that are created whenever people interact. The analysis of social networks has revealed that networks that have both more and different kinds of connections are more likely to generate innovation. In other words, organizations that leverage social networks, both within and outside their business, stand to gain significant innovation advantage.

Events like the Data Leadership Summit are an important way to build network insights and connections. In a world that is shifting from “know how” to “know who”, understanding the shape and strategic locations in a social network becomes a core competency of innovative organizations. The Data Leadership Summit is organized to help attendees learn more about the ways networks matter while providing a venue to put that knowledge to immediate use. 

Aspects of the Data Leadership Summit have been designed to measure and then catalyze the creation of a network among participants. By answering the initial survey about who you may already know we are able to map the shape of the existing network. This map reveals the sub groups in the community and highlights the most prominent people in the network. This is a measure of the “before” state of the community.

In the coming days, we will be posting network insights from both the survey and from social media analytics here as well as on social media. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Marc Smith

Marc Smith is a sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer mediated interaction. He founded and managed the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington and led the development of social media reporting and analysis tools for Telligent Systems. Smith leads the Connected Action consulting group and lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. He is a co-founder of the Social Media Research Foundation which is dedicated to Open Tools, Open Data, and Open Scholarship related to social media.