University of Tennessee

UT Researcher Wins Best Paper Award for Crowdsourced Ideas Study

March 7, 2019

Michel Ballings, an assistant professor of business analytics and statistics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, has received the 2017 Thomas P. Hustad Best Paper Award from the Journal of Product Innovation Management. The award recognizes one study each year that does the most to push the art of new product development practice and research forward.

In the paper, “Identifying New Product Ideas: Waiting for the Wisdom of the Crowd or Screening Ideas in Real Time,” Ballings and his co-authors propose a model that can help product development managers efficiently refine crowdsourced ideas.

“The idea for this study came from the realization that extraordinary returns come from extraordinary ideas,” says Ballings, the Nancy and David McKinney Faculty Research Fellow at Haslam. “The dominance of big tech–Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google–in generating disproportionate returns stems from the timely implementation of great ideas.”

 Ballings says that to produce novel ideas, other companies increasingly resort to crowdsourcing platforms. However, these organizations then must glean, in real time, the precious few best ideas from the thousands of nonstarters.

To address this issue, the model uses machine learning algorithms to (1) process all the ideas in a company’s crowdsourcing repository, (2) assess the characteristics of ideas that the company chose to develop in the past, and (3) rank newer ideas by how likely it is they would be implemented based on the idea-characteristic analysis.

“Our solution delivered state-of-the-art ranking performance,” Ballings says. “The implication is that companies will be able to have access to the best ideas on a real-time basis. I consider this of major importance because to compete in today’s economy, one needs to think out of the box, and any tool that can help with that has the potential to be a game changer.”

The Journal of Product Innovation Management is a leading interdisciplinary and international academic journal dedicated to promulgating the latest theories, research and practices in new product and service development. The most prominent researchers in the field are regularly published in JPIM.

The Department of Business Analytics and Statistics at Haslam is committed to creating knowledge through research and to disseminating that knowledge through its degree programs. Its faculty uses the results of its application-focused research to educate students on how to effect positive change within organizations through the targeted use of analytics. Through its work, the department supports students, by teaching them more than theoretical concepts; organizations, by helping them achieve their business objectives; and society, by producing research that can have a global impact.