Microsoft announces “Surface“. Click the link. Better seen than described.
Those lucky enough to attend last week’s IIT Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference got a chance to see some great presentations from some major innovation thought leaders. I was not one of them, but I have been going throught the materials from the conference which are publicly available. As a proponent of Open Innovation, I particularly enjoyed reading the presentation given by Josephine Green of Philips Design which introduced the concept of social innovation.
Realizing that innovation driven solely by technology often failed to meet customer needs, many organizations turned to a consumer (marketing) oriented approach where consumer research and observation is handled by “experts”. Green believes that this approach is starting to reaching end of life.
Her main point is that we need to go beyond designing around individual consumer needs and start innovating around social needs. Her reasoning: We have reached a saturation point for technology and consumer goods. Continuing to consume the way we currently do is not healthy.
“There is too much ‘stuff’ and a growing realization that filling the future with more and more consumer-driven technology and marketable goods does not necessarily guarantee higher growth, a better quality of life or even life itself, given the state of the planet.”
So what exactly is Social Innovation? According to Green, it goes beyond looking at individual consumer needs to look at the relationship between people and the products/services they use. It involves engaging experts, customers and creative communities to envision, build and deliver products and services which better reflect the needs and values of the future consumer. Green believes that this shift from a Consumer/Market-led approach to a People/Social-led approach is being driven by three factors:
What will be the implications of this shift for today’s companies? First and foremost, you must begin establishing a dialogue with your customers. You will need to facilitate conversations between customers and your designers. Second, you need to develop a Sense & Respond competency and be able to support fast prototyping. Third, you must get really comfortable with relinquishing control of some of the development process to your customers. They are already in control of your destiny in case you hadn’t noticed.
“As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited,” reads the first paragraph of the article Say Everything by Emily Nussbaum for New York Magazine. The article was published in February, 2007, but I just found it this weekend and it blew me away.
Nussbaum profiles several Gen Y’ers; early adopters of social media, many of whom have been using the tools to record every detail of their adolescent years. It’s a fascinating look at the new generation gap where young people willingly and openly share the details of their lives in a way that is unimaginable, even shocking for older adults.
As a 21st century parent, I had been feeling good about how well I have kept up with the next generation. The things that defined the generation gap of the sixties (specifically music and cultural attitudes) are not big differentiators between me and my 13-year-old. What I have noticed over the last few years as she has adopted various social tools and creative outlets on the internet, I have noted her willingness to create and connect with people outside of her local sphere. This is way beyond anything I would have imagined at 13 because the capability simply did not exist. For this generation, it’s seems perfectly natural. Describing a 26-year-old named Kitty, Nussbaum writes:
She left her teens several years before the revolution began in earnest: the forest of arms waving cell-phone cameras at concerts, the MySpace pages blinking pink neon revelations, Xanga and Sconex and YouTube and Lastnightsparty.com and Flickr and Facebook and del.icio.us and Wikipedia and especially, the ordinary, endless stream of daily documentation that is built into the life of anyone growing up today. You can see the evidence everywhere, from the rural 15-year-old who records videos for thousands of subscribers to the NYU students texting come-ons from beneath the bar. Even 9-year-olds have their own site, Club Penguin, to play games and plan parties. The change has rippled through pretty much every act of growing up. Go through your first big breakup and you may need to change your status on Facebook from “In a relationship” to “Single.” Everyone will see it on your “feed,” including your ex, and that’s part of the point.
Parents of this generation have lots of opinions on this new level of transparency. Most worry about risks of sharing private information on the net. There are also the concerns that today’s youth can’t develop real friendships through the computer, that they have no attention span, and that they are only interested in getting attention. Nussbaum counters this argument with a theory put forth by NYU professor Clay Shirky:
“Whenever young people are allowed to indulge in something old people are not allowed to, it makes us bitter. What did we have? The mall and the parking lot of the 7-Eleven? It sucked to grow up when we did! And we’re mad about it now.” People are always eager to believe that their behavior is a matter of morality, not chronology, Shirky argues. “You didn’t behave like that because nobody gave you the option.”
It could be jealousy, or it might be that it’s just not natural for those over 30 since they did not grown up with in a hyper-connected, always-on, reality-based entertainment world.
I don’t share most of the concerns of my parent-peers. I find the honesty of this generation is refreshing; I believe great friendships can and will continue to be made without physical interaction; and what looks like zero attention span might just be an conditioned ability to multi-task which exceeds that of the previous generation.
More young people are putting more personal information out in public than any older person ever would. One 2006 government study showed that 61 percent of 13-to-17-year-olds have a profile online, half with photos and these numbers are rising rapidly. So what’s different between us and them? They have a completely different definition of privacy. They think that the overly cautious nature of “their elders” is strange. Nussbaum suggests that there is a reason for this shift:
Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
A different perception of privacy isn’t the only difference evident here. Professor Shirky suggests that there may be real neurological changes at work here:
They think of themselves as having an audience. They create content and once others begin to consume it, they feel motivated to continue providing and improving it.
They have archived their adolescence. I can barely remember mine. Today’s youth will not have that problem. They take the time to capture the details of their life and make them available for the world to see.
Their skin is thicker than ours. Nussbaum writes, “We live in a time in which humiliation and fame are not such easily distinguished quantities. And this generation seems to have a high tolerance for what used to be personal information splashed in the public square.”
There are a couple of powerful concepts being discussed these days in some of my favorite blogs. Developing your personal brand is one. Conversation Marketing is another. The thinking is that these are important concepts for marketers and businesses to understand and leverage as the consumer has fundamentally changed. Business leaders are having difficulties understanding the importance of embracing social media. The don’t see the point of much of it because they are from that other generation. Instead of trying to figure out the value of the tools, they should focus on understanding the Gen Y consumer. Understand how they are fundamentally different from you in the way they communicate & collaborate, how they create and maintain relationships, and what it is that they value. Reading this excellent article would be a good place to start.
Greg Verdino posted a really thought provoking piece On Friday. Seems that someone created a Delta Airlines Twitter account and the conventional wisdom said that it wasn’t Delta Airlines. From a scan of recent tweets, it seems that they may be coming from someone inside Delta acting in an unofficial capacity, but the net result is really interesting:
revamped the award ticket system for you SkyMiles me”mbers recently: http://www.delta.com/awardt… – you can shop around, calendar-style
sending out flight notices/reminders to those who’ve signed up for my messenger service: http://tinyurl.com/29xt5f
Happy Mother’s Day! Did you know you can donate miles to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation? http://tinyurl.com/yudbdo
Verdino comments that having “an active Twitterer acting as a mouthpiece for the brand (and responding in real time to direct comments and questions from other Twitter users) is truly revolutionary.” “Sanctioned or not, the Delta Twitter-er literally is the voice of the brand for anyone following his/her tweets”. Verdino goes on to discuss the implications of individuals claiming brand ownership and question of whether or not companies should be locking their trademarks.
Using a social tool like Twitter to engage with customers in real time IS revolutionary, but how many companies even understand the potential here? If it weren’t for the attention that popular marketing blogs (Jaffe, Waldman, AdPulp) have given this story, would Delta even know about it (do they now?).
So many companies are totally oblivious to how the world is changing around them. They see social tools as distractions and time wasters. My company, a major US retailer, just blocked access to Twitter from inside our corporate network.
At a time when we need to be finding new ways to engage with our customers and employees to design better experiences for both, management is focused internally on productivity and security. It came as no surprise that company leaders were unaware of the over 350 MySpace pages created by current and former employees. Every one of them references the company name & logo. Many of them are private groups for individual stores. The public ones are great resources for gaining insights into cultural and engagement issues. In an organization of 45,000 people, most of which are 18-25-years old, there is an amazing amount of conversation going on. Rich consumer insights, potential employee morale problems, operational issues, poor management, you name it. It’s all there in the conversations that are happening in the “unofficial” channels of your organization.
So here’s the point: Whether your executives like it (get it) or not, your employees are having conversations with each other and with your customers, and are doing it under your company’s brand. Is that a good thing? Perhaps, if it is identified and supported. Your Gen Y employees certainly have a better understanding of the communication tools and channels that their peers, and increasingly, your customers favor. Sure, there may be messages that aren’t strictly in line with company communication guidelines, but the voices are human. Internally, they build a sense of family which is much more genuine than what comes out of your periodic employee engagement campaigns. Externally, they can establish a dialog with your customers in ways that your highly structured, talking point-ladened corporatespeak simply cannot. Overturn your Orthodoxies. Let these voices show you the way.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Web 2.0 revolution is well underway. Hyper-connected consumers now have the power to influence the way companies do business, apply significant pressure on political issues, and even challenge censorship and legal precident.
No one understands that more than Digg’s founder, Kevin Rose. Last week, the encryption used for HD DVD and Blu Ray (AACS,) was cracked and the processing key was leaked all over the internet. Lawyers were slow to respond, but eventually issued cease and desist notices. When Digg received their notice, the began pulling stories that mentioned the key. As soon as users noticed that their stories were being pulled, they began resubmitting them. Eventually, the first four pages on their site were almost entirely about the processing key.
So if you are Kevin Rose, a guy responsible for an influential and popular tool thats all about “user-powered content”, what do you do? What Mr. Rose decided to do was to be true to what his consumers wanted. He stopped fighting them and made the following blog post: http://blog.digg.com/?p=74
Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0
by Kevin Rose at 9pm, May 1st, 2007 in Digg Website
Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…
But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
At the end of the day, the average person reading Digg is not going to have the software or the expertise to make use of the cracked code. On the other hand, they clearly have the power to affect outcomes in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.
Power to the people!
|IBM employees in Second Life at a break-out session after a keynote address.
I’m not sure if this post is about SecondLife, Innovation, Co-Creation or all of the above. Read on and you can decide. This past Summer, IBM conducted the latest in it’s series of “Innovation Jams“. The “Jam”was conducted online over the course of 72 hours. During that time, every IBM employee was invited to join in a candid, broad-ranging exploration of enterprise-wide issues, challenges and opportunities. IBMers were asked to post ideas on specific issues and topics, build upon the ideas of others and rate the ideas that had the greatest potential to transform their company. Everyone — from the CEO to a college intern fresh off campus — had a say in the matter, and this time, they invited customers to participate.
IBM pledged to invest $100 million on the best ideas to come out of the Jam. One of the four markets explored was called “Going Places” and it focused on topics such as travel, transportation, and virtual experiences. I participated in the discussion and being fascinated with Secondlife, I spent most of my time in this area of the forum. The discussion around virtual worlds and SecondLife in particular was enthusiastic and there were apparently enough good ideas to convince IBM to put 10% of the kitty into developing a presence in SecondLife.
Reuters has a story up about IBM’s continued push into Second Life and other virtual worlds: IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds
IBM has embraced Second Life to an extent unmatched by any other major company — it has more than 230 employees spending time in-world, and it owns some half-dozen islands. Some are open to the public, but most are private, with restricted access for the public. In the Reuters article, Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Palmisano (photo & Second Life avatar to the right) talks about these efforts:
“Big Blue has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It is also looking to build a 3D intranet where its clients will be able to discuss sensitive business information.”
According to the article, he will be meeting with “in-world” employees on one of IBM’s private Second Life islands on November 14th after a real world town hall meeting with 7,000 employees in China.
So far in Second Life, IBM has set up a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, using data that tracks the position of the ball to re-enact points several seconds after they happen. It has also held virtual events such as an IBM alumni reunion.
IBM has it’s very own “multiverse evangelists”. IBM created these visionary positions within the company to go out and preach the virtues of virtual worlds to their customers and to the world(s). These evangelists recently detailed IBM’s Second Life activities in another Reuter’s article: IBM eyes move into Second Life ‘v-business’
Seeing how they practically coined the word “e-commerce”, you have to think they are serious about this emerging v-business. Sam Palmisano is quoted in the article as saying,
“We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?’” Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business, told Reuters in a Second Life interview.
“The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.”
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, IBM Corporation wrote about IBM’s efforts in virtual space in his blog with:
In his blog article, Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes,
“About two years ago, a study conducted by the IBM Academy of Technology concluded that technologies and capabilities from the gaming world would have a very strong impact on all aspects of IT, and made a number of recommendations for follow-on activities, which we have proceeded to implement.”
Irving goes into great detail in his blog about how IBM is entering virtual space, and what they are finding out about doing business in virtual space. It’s well worth the read!
The one thing that has always defined IBM is that they are pretty good at being the middleman, the broker between disparate systems. If you are an IT Director, and you have a mix of hardware and software systems, IBM can come in and help you to get it all working and talking together. There’s a very revealing quote in the latest Reuters article on 3D virtual worlds, and I truly think this exposes the (virtual) space where IBM wants to dominate:
“A spokesman for IBM said its goals go far beyond Second Life, although it currently has its largest virtual world presence there, and that the company eventually wants to see all multiverses integrated into a seamless whole.”
That seems to be the core strategy with IBM and v-business, to be the glue for all of the virtual worlds that may emerge. We will never have a single all encompassing virtual world controlled by a single corporation, it’s just not going to happen, and it’s never happened in the past with any other technology. Do you think that maybe a few IBM employees have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash on their office bookshelves. Can you say “Metaverse”? Hardware is dead; look at the sell off of IBM’s flagship ThinkPad division to China. This is the future direction for IBM, and an extension of what they already do very well.
Irving closes out his blog entry with this observation:
“So, here we are in 2006, once more facing a set of fledgling technologies and capabilities — massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds – that are already being used by many millions out there. Once more we have the very strong feeling that this will have a huge impact on business, society and our personal lives, although none of us can quite predict what that impact will be. It will be fascinating to see where this ride takes us in the future.”
Credit where credit is due: Parts of this post were taken from a fellow WordPress blogger here: http://pacificrimx.wordpress.com/2006/11/11/ibm-cool/
At the risk of going into Second Life overload this week, I would like to call your attention to Bruce Nussbaum’s Business Week Online blog posting today entitled “Second Life, MySpace, YouTube–It’s All About Mining Intentionality“.
I have frequently commented that SecondLife offers a unique stage for prototyping, testing and innovation. American Apparel is doing it. So is Adidas, Reebok, Starwood Hotels, Scion, and others. Mr. Nussbaum’s piece really drives the point home describing the opportunity as “mining intentionality”.
It’s about intention, what people intend to do if given the possibility. Intentionality is part of the ethnography space, part of that unmet needs thing. My guess is that every company, every organization will want to be in Second Life to get at, to mine, this intentionality, as a basis for developing new products and services.
That’s what I’m talking about!!!
The Internet, at least as experienced by most users, feels as if it has at last plateaued. This is an illusion. Forces are coalescing that will produce a shift comparable at least to the spread of broadband. This change will have enormous financial, cultural and political repercussions”.
This is the view of TCS Daily columnist Patrick Cox in a fascinating article published earlier this week. The “change” that Mr. Cox envisions will be the transition to, and large-scale participation in Virtual Worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft. He sets the stage for his argument against those who would dismiss the idea through a detailed description of the early days of the Internet. For those who are not aware of the ancient history of the mid-1990’s, Netscape Communication’s Navigator browser was the disruption that would open up the Internet for John Q. Public:
For the first time, especially when Netscape added the ability to easily put content on the Web, anybody could publish and anybody could access. The metaphorical walls fell and the Web was truly born. For the first time, the Internet was one place, accessible to anybody, and the astonishing transformation began.
Cox goes on to describe the vectors that are converging which he believes will take Virtual Worlds into the mainstream. Specifically, he cites:
None of these things are disruptive, but they do prime the pump for something that is. That something is a company called Multiverse and, not coincidentally, it’s made up of a team of core developers from Netscape’s early days. What they are developing is equivalent of a virtual world browser for MMOs.
Their plan is to provide virtual world creators the client, server, and development tools to create an MMO world. The entire technology platform is free for non-commercial use, so academics are paying nothing to create economic, architectural, sociological and other simulations. For-profit enterprises would pay royalties, but only when their games or other applications collect money from consumers, not before.
This is significant because, until now, creating a complex virtual world required tens of millions of dollars in initial development costs alone. The Multiverse technology, currently in beta-testing, claims to lower the cost of virtual world production to a fraction of its current stratospheric level. For many purposes, such as personal online spaces, there would be no cost at all.
Most importantly, however, all these Multiverse-based worlds, and many are already in development, would be compatible. With the Multiverse client software, users will be able to access any virtual world built using the company’s technology. Virtual worlds will become, in effect, ubiquitous. The Metaverse.
The company is headed by same entrepreneur responsible for Netscape’s Navigator: Bill Turpin. His team includes Netscape veterans Rafhael Cedeno and Robin McCollum, who built critical Netscape server technology still in use today, and co-creators of RSS; Jeff Weinstein, who coded the world-changing SSL; and Corey Bridges, Navigator product manager who then went on to launch companies like Netflix and Zone Labs. On the entertainment side, film director/producer James Cameron, of Terminator and Titanic fame, has thrown his lot in with Multiverse, joining its board of advisors.
Some folks commenting on Cox’s story have pointed out errors and omissions in the historical overview, but that doesn’t change the overall hypothesis. I personally think he has it right. What do you think??
While most of the tech bloggers were going gaga last week over Apple’s announcement of new iPod devices and wondering when the iPhone is going to debut, a few guys with much more insight than me were writing about the real stories behind the “iTV” headline.
I highly recommend both of these outstanding posts.
Carl Howe over at Blackfriars’ Marketing writes a great commentary predicting Apple’s entry in the flat panel TV market. Lots of big boxers like Home Depot and Office Depot are announcing their entry into this rapidly growing market, following robust profit reports from Circuit City and Best Buy. While the success of these Johnnies-come-lately is dubious, Howe makes a great case for Apple’s winning in the TV business.
Apple has design icon Jonathan Ive (among many other great designers), one of the best and most powerful brands in the world, incredible differentiation, and is repeatedly ranked number one for product support. It has a chain of 161 stores that generate 67% of the revenue of Best Buy with 10% of the floor space. And most importantly, Apple sells experiences, not low-priced hardware. They’ll offer two or three choices to avoid the tyranny of too much — and amaze everyone again by making more profits on fewer products.
The result, Martellaro predicts, is that Apple has a strong chance of owning the game in home video entertainment.
Today, the home entertainment industry is confusing. Customers muddle through. Some dare to ask questions; some just plug it all in and hope things work. Issues linger: Is my 1080i HDTV already obsolete? What is HDCP, HDMI, de-interlacing, scaling, 802.11n? Should I go with cable or satellite? Will Blu-ray finally win? No one company has stood up, with courage, and said: “We have a vision. This is how to do it. Follow us.”
Now, Apple is starting to provide that leadership in home theater. They’re defining an architecture, putting the product pieces into place, and developing leading edge products.
But most importantly, Apple is inserting this orchestrated scheme of pre-planned and well defined technology into a massive technology consumption machine fueled by the consensus thinking on the Internet. If it sucks, it’s history. If it’s cool, it’ll be embraced, and any company that tries to force the issue against this massive thinking machine will fail.
The platform dubbed “iTV” will be revolutionary. Apple has demonstrated the ability to bring simplicity to complicated things and they appear to be poised to do it again for home theater. What’s more, iTV will bring video iChat and the internet to the living room. When they introduce a flat panel display, you can bet it will have an “iSight” camera built into the top bezel just as their computers do now. iChat, along with inevitable higher bandwidth connections could revolutionize home-based communications and the “internet from the sofa” will certainly bring increased impulse buying online, including of course, movies and more from Apple’s iTunes store.
Phillips has always been an innovator in lighting and displays. Now they bring that innovative approach to the lowly T-shirt with their Lumalive light emiting textiles. Phillips is currently targeting promotional companies, “looking for new, high-impact media.” Hopefully, the technology will remain costly enough to keep it out of the mainstream novelty T-shirt channel as the visual noise could be overwhelming.
While the textile innovation is interesting, I think the bigger story is that Phillips has discovered YouTube as a great medium for sharing their innovation work. I had heard about this technology, but it wasn’t until I saw the video that I had an appreciation for what it could do. Have half a million people opted in to learn about your company’s innovations?
Here’s the link to the YouTube LumaLive video.
Here’s a link to more Phillips YouTube demonstrations.
The BBC is reporting that Universal Music, the world’s largest music company, has agreed to back a new venture that will allow consumers to download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.
Available from a new music site called SpiralFrog, the deal will allow users in the USA and Canada to listen to Universal’s music, which Reuters’ news site reveals is paid for by targeted advertising, but no details of possible community or playlist sharing features of the SpiralFrog service.
The clueless, digital music business has been going through lots of growing pains over the last few years, but in the end, moving from closed, proprietery models, controlled by the supplier, to a free and open system where the consumer is in control is inevitable. As with virtually everthing these days, the power has shifted to the consumer. Digital piracy continues to flourish, despite high profile prosecutions from the RIAA, and the Russian music site AllofMP3.com continues to operate providing anything you want, DRM-free, at a fraction of iTunes costs.
As Ryan Block over at Engadget said in his blog,
“It’s a step in the right direction, but what do you think the odds are that Universal is still going to require DRM even on free downloads? Now, DRM-free costless downloads with ads, that’s fine, but when is someone just going to offer what we really want: straight up DRM-free media downloads? We’re willing to freaking pay for it, you know? And we’re sure a lot of other people out there are willing to, as well.”
The iTunes model was a great innovation, bringing simplicity and legitimacy to the digital music business; however, the restrictions it imposes are not what the customer wants and, in the end, the customer always wins!
Just saw this story on Engadget, that says Sony, Matsushita, Sharp, Toshiba, and Hitachi have joined forces to create a standard for Internet-connected televisions. The alliance has come together under the TV Portal Service Corp banner which is apparently as stealth organization. Sony and Matsushita look to be the major players in the new consortium, with a 35% share each. Engadget says that the Internet TVs will be Linux-based and will be operated just with a remote control instead of a keyboard. Despite the lack of details, it appears that things are progressing pretty quickly, with the first Internet TVs expected to go on sale as early as next year, and with sales projected to reach 10 to 20 million units by the year 2011. All of this is in Japan only, of course — hope you didn’t get your hopes up too much….
Sprint Nextel Corp will use WiMax technology to build a broadband wireless network in the United States. Sprint will work with Motorola and Samsung according to the announcement (webcast and news release), as well as with chipmaker Intel. The network will be built from 2007 to 2009.
At Monday’s press conference, Sprint said it will invest $1 billion in 2007 and $1.5-$2 billion, in 2008 (not including investments by its partners). The Sprint Nextel 4G mobility network will use the company’s extensive 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, which cover 85 percent of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets.
Implementation of this network will introduce some significant competition markets that are currently dominated by Cable (ISP, Video). Look’s like cable’s free ride may be over.
Many more details on this story at dailywireless.org
Lots of bloggers blogging about this today. Seth Godin points to the story of Nathaniel Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Claremont High School who took part in the survey. Nathaniel spoke for the 62% of boys in his age group who like to multi-task. He’s a big fan of what the computer allows him to do: “You can open five or six programs simultaneously: work on a project, type a report, watch YouTube, check e-mail and watch a movie.”
Seth’s word of warning to Marketers: “If you’re busy marketing like you’ve got my attention, you’ve already made a huge mistake.”
To that, Douglas Karr at “On Influence and Automation” compares the average LA teenager with what his Indiana 17-year old is doing on any given day. If you have a teenager, does Douglas’ list look familiar:
Not only is innovation a hot topic, it is a survival requirement for most 21st century companies. Traditionally, companies have innovated by sending out market researchers to discover “unmet needs” among their customers. These researchers report back. The company decides which ideas to develop and hands them over to project-development teams. Studies suggest that about three-quarters of such projects fail. The company I work for is employing this approach in its innovation efforts.
I stumbled upon this outstanding article from the Economist (March, 2006) which presents several cases where companies have taken a new approach to innovation. Instead of taking the temperature of a representative sample of customers and designing projects around those insights, these firms invite their customers to participate directly in the innovation process.
Eric Von Hippel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is about to publish a book, “Democratising Innovation” (MIT Press) says, “Such innovation has a “much higher rate of success”.
This seems like a natural progression to me, given the rise of the “Generation C” and “Customer Made” trends. Businesses are starting to realize that their customers are ready and willing to help them design a better product/service/experience and they are willing to do it for free. All we have to do is ask them.
The Economist article is here.