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We're on the hunt for organizations (companies, non-profits, schools, etc) that encourage innovation in a unique or interesting way.  Sure, every company claims to foster innovation, but few truly do.  So we're looking for those rare gems.  Nominate your favorite examples, and tell us why you think your nominee deserves to get some recognition. 

Obviously, innovation itself is a complex concept that isn't easily quantified.  But as we build up a list of examples, we may find common themes and quantifiable criteria that will help to define measures of innovative efforts.  With your help, we may be able to identify the best methodologies for generating innovative ideas.

8 Insights

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Rethinking Print In A Technological EraCase Details

 

Closed: 27 May 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

 

The business of print has always been a risky one. While the printing press made it much cheaper to print, there were still significant fixed costs involved. In order to make it economically feasible to print something, you had to make sure there were enough buyers, which involved significant forecasting. There were also significant costs associated with setting up each print run, such that it wasn't economically reasonable to do really custom work. Thankfully, in the past few decades advances in various technologies have made it cheaper and cheaper -- even as the rise of the internet has led many to write off the opportunities for print publishing, and even suggest that paper was dying.

Yet, what if that same trends, of ever decreasing technology costs combined with increasing quality and internet connectivity, enable a new era of print? These trends have the ability to enable things that simply couldn't be done before. We're seeing the beginnings of this with print-on-demand and self-publishing services, but where does it go from here? How far will these technology trends take us in creating totally new opportunities for print? When it's easy and cost effective to not just self-publish, but *micro-publish* suddenly the entire stream of possibilities becomes different. A photographer can publish a special magazine for every attendee at a wedding (even with the attendee's photo customized to be on the front). Or a novelist can let fans buy each chapter to be delivered fresh each month (or week!) as she finishes it. A textbook maker can create a totally customizable textbook, listing out a series of chapters online, allowing professors/teachers/students to create their own combination based on what works best for them.

And those are just a few starter ideas. HP is sponsoring this conversation (with more info at futureofprint.com) about how these trends will enable all sorts of new possibilities and business models. What new opportunities will be enabled thanks to ever cheaper print-on-demand offerings that combine customization, high quality and the connectivity of the internet? What new businesses may spring out of this convergence? What new hobbies, side projects, cultural artifacts? We're looking for creative thinking on where these trends will take us and what they'll enable.

28 Insights

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Rules For Cautious ExpansionCase Details

 

Closed: 27 May 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Continuing from our earlier cases, American Express is sponsoring more conversations here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses can handle the current economic environment. Contributions to our past discussions have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog, and we're looking for further insights that will complement the topics on the economy section of the OPEN Forum blog.

While the headlines are still somewhat gloomy, there are some signs that the economy may be starting to turn around, and some businesses are trying to start up or grow. If you're a part of this group, there are obvious reasons to be cautious. So what steps are you taking to make sure your plans for growth are not foolhardy in this environment? What kinds of expansion are justifable? What resources are available to small businesses that are trying to expand during economic hard times? These are just a few topic suggestions, feel free to contribute your own recommendations.

Ideally, submissions will contain specific examples and personal experience. Any insight that is selected to be published on the American Express OpenForum blog will be awarded a payment. You may submit multiple insights, but make each submission a post that can stand alone.

6 Insights

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Businesses In Symbiotic RelationshipsCase Details

 

Closed: 14 Apr 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Continuing from our earlier cases, American Express is sponsoring more conversations here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses can handle the current economic environment. Contributions to our past discussions have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog, and we're looking for further insights that will complement the topics on the economy section of the OPEN Forum blog.

For this case, we're looking for small business owners who have found that teaming up with other business has improved both organizations. If you've experienced this phenomenon, tell us how you developed the relationship. How did it evolve? Why do you think the match was successful? Did you actively search out another business to help out yours? If so, how did you go about doing so? What do you think are the most important criteria to evaluate before partnering with another operation?

Ideally, submissions will contain specific examples and personal experience. Any insight that is selected to be published on the American Express OpenForum blog will be awarded a payment. You may submit multiple insights, but make each submission a post that can stand alone.

8 Insights

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Improving Customer Service For Better SalesCase Details

 

Closed: 24 Mar 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Continuing from our earlier cases, American Express is sponsoring more conversations here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses can handle the current economic environment. Contributions to our past discussions have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog, and we're looking for further insights that will complement the topics on the economy section of the OPEN Forum blog.

Given the economic slowdown, many small businesses are putting in some extra effort to retain and gain customers. How can small business owners effectively execute improvements in customer service for this? How should any changes be measured to determine if they work? When does a small business owner know when customer service is good enough? What can managers do to encourage and inspire great customer service from employees? These are just a few topic suggestions, feel free to contribute your own recommendations.

Ideally, submissions will contain specific examples and personal experience. Any insight that is selected to be published on the American Express OpenForum blog will be awarded a payment. You may submit multiple insights, but make each submission a post that can stand alone.

20 Insights

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Finding Small Business Optimism Amid The PessimismCase Details

 

Closed: 28 Feb 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Continuing from our earlier cases, American Express is sponsoring more conversations here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses can handle the current economic environment. Contributions to our past discussions have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog, and we're looking for further insights that will complement the topics on the economy section of the OPEN Forum blog.

Recent news stories have painted a grim picture of the state of the economy, but dwelling on the negatives isn't likely to help the economy. Do you know examples of small businesses that are adapting and also keeping employee morale high? Do you know of any small businesses that are actually faring better in our current economic crisis? Do you have practical advice on how a small business can manage this recession? We're looking for optimistic insights to offset the pervasive gloom, but we don't want to sugar-coat reality. Our goal is simply to highlight small business practices that might help owners and managers. Additionally, the insights from this case could also inspire future topics and cases for American Express' OPEN Forum.

This case ends soon, so please try to submit early. Any insight that is selected to be published on the American Express OpenForum blog will be awarded a payment. You may submit multiple insights, but make each submission a post that can stand alone.

15 Insights

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Small Business Strategies For The New YearCase Details

 

Closed: 10 Dec 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

As you probably know from our earlier cases, American Express is sponsoring a conversation here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses are dealing with the financial crisis. Already, a bunch of the insights generated by those earlier discussions have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog. Some great examples of the type of content include Zack Miller's post on Black Swan Contingency Planning and Dennis Howlett's Quick Tips for Small Businesses. If you decide to participate in this case, we suggest those two posts are great examples of the level of quality to strive for.

This time, we're looking for more insight from small business owners on issues as we approach the end of the year.  How are you approaching your strategy for the end of this year, as many are worried that holiday spending won't be what it's been in the past?  Alternatively, how are you gearing up for this financial climate as we head into 2009 and how would you recommend others do so.  We're also curious how the changing political environment, and the various efforts to create various stimulus packages (or bailouts) might impact the way you do business.

To enter, please submit a post around these concepts. Please try to avoid just listing out the questions here and answering each one separately. The description is just a conversation starter, from which we hope you'll craft an interesting, insightful, compelling, and relevant blog post that will be helpful to small business owners, such as yourself. The goal here is to go beyond what everyone else is talking about, and dig a little deeper.

This case uses the "claiming" system. You can claim a slot and reserve that spot for yourself, guaranteeing payment if the response actually does meet the guidelines laid out in the case description. Any insight that is selected to then be placed on the American Express OpenForum blog, also will be designated a "top insight" and the authors will be granted the additional bonus on top of the guaranteed claim amount. Please be aware that claiming a spot but failing to submit an insight will lead to a poor rating and an inability to participate in future cases.

12 Insights

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How Is Your Small Business Holding Up In This Financial Crisis?Case Details

 

Closed: 17 Nov 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

As you probably know from our earlier case, American Express is sponsoring a conversation here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses are dealing with the financial crisis. Already, a bunch of the insights generated by that first discussion have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog. Some great examples of the type of content include Zack Miller's post on Black Swan Contingency Planning and Dennis Howlett's Quick Tips for Small Businesses. If you decide to participate in this case, we suggest those two posts are great examples of the level of quality to strive for.

This time, we're looking for a little reflection. Now that we're well into the financial crisis, and some of the initial concerns have been somewhat alleviated (at least temporarily), how is your small business managing? It looks like the worst fears of the financial crisis (complete economic meltdown) have been avoided, but there's still plenty to be concerned about. Now that we're past that first stage, though, what more concrete steps are you taking or would you advise other businesses to take to manage to survive the current economy? Are these steps different than what you had originally expected?

To enter, please submit a post around these concepts. Please try to avoid just listing out the questions here and answering each one separately. The description is just a conversation starter, from which we hope you'll craft an interesting, insightful, compelling, and relevant blog post that will be helpful to small business owners, such as yourself. The goal here is to go beyond what everyone else is talking about, and dig a little deeper.

This case uses the "claiming" system. You can claim a slot and reserve that spot for yourself, guaranteeing payment if the response actually does meet the guidelines laid out in the case description. Any insight that is selected to then be placed on the American Express OpenForum blog, also will be designated a "top insight" and the authors will be granted the additional bonus on top of the guaranteed claim amount. Please be aware that claiming a spot but failing to submit an insight will lead to a poor rating and an inability to participate in future cases.

8 Insights

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Should Cell Phone Use Be Banned In Restaurants, Theaters and Classrooms?Case Details

 

Closed: 6 Nov 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

LetsTalk's PhoneTalk blog wants to add new voices to its website, and they're posting regular Cases here for the Insight Community to add interesting new content to their site. The winning submissions for each Challenge Case will be posted (perhaps with some editing) on the PhoneTalk blog -- with credits to the author. The following is LetsTalk's next assignment:

Talking loudly on a cell phone in public is pretty much universally frowned upon. There have been plenty of attempts to ban mobile phones in classrooms and theaters, but is there a better way to let phone users know when it's not appropriate to use their phones? Are there technological solutions that would help? What do you think of subvocal microphones or software that would prevent dangerous or impolite phone use? What kind of etiquette rules would you suggest for various locations? How could these rules best be enforced?

 

14 Insights

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The Financial Crisis' Impact On Small BusinessCase Details

 

Closed: 8 Oct 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Following the discussion on Techdirt about the financial crisis, American Express wanted to sponsor a Techdirt Insight Community Case to facilitate a larger conversation about how this impacts small businesses, and what they can do during this crisis. To kick it off, we've written another post on Techdirt and on American Express' OpenForum blog, about how the financial crisis might impact small business, but we want to hear from you, based on your experiences, recommendations and perspectives as owners, workers or partners of small businesses.

As a conversation starter, you can discuss whatever you want about how this current financial criss might impact small business and how they can and should deal with it. Here are some topics that could be worth covering:

  • What are the implications of the current economic crisis for small businesses?
  • How can you plan to survive this crisis?
  • What advice do you have for others in your shoes?
  • What do you do if your bank goes under?
  • What steps can you take to protect yourself from the impact of the wider market?
  • What does this mean about your small business?
  • What is next for the overall economy?
The best insights will get posted to the American Express OpenForum blog as well.

This case uses the "claiming" system. You can claim a slot and reserve that spot for yourself, guaranteeing payment if the response actually does meet the guidelines laid out in the case description. Any insight that is selected to then be placed on the American Express OpenForum blog, also will be designated a "top insight" and the authors will be granted the additional bonus on top of the guaranteed claim amount. Please be aware that claiming a spot, but failing to submit an insight will lead to a poor rating.

10 Insights

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Strategies For Cadbury Schweppes To Engage Consumers And Promote Its US Retail ChannelsCase Details

 

Closed: 21 Apr 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $1,000 for Insights on this case.

Cadbury Schweppes sells a wide variety of beverages in the US including brands like Seven-Up, Dr. Pepper, Snapple, Motts, Hawaiian Punch, Canada Dry and A&W. The company is looking for ways to go beyond the normal web offerings of online coupons, and they want to create real value for their retail partners -- using the internet to drive customers to those retailers.

They want to focus their efforts on their top retail channels in the US, like Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion, Albertson, Stop & Shop, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, YUM, 7-Eleven, CVS. The key goal is to find ways to use Cadbury Schweppes brands as an asset to bring shoppers into the stores (not just to buy Cadbury Schweppes drinks). Don't limit yourself to just focusing on drinks. The ideal project drives more interest in getting shoppers into retail partners, increasing the overall amount of consumer spending.

What innovative and new ideas are there for engaging shoppers with retailers & Cadbury Schweppes brands online that can translate to added profitable sales for retailers? Please describe specific examples of strategies that could be employed, and estimate budgetary and return on investment factors for any proposed solutions.

 

16 Insights

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