I attended a joint TEDx and Bay Area Executives Meetup a while ago on how customer social networks are making an impact on innovation, and how employee networks within organizations are helping to break out of organizational silos and cross organizational boundaries.
The conference was divided into two sessions with separate panels on:
• Engaging innovation externally
• Engaging innovation internally
This is the first of two articles about innovation, community, and social networks. This post is about engaging innovation externally. A second post discusses engaging innovation internally.
David Cruickshank of SAP talked about their Labs Project which is open to partners and customers to try out their ideas and technologies. SAP feels that it “get’s it” about innovation and has an Open Innovation office where innovation projects are shared and not “stolen” by the sponsor, which can be a big fear from external innovators. IP (intellectual property) is a big issue.
New Ford site in Deerborn with its Open Innovation facility is another example of customers designing product rather than simply commenting on your proposals – “more than 100,000 applications created in just two years, mostly by individual programmers within the open source community, the spirit of “open innovation” has made the App Store an unprecedented success”
IP works best with complementary partners that have no interest in each other’s area of expertise, for example, a database application and a hardware company (although there are examples of these kinds of relationships not being as harmonious as they ought to be.)
My key take-aways:
• Crowdsourcing and customer involvement as a prime source of innovation is here to stay and is increasing
• Crowdsourcing can be very good for incremental innovation; disruptive breakthroughs, perhaps not so much for sustained development because he crowd might miss stuff.
• Need to position yourself to become the 'escape valve' of ideas
• Difference between consumers and enterprise with respect to innovation: consumers not generally about money, enterprise is ALWAYS about money
• Pain points for external innovation are:
o Socializing the value of co-creation internally, and
o Negotiating IP
• “Technology has the life of a banana” (Scott McNealy)– don’t waste time on IP issues, get product to market
How have you attempted to encourage innovation around your products and services from your company? Have you been successful? Have efforts been sustained or are they isolated and intermittent? Do you even believe in customer innovation?
To read my full write up of the Conference, see TCGen and Bay Area Meetup Social Innovation Conference