CitizenSpigit launched to build sustainable government-to-citizen collaboration

In anticipation of Gov 2.0 Expo this week, social platform maker Spigit has launched CitizenSpigit to help governments use goal-driven collaboration to connect with citizens and innovate new ways to deliver services to their communities. In an interview with Spigit CEO and Co-Founder, Paul Pluschkell, he said the government market is ripe for solutions like his. But he also talked about how his product will overcome engagement and sustainability challenges inherent in similar platforms.

Spigit is a collective idea management software that has been successful in the private sector, connecting employees, customers and business partners to share ideas and innovate. The Warburg Pincus-backed company currently serves such industry heavyweights as Wal-Mart, Cisco, Pfizer, AT&T, and Southwest Airlines, among other Fortune 500 companies. The company has seen 3,000 percent license growth in last year, with around 4 million users collaborating to manage ideas, innovate, develop cost savings and share best practices, Mr. Pluschkell said.

“We’re all about goal-driven collaboration. We have user communities of 150 up to a half-million. It doesn’t matter, provided you have a goal,” Mr. Pluschkell told CivSource.

Mr. Pluschkell fancies Spigit the Google of social software. He says Google became the default search engine because they are better at finding the right page quickly by using the wisdom of the crowds. But more than that, Google puts intelligence and algorithms behind the search results and match users to the right Web page.

“Google didn’t just say ‘here are the 3 billion web pages we found’ and hand it to you – which is what most of the post and vote applications do,” Pluschkell said. “We have software algorithms that give people a reputation based on their knowledge in a particular domain and then we use our filters to help people find the right ideas and the right ideas to the right people – what Google did for page results, we do with innovation.”

Now, Spigit has extended their enterprise applications to the public sector through CitizenSpigit – sporting an endorsement from one of the darlings of the Gov2.0 movement – Manor, Texas.

Manor, Texas has used Spigit as part of their Manor Labs project, using the platform’s game mechanics to build virtual currency through participation. Citizens who submit ideas, vote on ideas, comment or otherwise participate earn Innobucks – which will allow citizens to buy prizes. 400,000 Innobucks will get you a ride with the Chief of Police (without having to use your get out of jail free card) and 1,000,000 Innobucks can get you a seat as Mayor of Manor for a day.

“I just love what they’ve done with [Manor Labs] in terms of having fun with the resources they have and then getting participation using Web2.0 technologies.”

“I’ve seen a lot of Web2.0 technology being used by governments,” Mr. Pluschkell continued, “But it’s not sustainable. A lot of the freeware people use is a simple post and vote suggestion box. It will be good for a week or two, but if you have no filters and real intelligence on the data, people will get bored looking at enormous volumes of data and others will get bored because they don’t see any execution on those ideas.”

Mr. Pluschkell says other ideation or collaboration platforms lack game mechanics, algorithms and a basic understanding of behavioral science.

“You have to know where to put the incentives and rewards to get people engaged. Using points and currency, giving visibility to the process will have a positive effect on participation,” he said, “All of these things working together can create the sustainable community governments are looking for.”

On The Business End

A 50,000-member community will be priced at around $200,000 for the CitizenSpigit platform. But Mr. Pluschkell says his company will also offer a price structure similar to ContestSpigit – which is a SaaS application with full customer support, community management and unlimited usage for $5,000 per month. The advantage, Mr. Pluschkell says, is that it’s an easier price point for most governments and the monthly subscription lets them see the ROI before deciding to go further. Spigit is also available on GSA schedule GS-35F-0816P through its federal partner Metrostar Systems.

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