Archive for June 18th, 2008

Moving towards Mass collaboration

One book which really got me thinking earlier this year was Wikinomics. Although this book, in my view,¬†perhaps exaggerated the situation a bit, there is a really clear movement, through use of new technology, to including the consumer or end customer more fully in decisions about future products they¬†might like. The whole topic of consumer co-creation is beginning to attract players such as Starbuck, Pepsi and even Chrysler. However, according to a very interesting article in Business Week a software company called Daptiv are taking things a bit further with a new package called Greenhouse.¬†The Greenhouse package is provided free to Daptiv clients and allows product improvement suggestions from users to be logged, voted on and tracked. Users of the package can explore¬†various sections such as “plant”, “cultivate”, “germinated”,¬†“watered” and finally when the idea is¬†implemented, “harvested”. Customers can track their ideas and vote on ideas which they really like.¬†To date, well over 200 ideas have been planted and 6 have been implemented. The overall goal, says Tim Low, vice-president of marketing at Daptiv, is for Greenhouse to drive the company’s innovation process “by creating a closer, more intimate dialogue with customers.”

OK so this is a software product, so it’s easier to implement some of the suggestions than say for an FMCG company or another company with large capital investments. I would seriously challenge this sort of thinking. Why can’t you¬†change the way you engage with the consumer just as deeply for an FMCG product? After all, a large part of¬†your product offer, whatever product it is you sell, doesn’t directly relate to the product at all, remember the impact of the diamond shreddies campaign, for example. Why not start there and engage your consumers in co-creating your message?

Incidentally the Wikinomics Blog is worth a look

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Getting inside your consumer’s world

June 18th, 2008 | Category: Consumer centred,Innovation tools

I came across an interesting article this week in New Scientist, an interview with a guy who does in-depth ethnographic research at Nokia.

Jan Chipchase a Design Researcher from Nokia spends his time traveling the world to find out how Nokia phones are really being used. In some countries, the mobile phone number is actually written above the door of a person’s home to identify where they live. In other situations, people will share phones or even¬† use them as a money transfer system.

Jan uses a number of tools to get inside usage of mobile phones, including Рshadowing, capturing a day in the life of a user, home and contextual interviews, usage observation, wallet mapping, uncovering motivations and looking for differences between what people say they do and what they do. In short, they are using the full range of ethnographic tools and techniques. The insights Jan derives from this work will show up in future Nokia products.

I’ve added a link to a summary slide show¬†which helps to illustate some of the key learnings (as far as Nokia can share)¬†from this work. Clearly a very powerful and insightful set of tools for innovation. Interestingly some of the extreme users that Nokia are learning from are in¬†what¬†we somewhat condescending call the “emerging markets”. Just goes to show that in innovation you really can’t make assumptions about your customers.

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Basic technological innovation

June 18th, 2008 | Category: Why Technology Innovation?

Not all technological innovations need to be super techy and “modern”. Sometimes clever application of knowledge to a problem which provides a basic solution can be very effective indeed. Sometimes simple is best. This is certainly the sort of innovation that attracts me, as often this type of solution is more “Ideal” to use a TRIZ term. Here is an example of an innovation which I think could be slap bang onto the sweet spot.

Professor Uphoff at Cornell University has pioneered a new method of planting rice which can double the size of the harvest. He rejects traditional methods of rice planting in flooded paddy fields and focuses on giving the seeds a good chance to grow. He also rejects the latest developments in genetic engineering. His “less is more” System of Rice Intensification is now in use by over a million farmers. Professor Uphoff predicts that as many as 10 million farmers will adopt the system in the next few years, feeding millions and saving many lives. See more in this recent¬†NY Times¬†article. A very simple and effective innovation.

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