IBM ifundIT is more than just a business model. It's a concept: a new way of thinking about investing, innovating, engaging employees, and decision-making in a business environment. ifundIT consists of a set of interlocking parts, including a website, campaign modes, and a framework for managing a campaign throughout its lifecycle. Below, you will find a more comprehensive explanation of each of these elements.
Unlike conventional public crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, ifundIT uses targeted campaigns to meet the needs of enterprise organizations. These campaigns involve planning, infrastructure setup and hosting, and campaign management. Furthermore, each campaign moves through three phases: project submission, investing, and delivery. Each of these phases presents a unique set of decision-making opportunities, but the ifundIT team is available to provide support from the moment your organization decides to host a campaign until the final dollar is invested by the crowd.
Even the shortest campaign requires prior planning, strategizing, and configuration leading up to project submission and investment. The planning phase includes much of the overarching decision-making around the goals of the campaign, including the desired outcomes, budget, scale, focus, audience, and campaign mode. In addition, the Campaign Management Office (CMO) will develop its communications strategy during this phase, and begin to publicize the campaign throughout their intended audience.
The CMO should also take this time to establish a plan for the end of the campaign, specifically concerning next steps for successfully funded projects. It's important to develop a mature plan for the post-campaign phase, in order to ensure that the campaign delivers the maximum amount of viable ideas.
Throughout this period, the ifundIT team works with the organization's CMO to develop a campaign strategy, and gives recommendations based on the CMO's priorities and objectives.
This phase covers the deployment of the organization's instance of the ifundIT tool, and the configuration of the tool by the CMO. This configuration contains two parts - any necessary branding customizations according to the communications strategy outlined during the Planning phase, as well as the specific campaign configurations regarding deadlines, project submission criteria, and investor and user authentication setup.
Throughout this period, the ifundIT team assists the organization's CMO with the technical setup of their ifundIT instance, and troubleshoots any difficulties or necessary adjustments to the tool.
After the campaign officially opens and project submission begins, the CMO enters a period of ongoing campaign management. This is where the work of actually conducting the campaign truly begins, and where it becomes even more valuable to consider the three campaign phases.
Before any investing can occur, innovators need to develop and submit their ideas as projects. During this phase, the CMO should clearly communicate its desired outcomes to the innovators, and ensure that the projects being submitted fit into its vision for the Delivery phase. In addition, the Review Team evaluates submitted projects for viability, in preparation for the post-campaign development process. Once the CMO feels it has achieved a healthy pipeline of new ideas in the form of submitted projects, it opens up the ifundIT site to its investor pool, and investing begins.
During this phase of the campaign, we recommend that the CMO actively moves in the direction of its desired outcomes, through ongoing education and communications directed at investors as they choose which projects to invest in.
Once investing has closed, the CMO moves ahead with funded projects as determined during the planning phase - in the form of development, a hackathon, presentations to venture capitalists, or some other end result. This phase represents not only the "delivery" of funded projects into these post-campaign channels, but also "delivery" of the desired campaign outcomes, ranging from new marketable innovations to increased employee engagement.
Throughout this period, the ifundIT team provides ongoing assistance to the organization's CMO, and continues to troubleshoot any emergent issues with the ifundIT tool. In addition, the IBM team consults with the CMO regarding next steps for funded projects and analyzing the results of the completed campaign.
The ifundIT tool is an independent and customizable instance of a templated website hosted for your organization by IBM. The tool represents both the face and the core of your crowdfunding campaign; both investors, innovators, and the rest of your audience will interact with projects and each other through the website. A variety of templated elements are included from the start, but the tool contains customization options under administrator access to allow your organization to modify everything from the banner of the landing page to the project submission wizard.
The site follows a social paradigm, in which members of your audience receive a profile that allows them to invest in and/or submit projects. Innovators create pages for their projects with images, descriptions of their project and goals, and updates after their project has been funded. Project pages track a project's progress towards a funding goal or current ranking, depending on the campaign model, and allow participants to leave comments. The site also allows users to follow projects they are interested in to receive notification of any updates, as well as "like" projects to show their support.
The ifundIT site allows investors to search projects by project status, category, business area, and country; it also provides the option to sort search results by funding progress, date, investors, volunteers, followers, comments, and likes.
For Campaign Administrators, the administrator control panel includes many of the micro-level configurations for the campaign, such as setting project expiration dates, defining deadlines for project submission, and managing automatic email alerts.
Currently, the ifundIT site is only available in English, though support for French is actively in the works, with Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Brazilian Portuguese planned for the future.
If you're interesting in checking out a demo version of the ifundIT site, follow this link
One of the most valuable products of an ifundIT campaign is the data it produces, especially when your objective is to engage employees and measure interest. ifundIT contains a diverse set of metrics within the tool to help you tap into this resource, ranging from overall site visits and investment levels to individual project likes.
When the campaign is finished, the CMO can export all of this data from the site to a CSV file for post campaign analytics and evaluation.
While these metrics are helpful for assessing the engagement of users and the social effectiveness of the campaign, they can also help the CMO make key campaign-related decisions.
Here are a few examples of some frequently requested metrics that we have found particularly useful.
- Funding Requested indicates the sum of the funding goals for all projects.
- Investment Demand indicates the sum of investments still required for the projects that are actively seeking funding.
- Funds Available indicates the sum of investment dollars which can still be spent by all investors; in other words, it represents the total amount of unspent funding.
- Funds Available vs. Investment Demand indicates whether there is enough money available in order to fund the projects still seeking funding. Think of it as a measure of the "funding saturation" in the campaign marketplace -- if there is not enough money to fund as many projects as you want, you may consider making available extra funding dollars to your investors.
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