It is challenging for product designers to experience their products as end users. A chef can try their dish, a game developer can play their game, a film director can watch their film, but even in such simple examples product designers do not share the perspective of an end user.
In more complex engineering products it is easier to design a technical solution because problems are independent of consumers – making a car engine or a water pump more efficient does not depend on consumer impression. However, this is a wrong assumption – such solutions must be installed, used, maintained by people who are in this case end users.
This is why it is crucial to include end users in innovation.
With openinnovation.me it is easy to include end users in innovation: publish an opportunity focusing on a specific use of your product and invite a group of end users to participate. You can easily explain to them what kind of feedback you need and reward them with cash for their innovation suggestions.
openinnovation.me allows brands to give cash rewards to end users of their products for their innovation suggestions. Here are 5 ways brands can use openinnovation.me:
1 More competitive feedback
All brands want to get feedback, but most brands do not want to pay for it. Brands that start rewarding user feedback with cash will have an advantage, and will get the best feedback.
2 Unique innovation approach
No designer can actually imagine how it feels to use a product over and over again. Safety, ergonomy, real environment, integrations, new uses are few product aspects which are best understood by product users. Brands that collect this feedback will have more competitive products.
3 Positive way to offer customer support
Customer support is based on negative experiences because users are motivated only by frustration. With openinnovation.me users are motivated to be creative and innovative. This is a positive relationship which prevents negative experiences.
4 Accelerated training
Winning innovation proves that the user understood the product very well. Adding a winning innovation requires substantial experience and understanding of the product, and is a great way to motivate training. It can be used as part of training or as an independent motivator.
5 Two way customer relationship
Customer relationships are moving towards two-way exchanges more and more. openinnovation.me ads a new channel to the customer relationship which is beneficial for both brands and customers. It is better at building loyalty than discounts, gifts, free trials.
Goal of openinnovation.me is to help brands and users innovate easier together. This includes brands paying users (innovators) for their innovations (posts). So far only way for brands to pay users was to post an opportunity and reward innovations which respond to it. This meant that users had to focus on what brand defined in that opportunity.
Our new feature – Innovation rewards – allows brands to reward ANY innovation which tags their brand. While Opportunities feature focuses users on a specific need a brand has, Innovation rewards is much more open allowing users to surprise brands. We see this as a great step towards increasing openness and cooperation between brands and users.
If you manage an open brand on openinnovation.me, log in to your OI apps and go here and set number of rewards and amount per reward. This will reflect in your total innovation budget on your brand page.
We also launched our Start page which should make it easier to access opportunities, innovations, brands, and products.
After two and a half years of development we are happy that we have our first and successful case study – Fiam.
Fiam is an Italian innovator of semi-automation tools and was seeking ergonomy suggestions from end users. Only way to get ergonomy feedback is from people who use their tools daily in real work situations. Fiam published an opportunity, connected with end users, and quickly received innovations. Innovators were successfully paid. The whole process took less than a month and was managed by Andrea Toniolo.
This case study a great example of how openinnovation.me enables innovation on a new level. We allow brands to quickly publish opportunities and enable innovators to easily suggest innovations. And – most importantly – innovators are paid. Before us, open innovation projects were made by large companies and for high level experts. They were slow and expensive. We made open innovation faster, easier, and accessible to everyone.
This is an important step towards making open innovation part of every company in the world.
– Mirco Pegoraro, CEO of Geoplast,
– Nicola Bacchetta, CMO of Fiam,
– Michele Lovato, CEO of Lovato.
This is a great opportunity to ask questions which you can email to Andrea, ask during the live talk, or ask later via comments.
Here are some questions we will discuss:
– How did you decide to make the first product?
– What is the biggest problem you solved with your product?
– How do you discover problems? Your own design intuition, personal experience, research, feedback from customers?
– What are the most important factors in maintaining a high rate of innovation?
– What are the biggest challenges in selling innovative products?
– How relevant is the local Veneto culture for innovation?
At 10:30 CET on Thu 30 Jun 2022 you can join us at the open talk about how companies innovate, together with:
– Mirco Pegoraro, CEO of Geoplast,
– Nicola Bacchetta, CMO of Fiam,
– Michele Lovato, CEO of Lovato.
Mirco, Nicola, and Michele are managing companies that have maintained a very high rate of innovation over decades. Their innovative products are applied globally in the biggest projects. They are solving largest issues like sustainability while they consolidate it with business and social needs.
The talk will focus on how companies discover problems, how they make a decision to invest in designing a solution, the delicate relationship between the black box creativity and teamwork, how to maintain the high rate of innovation and creativity, how to marketing and protect your innovations.
Salone del Mobile is one of the biggest furniture fairs in the world. It showcases the latest furniture innovations and designs.
Innovation and design are influenced by intuition and by anonymous trend data, but should also include conversations with stakeholders. Our goal is that innovation and design become more participatory by including more external stakeholders. We believe this is better for furniture brands and customers.
For example, furniture design will benefit from feedback by people who install the furniture, or by families who have to switch to working from home.
Take a small step towards making furniture innovation and design more open – add innovations to these Salone del Mobile 2022 brands:
This is a good example of how promoting open innovation offers two benefits to brands: it attracts innovators (innovation) and it promotes the brand as innovative, open, and competitive (marketing). Promoting the opportunity on social media, advertising, press will be more beneficial for sales, brand awareness, and loyalty than most other types of content (company news, technical information, fairs, etc).
Customers are saturated by content but they are still searching for something new and different – open innovation opportunities offer this.
We congratulate Fiam and thank Il Giornale di Vicenza. We expect more brands to follow the openinnovation.me path.
Fiam is an Italian company which designs and manufactures semi-automation tools used by factory workers. Fiam is using openinnovation.me to collect innovation feedback from factory workers who use their tools. Their goal is to maintain leadership in safety and ergonomy.
Fiam has recognized that there is an innovation limitation which can be overcome only if they communicate directly with end-users. True innovation in safety and ergonomy requires high quality communication with end users.
As a solution, openinnovation.me provides Fiam with an always open channel to end users, and a reward system. Factory workers who use Fiam tools can send public or private innovation suggestions to Fiam directly at any time. There are no deadlines or any other limitations making communication between Fiam and end users always open and easy. Also Fiam can then reward all relevant innovations and has started by offering fifteen 100 EUR rewards.
Most companies, even the more organized and successful ones, fail at promoting their innovations effectively. For example, one of the top engineering companies promoted a hydrogen car innovation, but they made it difficult for the audience and press to notice and understand it: they announced the innovation on Twitter but not on their website news, the press release was a PDF and not a page, PDF used a different title and terminology probably because different team worked on it…
Innovation includes promotion and adopting by customers, otherwise it is only an invention which no one uses. And promotion today consists of many technical details which are very easy to learn but often ignored. Failing at these details lowers the rate of innovations.
These are our tips for effectively promoting innovation:
Innovation promotion should be consistent across all channels
All the content – long, short, social texts, images, audio, and video files – should be made or at least supervised by the same team to make sure all terminology, titles, and visuals deliver the same message.
Publish the content at the same time on all channels
Make a list of all channels – home page, news, blog, newsletters, social, webinars – and publish the content on all of them on the same day. Include all languages and all local channels. Reducing languages and channels lowers the perceived importance of the innovation.
Make it easy to share
Do not rely only on platforms which are hard to share from (for example, Youtube is better for video sharing than Vimeo). Make sure all website pages have sharing preview images. All images should be downloadable. Avoid using PDFs. Try sharing your yourself and you will see if it is easy or not. And finally make a short suggestion to the audience to share – they often forget.
To get teleports, lets first promote innovation effectively using above basics.
Recession starts when some companies discover the limit of how much they can push up the pricing of their products and stocks using press and advertising. As the prices up sales start reducing and revenues drop. This shows up negatively on reports, and investors, press, and consumers start panicking. This negatively affects the whole economy.
One way to recognize recession is when unrelated assets behave the same. For example: Ethereum, Tesla stock, Microsoft stock, and Apple stock are all dropping. It is impossible that all four had a problem at the same moment and therefore their drop is motivated by the general sentiment.
In such a situation it is important to recognize which assets can regain and increase value after the recession. These assets are a good investment opportunity during recession. Rate of innovation is one of the best predictors of this opportunity.
Assets of companies and projects that have continuously launched new products offering new solutions, adopted and created new technologies, and fully focused on their customers will most likely rebound and grow after the recession. Companies that did not communicate their innovation well, did not focus on customer but only on internal innovation, did not adopt new technologies, will most likely be severely damaged by the recession and might not rebound.
Innovations are always valuable because they truly change the world.
Innovators are openinnovation.me users who can freely register, add innovations, and win opportunity awards. Anyone can be an innovator including product end-users, brand customers, and employees. Innovators can benefit from using openinnovation.me in various ways:
Win cash rewards as an end-user or a customer
Adding innovations to opportunities makes innovators eligible to cash rewards. openinnovation.me is more focused on distributing many smaller cash rewards (under 1,000 EUR) so possibility of winning is high. Any end-user and customer can apply, and it is always a plus if you are an expert product user or you know the problems a product can solve.
Win cash rewards as an employee
openinnovation.me is also available only to employees of a brand using openinnovation.me. Employees can participate in internal opportunities for which they can win cash rewards. Winning rewards can be considered a bonus on top of their salary, and there is usually less competition for internal opportunities.
Gaining visibility as an innovator
Innovators are usually experts who had a hard time to be visible on other platforms and systems. openinnovation.me can be a platform for them to demonstrate their expertise and build authority on specific topics. While most other platforms force users to compete with generic content, openinnovation.me is a niche platform filtering anything that is not focused on innovation. This is a big plus for experts.
Meeting other innovators
While at the moment we do not allow connections between innovators (we will later), it is still possible to find and get in touch with other innovators by browsing innovations and clicking on innovation authors. Most openinnovation.me innovators should be passionate about innovation so it should be easy to find a match.
Learning about innovation
Being up to date with latest innovations in various industries, categories, localities is very easy with openinnovation.me. Tags are particularly good for this. Exploring unfamiliar tags can be fun and educational. Just open the innovations side bar and choose tags from the pulldown.
In theory innovation lifecycle consists of steps similar to these (percentage is global adoption):
1) 0 % – invention, something new was made,
2) 0-1 % – small group of early adopters, usually local,
3) 1-3 % – few new groups and localities have been added,
4) 3-5 % – accelerated growth, competitors copy the innovation and add many new localities,
5) 30-90 % – growth slows down as it reaches cultural and other blocks,
6) 90-100 % – innovation is global and accepted by everyone who can use it.
Very few innovations reach step 6 even after decades. For example, even after enormous marketing efforts 58 % of world population has access to internet, 83 % are smart phones users, and 59 % are fully vaccinated against Coronavirus.
Some companies misunderstand that innovation ends at step 3. This kind of thinking limits design, investment, growth, and – most importantly – access to innovation for many around the world. Companies should always create innovations for global adoption. After all local clients adopted it, companies should continue to invest in marketing to customers in other localities and never stop expanding.
Companies should not block the spread of their innovation by stopping to invest. If they do stop, most likely their competitors will take over their market.
Andrea will explain how openinnovation.me accelerates company innovation by motivating customers to participate. The CSR conference will include speakers from Marzotto, Diesel, and Verona University. More about Il Salone della CSR.
Food is one product which got worse over time – worse for those who consume it and worse for the environment. It is one of the top industries which needs to accelerate innovation towards healthier and sustainable alternatives. Here are our top food picks from openinnovation.me…
Plant-based meat will be featured in Delta Airlines menus
Cultivated salmon can be healthier for consumption due to lack of microplastics and mercury
Walmart invests in vertical farming startup Plenty to provide California customers with locally grown plant food
Beef linked to deforestation is removed from UK supermarkets
The Elmar cutting board is hidden in the drawer of the kitchen. This solution reduces the space while maintaining stability.The Elmar philosophy to optimize space is applied in all convertible tables
Homes are not innovated often because of the high costs, but they are a crucial global innovation factor. Everyone needs one and they offer thousands of innovation opportunities. Homes also affect global economies and sustainability. Below is a list of our favorite home innovations currently available, with a focus on openinnovation.me open brands…
100 3D printed houses to be built in Austin, Texas
Wing Island is an innovative kitchen island because in only 115cm it encloses a flexible cooking area and a back panel that can be transformed into a table to optimize spaces
Lineabeta – Careto “Careto” is a small cart for bathroom totaly made with sustainable materials: aluminium, bamboo, …
T-FAST allows the installation of a domestic hot water recirculation pump kit. This allows comfort and lowers energy consumption and water usage
Drainroof is a modular panel for green roofs that has a triple function: protecting the waterproofing membrane, retaining rainwater to prevent runoff, and supporting the growth of plants
With the K&B collection for every square meter of carpet we produce, we remove 100 PET bottles from the seas, fields and roads
Ecocapsule fully off-grid, smart, self-sustainable micro-house, powered only by solar and wind energy. It allows you to stay in remote places out of reach of urban networks on sale for 79,900 EUR
Energy is a hot trend now. Energy prices are surging globally and the adoption of clean energy is being prioritized. Bellow is a selection of openinnovation.me energy innovations, brands, products, and tags.
Quaise aims to digg 20 km deep to provide geothermal energy
Fusion sustained for 5 seconds is a sign it can be sustained and controlled as an energy source much longer
Lovato installed 85 MACUK S-SR to lower energy consumption of the residential project in 9 Sutton Court Road Residential in London. Building was designed by Twelve Architects architects
TerraPower Natrium nuclear reactor to be demonstrated in Wyoming, USA
Completa innovative green roof trays act as a thermal barrier, saving up to 35 % energy for air conditioning and heating
Our openinnovation.me platform and services are dedicated to the promotion of innovation. We want to help everyone, especially smaller companies, to accelerate innovation and deliver more value to customers. We also want that companies listen more to customers, making customers active participants instead of passive consumers.
Due to the current political turmoil, political worldwide content has increased and pushed back innovation content. This is not good, and – to reduce it – we will double our efforts to promote innovation, and connect companies and innovators. No matter what happens in the political world, innovation is still the driving force behind most of the positive changes in our lives. That must never be forgotten. This is what we believe in.
Saying that, we hope that the conflicts resolve as fast as possible with least pain for citizens on all sides.
How many customers can understand which foods are healthy, which clothing is luxurious, which car is innovative, which house is sustainable, which company is open to their feedback?
Customers can easily understand if products are cheaper or more expensive because everyone knows arithmetic. But when it comes to more complex soft values such as health, luxury, innovation, sustainability, openness, they experience difficulty and can make wrong purchasing choices.
Main causes are fierce competition which motivates brands to fake these values, and lack of customer education. Most customers think only vegetables are healthy, luxury is always expensive, innovation is a change in product size, and openness is a fast reply from brand’s social media account. Customers have difficulty making an informed choice and end up paying for poorer quality.
To compete with complex soft values first educate your team and then invest in customer education. Customer education will increase customer loyalty and reduce competitors. Initial investment is minimal – short videos and texts will do the job.
Theory is great but what should companies actually do? Here is a list of open innovation and innovation content projects to do – making your open innovation mix.
Write down the innovation strategy including customer, partner, and internal feedback.
Suggested frequency: two per year.
Publish innovation opportunities to customers, partners, and internally. These can be simple online pages, documents, presentations.
Suggested frequency: few per year.
Make a presentation about your skills or ideas and talk to companies and individuals who you think might be interested in working with you on them.
Suggested frequency: one per month.
Remind your customers, partners, and internal teams how innovative your company is, how you innovate, what your plans us, how they can innovate with your company.
Suggested frequency: every quarter.
Innovation content projects
Publish quick and easy explanations of your innovations, products, and projects on your innovation channel.
Suggested frequency: few per week.
Publish 10 – 60 sec videos which explain your innovations on all major social media.
Suggested frequency: one per week.
These videos explain your main innovations, products, and projects. They are used for years ahead.
Suggested frequency: one every two months.
Renders and infographics
These are images which visually explain your innovations, products, and projects. They are used for years ahead.
Suggested frequency: one per month.
Make dedicated landing pages which explain your innovation and call customers and partners to participate in it.
Suggested frequency: you should have at least one innovation landing page.
Small campaigns include articles, newsletter, digital advertising, and social media, and are great way to communicate more important innovation information.
Suggested frequency: one per week.
Big campaigns include press, events, interviews, and all other digital and non-digital channels. They are used for product launches and similar big events.
Suggested frequency: two per year.
Open events can be digital or non-digital. They are an opportunity to answer questions from the public and are important in building an open rapport with customers and partners. They can also be internal.
Suggested frequency: one per month.
Here are some alternative definitions of popular terms used every day in management. Maybe they can give you a different point of view.
Real purpose of a company
A way to create a monopoly
A way to destroy a monopoly
Company which does not need to innovate
Company which increases costs of basic operations for everyone else
Company which works to reduce innovation by other companies
Highest ROI activity a company can do
A way for smaller companies to grow rapidly
A way to make a monopoly innovative
A way to shorten the existence of a monopoly
Most important brand equity metric
An innovation created to increase the soft (imaginary) value of companies and products
A way to make empty promises to customers (not always)
A company change process which includes steps: outsider, signaling participant, real participant, leader
A way to crash the economy
Consolidation of conflicts between innovation and brand
Being powerful and courageous enough to listen to others
The cheapest and the most efficient market research
A way to distract, bankrupt, and destroy the monopoly challengers
Open innovation is research & development adapted to current culture and technology. Decades ago innovation was reduced to closed research & development. There was much less competition and globalization so closed research & development was low risk.
Today with 3 biggest change forces – digitalization, globalization, sustainability – closed research & development is a high risk. Digitalization and sustainability require skills which are usually not present in companies, and globalization increases competition and diversity of non-local markets.
Open innovation is the most efficient way to manage this complexity and attract various experts from different markets.
But open innovation does not happen by itself. In order to get experts to contribute to company innovation they need to perceive the company as innovative and understand its innovations. To achieve this company needs to publish innovation content. Without innovation content experts will not know how to contribute, especially in the case of SMBs which ca be very niche and less visible.
Innovation today is mostly open innovation and it depends on innovation content especially for the majority of companies which are not well known global brands. If companies do not produce innovation content and do not openly innovate, they will rely only on entertainment & sales content. This type of content can boost short term stats but it does not help the long term growth.
Conclusion is that there is no innovation without innovation content. Motivating people outside the company to do something for the company always requires a lot of promotion and education.
Companies often neglect to promote their innovations – they either do not mention their innovations at all or explain them poorly. Here are 3 steps every company should do to promote their innovation:
Use the word “innovation”
Many companies do not refer to themselves as innovative even though they are. Maybe because “innovation” sometimes seems like an empty buzzword. But I still advice using it as a first step. Once it is used it forces you to explain how you are innovative which is not an empty buzzword.
Practice explaining your innovations
Practice making copy, images, renders, infographics, short and long videos, live events, landing pages which explain your innovations. When you start explaining your innovations is hard, but your confidence and efficiency will grow quickly with practice. Main goal of explaining innovations is to synthesize the complexity and make it easy for customers to gain initial motivation. Once they are motivated they will continue to expand their understanding of your innovations on their own.
Make a separate channel for your innovation content
In this channel publish only innovation explanations for your products, services, projects. Do not add any other content here. On openinnovation.me we offer this feature, but you can also make a separate Twitter account, Facebook page, newsletter. Promote it on all other channels. It will have a smaller audience and less engagements but it will have a much higher lead quality.
Metaverse represents virtual and augmented reality technologies which have been in development for a while. Metaverse is a main components of web 3.0 and will become a standard communication channel.
With web 1.0 companies adopted email, websites, forums. This was a shock to their cultures and budgets. After almost 3 decades some companies are still struggling to adopt web 1.0. With web 2.0 companies changed and invested even more to adopt social media, mobile, AI. Web 2.0 created a bigger barrier between adopters and others. A lot of stagnation was caused by lack of adoption of web 2.0, while adopters grew exponentially. Web 3.0 will be much harder and more expensive to adopt, and will create a bigger gap between adopters and non-adopters.
Main driver of web 3.0 divide will be the metaverse. Metaverse requires substantial company changes and investment while creating an enormous difference in customer experience. Companies that adopt metaverse will be way ahead in the eyes of the customers. Metaverse will include virtual and augmented reality design, engineering, training, meetings, tools, services, sales, shopping, experiences.
Web 1.0 used a hard to carry desktop screen. Web 2.0 used a mobile screen we could easily carry everywhere. Web 3.0 is a screenless information layer over what we see (augmented reality) or in a completely new virtual reality.
Changing processes, training staff, and investing in metaverse will not be possible for majority of SMBs and startups. There will be plenty of service providers offering easy solutions, but companies that succeed will be the ones which use expensive, custom, unique solutions, and not the ones which use cheaper, easy, premade solutions. Web 3.0 and metaverse will be the most destructive forces giving an enormous boost to adopters. They will create a communication layer which further makes product innovation less relevant, making all the innovative SMBs and startups less independent.
Our advice is to prepare now. Spreading the changes and investment over longer time is a better option.
Web is the most dominant media today. TV, radio, paper, and other old media have been loosing relevance for decades. Web has basically became the main way all cultures globally exchange value. Not only that it delivers information but also is integral in production and trade. Web versions include upgrades of main web technologies and culture, and are driven by end user adoption.
So far there have been two web upgrades:
Web 1.0 was the first web which introduced websites, domain names, email, e-commerce, blogging, forums, username & password login. Example brands are Amazon, eBay.
Web 2.0 was the first upgrade which introduced social media, AI, mobile, user generated content, online software (SaaS). Example brands are Google, Facebook (now Meta).
First two web versions had a huge impact on the global economy, culture, and politics which affected every company and individual. Web 2.0 had a greater impact than web 1.0, and web 3.0 will be even more powerful. Web 3.0 is happening right now. It is a culmination of many trends such as blockchain, AI, VR, Coronavirus crisis, and is rapidly accelerating.
In future articles I will be writing more about specific changes, but at this point, at the start of the 2022, I wanted to emphasize that web 3.0 is here and companies need to work even harder than before to adopt it to remain competitive. Not all companies need to change their products but all companies must adapt their marketing and communication on all levels.
There are three attitudes a person can have towards an innovation: support, don’t care, block. Same person can be supportive of one innovation, while blocking another.
But most people are not aware of their attitude and role in innovation, and act as simple consumers, not as innovators. They do not perceive their importance in innovation and therefore are not fully empowered.
One of our goals at openinnovation.me is that everyone has a clear understanding of their role in innovation and is fully empowered. That they know that they are important and can impact innovation much more than just mere consumers – that they are innovators.
Ever since I started using openinnovation.me I became passionate about some innovations and lost interest in others. Time will tell if my choices are correct ones, but the more important change is that I started evaluating brands and products as vehicles for innovation. This is a big change from my previous views as a basic consumer.
My suggestion is to treat our own innovation support, passivity, and blocking, as very important, because each one of us has the power to buy, share, or ignore an innovation. And this power should not be taken likely.
Without updating innovation processes companies can not create competitive innovation. Here are the biggest innovation trends your company should apply:
Decentralization is a management approach which includes as many decision makers as possible. Being centralized is a risk. Everything proves that single person or small teams can hit the jackpot sometimes but not consistently in the long run. Decentralize innovation from a single person or a closed team by including more teams, customers, partners.
Unless your company has strict security protocols you should be using the collective power of the “crowd” – your customers, partners, everyone. Crowdsourcing is not decentralization because it does not share decision making but it collects information and knowledge from everyone it can.
Decentralization and crowdsourcing will not be very effective if the company is not transparent and open, if it does not share more about itself and its goals. People who need to be included in decentralization and crowdsourcing are sensitive to company transparency. The more open the company is, the better.
Data & AI
Supporting above trends with data & AI can be very powerful. Sharing data and AI reports with customers can educate and empower them, and position your company as more open. However, using data & AI without above management and cultural changes will only entrench the outdated innovation methods and block the change.
We added single product pages which allow easier way to learn and share product information. Our goal is to inform users on how innovative single products are. This is our first step and we will keep expanding on a single product information.
We are now listing brands and products by how many innovations and important rates they have. Brands and products shown on top the brand and product list pages have the most innovations and important rates which means that they are most likely considered the most innovative. Innovations can be added both by brands and users, but most likely they will be dominantly added by users. This feature will quickly inform users which brand and product are considered innovative by the general public.
These changes are perfectly aligned with our mission to increase innovation by connecting brands and users. This includes allowing users to have a voice in what is innovative, and to clearly inform them.
Before the 80s marketing was focused on the big four – science, engineering, innovation, and design because this was the best way to compete. Unfortunately, in the 80s companies and investors realized they can make lower quality products while using mass media advertising to sell them. The age of marriage between superficial advertising and financialization started reaching its peak in 2010s. Science, engineering, innovation, design remained as empty buzzwords. Customers started thinking science is a high school class, engineering is something developing countries needed, innovation is a new Coca Cola taste, and design is something that has reached its peak centuries ago. The only thing that changed through extreme competition was the advertising and financial products.
An individual is not someone who changes but a messenger of change that is coming. When Elon Musk became the richest individual in the world he delivered this message: science, innovation, engineering, and design are relevant again. Elon changed cultural values that dominated most of the global society for half a century. He shifted our appreciation from Warren Buffet – who makes money with cheap consumer goods and financial services, to himself – who makes electric cars, rockets, and solar panels. This change if profound.
Science, engineering, innovation, and design can not work unless the global culture does not accept them as they should be accepted. Us humans are very flexible and we adopt different values every few decades. We are easy to change. Mass media – press, radio, television, and now internet and social media – are tools used to change our values. Before there were big differences in values between geographic regions, but today these differences are minimal. We are all changing in the same direction which is a great opportunity and a big risk.
The message that Elon Musk brings is that we are changing towards science, engineering, innovation, and design, away from cheap, superficial, financialized products which pollute. This is good news. Participate in this change on openinnovation.me.
As a founder of openinnovation.me I was the first user or, as we say, innovator. I registered on 18 September 2020 and in 14 months I added 141 innovations and rated 435 innovations as important. Every time I started using a new publishing platform or social media I was slow, and openinnovation.me was not different. I was a bit blocked about what to write, but eventually I accelerated and discovered my style and interests. Here are my main impressions:
I learned more about things that interest me
Even after working in some domains for decades I was still surprised by innovations others posted. I found this little reality check very useful.
I discovered new interests
I had no idea that I would enjoy biotech, health, and pharma as much. I did not post so much about it but I found myself constantly interested. I only need to find a way to quickly find innovations and brands. I only wish we already had a biotech, health, and pharma innovators and brands that posted often so I can learn more.
I started to evaluate media and products as innovation
Before I could be distracted much easier and I was engaging news and media on a more reactionary basis. I still like fun and engaging content but I am much more objective in evaluating news, entertainment, and products. I could say that my world view shifted a bit towards being more objective.
I gained more confidence in my knowledge and authority in my work
Adding 141 and rating 435 innovations means I read almost 300 of innovations by other people. This is less than one innovation in 5 mins a day. Although I spend much more time on other social media (Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, Youtube, Facebook) time spent on openinnovation.me was much more effective in informing and teaching me. As all these minutes added over months I felt better and better about the experience and was more motivated to add and read. openinnovation.me was a positive experience for me.
Since the arrival of internet, brands have focused on making content cool and neglecting to promote innovation. Cool content had a bigger chance of becoming viral and would get much more superficial statistics like views and likes. In the mean time content which explains innovation was underestimated and explaining innovation became a lost art.
Today innovation is becoming more competitive than ever and brands that explain it well win. Here are 3 questions each innovation text should try to answer:
1) Are we promoting a product? If not then how is the innovation delivered to the end user? Is this a project, a process, experience?
2) Who is the end user? Forget the retailers, partners, distributors, but understand and focus on the end user.
3) How is this improving the experience of the final user? What is new and better compared to alternatives?
The more honest and clear the answers are, the more powerful the text will be.
Today a typical value chain has many layers between products designers and customers who use the products. These are distributors, retailers, marketers, sales, and many other managers. This results in product designers who design safety products but never or rarely speak to people who actually need to be safe, food designers who make food perfect for supermarkets but unhealthy for consumers, entertainment companies which bet their investments on few people instead of just talking to the audience.
Managers know this problem but were not able to solve it for decades. There were many attempts such as complaint boxes, focus groups, market research methods, polls, and social media and big data. But if we ask a product designer how much contact they had with a customer they will say none or too little.
This is a substantial business risk. Access to customers is a valuable resource and a competitive advantage. Customers can not talk to many companies at once, their attention is limited, and the first company that starts a conversation with them will have a substantial advantage.
Customer conversation is openness – ability of a company to engage customers and stakeholders in an open conversation. Purpose of openness is always to innovate because, simply, this is what customers and stakeholders want. Innovation is the main goal of the company and the main value customers want – they want new things that are better than old things.
openinnovation.me and our services are focused on developing customer conversation as a strategic resource making our clients more competitive. To start a conversation with your customers contact Andrea Toniolo at email@example.com.
In openinnovation.me we have decided to use only tags to connect innovations, brands, products, and opportunities. We removed the categories and countries. Previously added categories and countries are now added as tags.
I have been a huge fan of tags as a way to organize content ever since WordPress added them in 2000s. Tags later gained much more popularity as social media hashtags, especially on Instagram and Twitter, allowing tagging of billions of posts. I am happy that now you can focus only on tags to add and browse innovations, brands, products, and opportunities on openinnovation.me. Using only tags is simpler and more straightforward.
I do recognize that the search tag pulldown is not a good solution. Soon we will replace it with a better one.
One way you can view tags is as roadmaps for innovation. For example, a tag for 3D house printing will show all ideas, related trends, problems, events, brands, products, opportunities for this technology in a timeline.
When adding tags feel free to use multiple words divided by space and do not use “#” symbol. Since we have a separate input field for tags, there is no need to apply these social media tagging rules. openinnovation.me tag can be “john smith” while social media tag must be #johnsmith.
PS We also added French and German languages. You can change your language by going to your profile and clicking the “edit” button.
As a team we started in the summer of 2011. In one way or the other we have always focused on innovation. We helped customers, users, clients, and partners to adopt, create, market, and sell innovation. From the start our method was pragmatic as much as possible – innovation is about convincing people to buy, not about prototypes in the garage.
Since then we helped individuals, investors, microbusinesses, small businesses, medium businesses, large and multinational companies, and various organizations to innovate and spread innovation in Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.
We helped clients define winning values, we made complex technologies more understandable, we trained sales in how to focus on and explain innovation, we designed products, we organized product launches, we built, trained, and managed engineering teams, and more.
We worked with wine and gelato brands, helped many companies improve their and sustainability of their customers, designed and developed artificial intelligence, started our own and helped other start tech startups, managed innovation funding, helped successful products transition from one market to other, improved health of tens of thousands, and the list can go on.
Our work today on openinnovation.me and innovation consulting is a culmination of all our experience and knowledge. We are here to help clients and their customers solve problems we saw repeat over and over again – problems which when solved will improve lives for everyone.
And we are even more excited about the next several decades. Thank you for your support.
In openinnovation.me there are two types of users: innovators, anyone who can easily register, and brands, companies that purchase access to innovation features. These features, accessible only to brands, enable following activities:
A brand page which features all products, innovations, contacts, and other information about the brand. It allows anyone to contact the brand, promote it, and buy products. Benefit for brands is that they are promoting themselves and their products as innovative. It is important for them to have one place which explains all of their innovations so customers can easily learn and use it.
Brands can publish innovation posts publicly on their profiles and share them on other social media. This way they will continuously attract, stay in touch, and educate the audience. This is the same process as with other social media but focused only on innovation.
Brands can organize selected innovators – openinnovation.me users or anyone who they invite via email – into innovation groups, and share products and opportunities only with them. This allows them to easily collect feedback from the group members, and work with them closely and continuously with them on design and innovation.
Opportunities are projects which offer rewards to innovators. They can be competitions, open calls, partnership and job offers – an opportunity for another company or an innovator to cooperate with the brand. They are a great tool for brand awareness, partnership, recruitment, and are our alternative to advertising.
Above features create new ways of communication for brands to improve their innovation, learn more about the customers, enrich customer relationships, and build brand awareness. They offer a refreshing alternative to established channels such as newsletters and social media.
We consider marketing and sales an important part of innovation. If products and services are not placed on the market and are not sold, then there is no innovation. With digitalization the quantity, quality, and relevance of live events has increased drastically. All social media feature live events and there are numerous platforms for webinars and online meetings. We recognize that these events are an important part of innovation and we want to support them.
From today when adding an innovation on openinnovation.me you will also be offered a new innovation type: Event. You can promote your or any innovation related events using this innovation type. Add the event link in the “Insert link or Youtube video” field or in the “rich text long description”. You can promote future events or publish news on past events.
We hope that this improvement further accelerates innovation rate, reach, sharing, and education.
Business cases are new process or projects in a company. At openinnovation.me we are always working with clients and partners on creating new business cases which were not previously possible. Here are some examples:
Collecting feedback from end users of your products
This seems simple but in most cases getting feedback from final users of products is blocked by levels of management and retailers. Having a direct line to users is highly valuable.
Offering feedback to suppliers
This is the reverse version of collecting feedback from end users. Allowing direct feedback flow from your team to the supplier will be beneficial for your company and theirs. Although this innovation cooperation is always present, it is not systematic and neglected.
Discovering new uses of products
WD-40 is a product with 2000 uses with new ones being added constantly. New uses of products extend the product life and increase its competitiveness. Best way to discover them is by listening to customers.
Sharing new uses of products with clients
Once new uses are discovered and approved it is important to share them with all the other customers and partners efficiently therefore increasing the value of product for them. This is a form of innovation content which can often be obscured on non-innovation channels, and therefore requires its own channel.
Adding external (more open) innovators
Companies eventually switch from making to buy innovation and innovators. Instead of hiring staff and hoping that they come up with something new, companies look for someone who already created something new and partner with them. This is referred to as research when brands are too weak to attract, and marketing when brands are strong and attract external innovators.
Engaging innovative teams at early stages of innovation (closer to idea stage)
This is an improvement to adding external innovators. The sooner the innovators are found or attracted the easier and cheaper it is to integrate their innovation. The later they are attracted the price of their innovation is higher, and it is harder to integrate. Goal is to find a sweet spot after they lose interest for full time employment and before their projects gain traction.
If you are interested in developing new business cases in your company, email Andrea Toniolo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There has never been so many bad products which need replacement: gasoline cars, virgin plastics, soft drinks, processed food. Our children will live in a very different world. Very soon these products will have to be replaced. Question is when and by whom, and how will this affect your company. As you are reading this trillions of EUR are invested in replacing them, and millions of people are working on it.
Selling is a necessary step of innovation. If products are not sold, innovation does not happen. But selling is not the best way to grow. Best way to grow is by co-innovating with other companies, preferably bigger ones with access to markets your company can not access. Finding innovation partners is the first step of innovation.
Many established companies are just renting their marketing & sales to innovators because today innovation is not something which can be easily managed. The best strategy is simply to be as open as possible and attract the best innovators and offer them marketing & sales power.
There is an enormous amount of innovation that is not delivering value to customers but only to shareholders. For example, how to make employees more happy at jobs which are by default not happy jobs, or how to sell the same products over and over again without innovating it. Paradoxically choosing shareholders over customers creates loss for both shareholders and customers, and still managers chose it.
Our generations have the least belief that future will be different because brands have marketed to us when we were kids, convincing us we will always drinks Coca Cola, eat at McDonalds, drive gasoline cars, wear the same clothes. All previous generations saw dramatic changes in the world around them and actively participated in those changes. Our generations are passive consumers who see the future as a slightly polished up present.
Adding innovations is not easy. We feel under pressure when we write an innovation idea down and share it with others. Maybe it is too technical? Maybe it is not technical enough? Maybe it is ridiculous? Maybe everyone knows this already? Maybe someone will steal my idea? I have been writing for most of my life and I still avoid sharing most of the innovation ideas I have.
One thing helps me move forward – I should simply ask for what I really want to have. And if I want it, everyone else probably wants it, because we are not that different.
This kind of maybe childish simplicity is exactly how great innovation starts, and everyone should try it – even the leaders of biggest innovation teams. Sometimes the biggest challenge in innovation is to maintain this level of clarity.
Sci-fi, fiction, religion, art, science, engineering, design are all reflections of what we crave. If we are able to listen and formalize them, without worrying too much about the politics, technologies, processes, rules, then we will move forward quickly.
No matter what you do, just think of what you would want and write it down as an innovation. It will never be wrong. Add an innovation now.
Companies have a hard time collecting end user feedback. They can conduct interviews or use social media, but this kind of feedback is not consistent, hard to document and share, and often unfocused.
openinnovation.me supports three levels of end user feedback: internally from team members, with focus groups from selected users, and publicly from everyone. Additionally an opportunity can be created to focus the feedback on a specific product, feature, or goal, and offers awards.
Whatever the channel a company chooses, it is also important to promote the feedback opportunity to the end users. This can be done with public campaigns or private invitations. The success always depends on the level of openness and company brand awareness.
On openinnovation.me is end users can communicate whenever they want, on whatever they want, and however they want. An easy open relationship is created which is more productive than limited surveys, interviews, and other methods.
Recently we launched openinnovation.me. It is currently available as a desktop and mobile website, and an Android app, with iOS app coming soon.
openinnovation.me allows anyone to view, rate, add, and share innovations. Innovations are posts – just like tweets or Linkedin posts – which focus only on innovation. They can be categorized as your own idea, innovative product or project, problem or a trend. An innovation can simply be a link to an article or a YouTube video and it only takes a minute to add.
But why should you post innovations?
1) It makes you think more about innovation,
2) You are showing others how much you actually know,
3) You can connect to people who care about the same innovations as you.
I suggest that you post one or more innovations per week, and spend few minutes per day browsing openinnovation.me.
It is a small investment compared to the time we spend on social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, which do not offer such specific benefits.
This is the LITE version which means it has all the mobile website functionality but no added app features such as notifications. iOS openinnovation.me LITE app will be launched soon as well, and later on we will launch the native apps with full app features.
Our goal is always to connect brands to innovators so better products and experiences are created. The social media part of openinnovation.me is designed to promote brands and attract innovators to them. Innovators can be experts, customers, engineers, partners, companies, universities – any individual or group which has the know-how to help a company innovate. Making mobile apps helps this goal making openinnovation.me more accessible to everyone.
You get what you like. By interacting with online content you are telling companies what you want, and companies will make it. Digital media, especially social media, is based on this principle.
The problem is that there is so much easy-to-like entertainment content online, that other types of content stand little chance. We all need more innovation – better medicine, better transport, healthier lifestyles, solutions to climate crisis, etc. But we are given mostly likable entertainment, and the more we like it the more we get it. This trend has been accelerating for the past decade.
There are many companies that improve our lives but are not able to compete with entertainment, and they do not grow. Investors, customers, talent gravitate towards entertaining and away from innovative not-entertaining companies. Even worse is that managers decide that it is better to invest in entertainment than in innovation.
To solve this companies should invest more in innovation content which is a necessary element of innovation. And we should all interact with it more. On openinnovation.me instead of a like we use the important button. Using it you are telling companies to innovate more.
Innovation washing is a term for companies which are not innovative but promote themselves as such, just like green washing.
Only real innovation is open innovation – it includes many stakeholders in the process and is for many stakeholders. A lot of what is called innovation is not made for the majority of the stakeholders and is not real innovation. Figuring out a way to have less employees without adding value to customers is not an innovation. Changing the lives of millions of customers for better is an innovation.
Companies that improve their internal efficiency without providing value to customers are usually the biggest innovation washers. They promote their brands as innovative, use the word innovation excessively, but their products are stagnating. In some cases, like with BMW, VW, and Daimler, they block innovation.
If we want improvement it is important to tell the difference between real innovation and innovation washing. Companies that really innovate offer products to customers which make a real and obvious difference.
When adding an innovation to openinnovation.me you are required to choose which type your innovation is. Here is a quick explanation of the innovation types:
This is your idea what you think should be done, made, improved. Do not worry if someone else might have the same idea – this is normal, different people can have the same idea.
Example: smart phone controls for cars.
This is an update about an innovative product. It is best to focus on a single benefit of a product, like innovative breaks in a new car model. Avoid promoting a whole product unless it is a product launch.
Example: energy saving benefits of the new fridge.
Describe an innovation used in a project. You can tag a product used in the project. Just like with a product, try to focus on a single innovative benefit of the project, instead of the whole project.
Example: residential house project used latest solar panels.
Trends are changes shared by many brands and markets. Easiest way to share trends is with news related to a trend or reports on latest projects and products which define the trend.
Example: report on 3D printed houses in California.
Describing an idea is not easy, but describing a problem is – just follow your frustration. However, avoid being critical and focus on what can be improved with innovation. Problem description is not a complaint.
Example: lack of wind farms in Italy.
For years top car manufacturers VW, BMW, and Daimler worked together to reduce innovation, and offered less value to customers and damaged the environment. On 8 July 2021 the European Commission fined VW and BMW a total of 875 billion EUR. Daimler was protected from the penalty as a whistleblower. This anti-innovation scandal came just after the Exxon scandal.
Theoretically it was always clear that the largest companies prefer to maintain status quo and fight against innovation. Practically it is only recently that these strategies are exposed and criticized. This new fight against anti-innovation is motivated by digitalization which increases transparency and sustainability which pressures all companies to change.
Innovation is an essential element of civilization and it is immoral to restrict access to it. Restricting innovation is equal to restricting water and shelter. I really do hope that people at VW, BMW, Daimler, and Exxon, understand the greater value of innovation and will now work to promote it. Otherwise, much more than their companies will be damaged. If big companies which control majority of global markets restrict change, we will not go very far.
Once a company starts making innovation content, it should have a channel dedicated to it. Here is why:
Some customers only want innovation content
They do not want to go through blogs, Instagram images, TikTok videos, thousands of Tweets, random news, to get what they want. It should be easy for them to access information about your innovation and products.
All customers want diverse content
No one likes to eat the same food or wear the same clothes every day. Customers need a place where they can easily experience a different side of the company – the innovation side. This will enrich their experience and understanding of the company, and improve loyalty.
Adding one more channel is easy
Companies already use many content channels such as newsletters, websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, fairs & events, TV, direct marketing, etc. There can be hundreds of them each with different message defined by the channel technology and audience. Adding a new channel is a standard procedure.
Innovation channel ROI is great
Innovation channel, especially if digital, costs much less than most channels because communicating innovation is easier. Also companies can move their audience from other channels to it easily without investing much in advertising.
Innovation content is content which promotes a tangible positive change. While everyone will agree that a flying car is an innovation because everyone would want one, many innovations are not accepted by the majority because they are made for few customers. Innovations should be accepted as their customers see them, not how they appear to the general public.
Innovation content are highly competitive – the more companies produce it the faster they will grow. At least a quarter of content should be dedicated to innovation.
In the below video IBM is promoting the idea of their Hybrid cloud. Customers are CIOs who manage multiple clouds. The short video is not enough for technicalities but the promise of the innovation and benefit is clear and obvious.
Another example is Nino Shurter demonstrating the new Scott Ransom e-bike. Nino mentions key numbers which show innovative progress but the main innovation is the concept of a downhill e-bike ridden by a cross-country rider in a very dynamic way. This is a big change for mountain bikers and venue owners.
On the other hand next Coca Cola video which extensively uses the word innovation and other buzzwords does not actually promise any tangible change and therefore is not innovation content.
Unfortunately, the more the word innovation is used in content, the less it actually is innovation content. Which makes me wonder about this article :)
Sales people represent their brands and they are brands themselves. It is expected of them to publish content which defines them as experts and attracts leads. Social media, personal blogs, personal newsletters are straightforward tools for sales people to share the content, but it is often not clear which content to share.
Wrong content can get a lot of reactions but will position the brand in the wrong way. Social media metrics like visits and engagements do not guarantee sales or even brand recognition. For growth content should focus on the most competitive company activity – innovation. Sales people should clearly promote innovation which grows revenue and long term brand loyalty.
Here are few tips on how sales people should promote innovation on social media:
Do not be shy
Sales people must understand and believe in their company innovation. Belief in innovation and passion to share it are not arrogance, but confidence.
Give it space
At least a quarter of content should be dedicated to innovation, products, features, and values they deliver. The remaining content can be entertaining, destressing, news, support for others, etc.
Use the correct words
Use the words innovation, research, design, improvement, value. Also use technical terms related to the innovation, product, and industry.
Clearly state that this is an innovation by your company. Examples: “our innovation”, “our design”, “we designed it”. Without clarity that your company or you did this, the ownership will not be clear.
Innovation is one of the most important aspects of society. It improves health, well being, safety, and comfort for everyone. Innovation is a result of collaboration between many stakeholders, but companies are the ones that make innovation available globally as a practical product that sells.
However, social media today does not favor innovation. For example, Instagram is becoming a dominant news source while it is designed to favor personal photos and short videos. This results in innovation adoption slowing down and lost opportunities. There are numerous companies with innovative solutions which could not break through. Especially startups and SMBs. This is a great loss for the market and society.
We want to reverse this trend. There are too many companies that create amazing innovations, yet they produce content which does not promote them. The belief that innovation should be hidden and that customers only want fun is wrong. We believe customers are smart and want to participate in innovation. Now it is up to companies to communicate that, and to engage customer in innovation.
BMW asked its Twitter followers to vote on the best sustainable mobility solution and they voted 87 % for public transport and only 5 % for BMW products. This is a great example of difference between what company wants (sell cars) and what customers want (buses).
Building something like openinnovation.me is one in a life time opportunity. It is one of those “build it and they will come” projects that test vision and motivation. I am very lucky and happy to have the opportunity to do it, and clients and a team who share my vision:
Everyone should learn more about innovation
Content creation and consumption have been exponentially increasing for decades. But the quality is not. I want to offer a higher quality content – content about innovation. Innovation is what moves us forward. It is not politics, gossip, and entertainment, but innovation that improves our lives. The more everyone knows about innovation the smarter and better off we will all be. I want to build a social media where content, data, and algorithms serve only one purpose – increase innovation.
Companies should talk more about innovation
Companies got used to sharing low quality content, hacking poorly designed recommendation algorithms, and paying for simple visibility. Companies are actually very smart but they started to pretend they are stupid. Companies create innovations which improve our lives. This has stopped being visible to us. We are living in a time of the biggest disconnect between what companies actually do and how we see them. I want to help companies to again start talking about what they actually do – innovate.
Connecting different people will create more innovation
The more different people talk, the more innovation is created. Unfortunately, finding different people with interest and time to talk about innovation is not an easy job. The biggest block to innovation is being too busy to innovate and I want to solve this. It should be as easily as possible to find people and companies outside our usual circles with whom we can start innovating.
This webinar will have the form of an open discussion – anyone can ask questions and discuss with the Tommaso, Matteo, and Andrea. If you want to stir up your ideas about innovation, this is a webinar for you.
It will be held on 17:00 CET Wednesday 9 June. Language is Italian.
Businesses will be required to operate in a fully sustainable way. This includes how they produce, use energy, transport, their suppliers, and – most importantly – their products.
Most of the businesses stopped digitalization after they made websites, social media profiles, and started using CRM. However, digital gap between market leaders and others is even greater now then before. Biggest digitalization projects are customer portals and software which supports products.
Artificial intelligence is improving current and creating new automation opportunities. While its popularity in news has dropped lately, it is actually growing in importance. More and more human tasks are automated leaving more time for us to be creative.
Decentralization is a trend which tries to include as many stakeholders as possible by creating self governing platforms. Blockchain is one of the most popular decentralization technologies which is challenging finance.
Open source, crowdsourcing, open innovation, are all openness trends which have been building up for decades. Openness is a trend which requires companies to be more open to customer needs and to allow more stakeholders to participate.
These trends adhere to these rules:
– Companies that do not adopt them will not survive,
– Integrating them requires deep understanding,
– Adopting to them requires serious consistent long term investment.
Open innovation should be understood as networked innovation. It engages more innovators within and outside the company which results in innovation of higher complexity and competitiveness. For competitors to compete it is not enough to just copy the product, but they must also copy the innovation network, which is impossible.
Such networks should be built with internal departments, external experts, and different companies which can offer new skills, technologies, expertise, points of view. The more diverse yet relevant the innovators are, the more resilient and competitive the innovation will be.
As global competition is increasing it is imperative for companies to increase innovation complexity making them more resilient and competitive. Companies that continue with closed innovation will be easily copied, which means they will be investing in their competitors’ growth, not their own.
Today any single product can be copied, but a customer experience built by an open innovation network is impossible to copy.
Cryptocurrencies are a danger to sustainability and they have failed as a practical currency. However they found success as an investment product. Even as such they are accused of being a risky speculation in spite of rapid growth and big investment.
Main cryptocurrency investment characteristics are:
• It is easier to invest in cryptocurrencies. Trading is less regulated and it is easily accessible to anyone anywhere.
• Investors do not need to invest hundreds of thousands to gain relevant profit. Since they are high growth, smaller investment can be profitable.
• Little knowledge is needed to participate. There is no need to understand market mechanics, forex, innovation, competition.
All of these points are typical of speculation and possible scams, but here the last and most important point:
• Cryptocurrency investors are buying an asset which has no hard value, no use, and probably never will. The only point of buying is to buy it, and not to buy something else. Cryptocurrencies are a fashion statement for those who want to differentiate not only by their clothes and music, but also by their investment choices. This need for individual differentiation is fueling the crypto growth.
Basically, younger investors are saying NO to Wall Street. They are the same people who cheered for GameStop. Cryptocurrencies are purely virtual soft product, which allows its investors to differentiate. It is an investment product more similar to punk and Versace, rather than mutual funds and Apple stock.
To predict its growth we must answer this question: How many more people will want to use cryptocurrencies as a fashion statement?
Innovation starts with a problem. Solving a problem requires deep understanding of customers who experience it. That can happen only in two cases: you are the customers or you understand customers well.
Customers you connect with and understand will define your innovation.
In reality companies stop talking with new customers and focus on legacy customers and internal stakeholders – distributors, sales, engineers, owners. But without the contact with new customers companies can not make highly competitive innovation.
Open innovation opens up companies to new customers with problems which are more profitable to solve. It motivates the company to talk to new people which results in new products, more competitive innovation, and new revenues.
Before finding a problem, understand the type of customer you want to help. Working only for legacy customers or internal stakeholders will result in less competitive innovation.
World Creativity and Innovation Day is a great opportunity to remind ourselves that creativity and innovation are not one-to-many activity but a many-to-many cooperation. Only reason that we had one-to-many approach is because technology was not developed. Now that we have the web, smart phones, and all the gadgets we are returning to what true creativity and innovation are – many-to-many cooperation.
Enjoy the World Creativity and Innovation Day!
PS Being cooperative and open is also good for business :)
Companies have a tendency to close up. Paradoxically the more successful they are, the more closed they tend to be, trying to protect what they have while focusing all the energy on maintaining the pace. This is exactly when companies should make an effort to open up. Here are 3 small suggestions:
Organize open public calls (webinars, Zoom calls, conferences) where anyone can ask you anything, and your experts answer on spot.
Try to partner with a new expert, every month
An expert can be an individual or a company, someone in a new field which is interesting to you. Maybe it works out once a year, but the process itself is inspiring.
Open competitions with rewards
Offer a reward (product, cash, partnership, etc) for a solution to a problem that you have, and promote the competition.
Above suggestion are not only great for innovation and openness, but also for brand positioning and promotion. Your brand will be perceived better and your company will increase interactions and sales, probably at a lower cost than other methods. And if your customers are not reacting to above, then take this as a sign that your brand is loosing its position and you should fix that.
Digitalization is an enormous unstoppable change. It was enormous even before the Coronavirus crisis, and is even more accelerated now. Here are some examples of changes:
– Manufacturers that employ hundreds of people in automated factories are less relevant than apps selling their products,
– Olympic gold medalists are less relevant than a Twitch gamers,
– Books and films are less relevant than social media posts,
– Museums and galleries are less relevant than an websites,
– Education and career are less relevant than social media following.
Trend is that new companies are taking over markets by inserting a digital layer in the customer experience. And defending brands are not being open enough to embrace and invest in digitalization. Digitalization is a clear winner, it is unstoppable, and companies which are closed and do not listen to their younger, future, and digital customers, will stop growing and start shrinking.
Openness of a company is a key to hearing, understanding, and satisfying digital needs of their customers. Closed companies tend to listen only to narrow product related feedback. They hear what they want to hear. Open companies adopt a market view beyond the product feedback and listen to nuanced requests.
It is April Fool’s Day. You can relax and have some fun. You have other 328 days in a year to be serious, and only today to lower your guard. Humor as well is very liberating, relaxing, and great for openness and innovation. Enjoy it.
Like any new technology, blockchain is waiting for new applications which increase its value and market. NFT is a recent blockchain application which is making a boom right now.
NFT allows single digital files to become unique items by connecting them to blockchain. This means that any image, video, and sound file become unique and can not be copied. Content creators, artists, designers, film makers, musicians immediately adopted NFTs motivating creation of dozens of online marketplaces.
NFTs are doing what every technological innovation must achieve – merging technology with culture and finance. Today’s marketplaces are extremely complex and customers are sophisticated content consumers. This obliges technologies to become a cultural phenomenon with sustainable marketplaces. NFTs are another example that technology without culture and finance offers little value.
Brute force is a growth method used by big multinational companies that can afford it. Brute force is basically buying everything that can be bought – sales people, real estate, advertising, research, data. Big companies have big budgets and they spend a lot to keep the competitors away, maintain status quo, and grow.
For SMBs which can not afford brute force innovation is the only way to grow. However, innovation is also challenging. In most SMBs innovation process is not a predictable system which delivers continuous results but an act of random good will and inspiration.
This is why open innovation is a perfect solution for SMB growth. It allows SMBs to apply a systematic innovation approach which can compete against brute force. The very weaknesses of SMBs – good will, lack of rigid processes, high creativity – become strengths in open innovation. Also big companies traditionally have a hard time to be open or change in any way, while SMBs are automatically open and flexible.
My advice is that SMBs should avoid investing in brute force methods (advertising, sales people) before they adopted open innovation. Their brute force investments will be much more effective when they are more open and have systemic innovation in place.
If customers do not buy innovation, there is no innovation. Innovation is getting people to accept new things and there is no better acceptance than buying. However, people love to talk about innovation but really do not know how to buy it. And when they are suddenly in a situation to buy it, they are confused or panic.
If USA fashion industry wants to compete against the Italian one, it needs customers who will buy innovative fashion. USA can not have an Armani, Prada, Versace, or Dolce & Gabbana unless it has customers who are willing to part from an oversized t-shirt and sneakers. If Italian software industry wants to compete against the USA one, it must have companies which seriously evaluate Italian software, buy it, offer feedback, instead of just going for the cheaper USA option.
Without buyers who know how to buy innovation, there is no innovation.
Here are few tips on how to buy innovation:
1. When evaluating innovative products, consider what it solves on a strategic and more conceptual level, beyond the basic price and features list.
2. Dedicate 1 hour a week to interviewing sales people who sell the most innovative products. This will amount to 50 evaluations per year. If more managers do it, the number will increase.
3. Use the most innovative products whenever you can but also prepare a more stable less innovative alternative to minimize the risk.
4. Purchase different innovative products from what your competitors use. This will improve your differentiation.
If you buy innovation, you participate in innovation and you are an innovator. A company which does not buy innovation most likely can not make and sell innovation itself.
As companies grow and enter more markets, their customer relationships are more and more narrow, rigid, and automated. Questions asked by companies to their customers are simplified for the sake of more efficient processes and automation. Sales is narrowed down to “Will you buy?” which allows YES or NO answer (e-commerce, call centers), while marketing uses a bigger variety of questions which still offer binary and narrow choices: likes, shares, and rates. Armies of investors, managers, designers, programmers, psychologists, sociologists, and consultants are educated to lower the quality of communication in exchange for quantity.
Open innovation is a return to more human creative communication between companies and customers because it uses questions which can not be reduced. The main question of open innovation is “How can we make this better?” Once we ask or are asked this question we feel a noticeable change in our attitude. It is different, engaging, hopeful, and positive. It makes the communication more fun, instead of making us feel like we are going through a meaningless checklist.
Not all binary communication is bad, but companies that force customers into binary communication way will definitely lose some of its creativity and growth.
Both open innovation and e-commerce are major SMB trends. Here is the comparison:
Platforms: e-commerce wins
E-commerce is supported by a bigger range of more mature tools. E-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and Prestashop allow easy set up of online shops while marketing platforms like Google Ads and Instagram are e-commerce focused. Open innovation is not supported by such range of tools, and marketing platforms are not optimized for an open cooperation with customers.
Revenue: open innovation wins
E-commerce is easier to set up and grows revenue immediately, but it is limited to switching old customers to new channels and entering new markets with old products. While e-commerce creates substantial growth if a company starts from a low point, it does little for a company with a developed revenue and presence, especially in B2B. Open innovation, on the other hand, creates huge leaps in revenue because it creates highly competitive innovations.
Cost: open innovation wins
E-commerce providers can trick companies with low cost entry level solutions which are actually insufficient. Real costs come later and are higher. E-commerce is mostly based on technology and it requires everything to function perfectly which is costly in both money and time. Open innovation is more of a soft human activity which requires small support from technology, and therefore costs less and is much easier to integrate in culture and processes.
Conclusion: open innovation 2:1 e-commerce
There is no real competition between open innovation and e-commerce. They do not exclude each other, but support each other. Company which uses open innovation will perform better in e-commerce, and a company which uses e-commerce will be better in open innovation. Do both.
Andrea and I love interviews and by accident Andrea and I made interesting interviews on the same day. Andrea interviewed Alex Terzariol and I interviewed Oliviero Toscani. Both Alex and Toscani discuss change and innovation in their own terms – Alex as a product designer (a harder product approach) and Oliviero as a communicator (a softer cultural approach). Hope you enjoy them.
Andrea interviewed Alex Terzariol, founder of MM design – a global product design firm
I interviewed Oliviero Toscani, one of the most influential communicators
Some companies are treating the ability to innovate as a privilege. Influence on innovation is accessible only to a selected group. Large parts of the team are excluded. Also partners, distributors, and customers can be excluded. Innovation is created by the few.
This is rooted in the idea that the more important something is, the less people should have access to it. While this can make sense in some cases, it is not the best approach for innovation. Innovation is the most customer centric activity in the company. Including few and excluding many is contrary to the very idea of innovation, it increases risk, and lowers ROI.
Internet has brought many ways to include people in company activities. Social media sharing, viral marketing, user generated content, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding are all activities which have a huge ROI by removing privileges and allowing everyone to participate. Innovation is no different, and open innovation is simply a way all innovation will be done soon. Making innovation open by removing its privilege status will lower the risk and increase ROI.
Making financial products available to everyone in the world is an inversible trend. Goal is to allow everyone to improve their financial position by offering them more options. For example, people living in an African township can make money by investing in a publicly traded company.
Although they claim technical reasons, it appears that Robinhood is protecting hedge funds, of which some own Robinhood, from their own customers.
The most important innovation question for me is: What happens when customers with a completely different culture and ideology gain influence through change? How will the market leaders react? Robinhood slogan was simple, while Robinhood practice is much more complicated.
Being open is perceived by customers as a positive thing. It is an equivalent to equality and sustainability – it is a new word which represents something good that customers want to be associated with. No customer wants to be associated with closed, not equal and not sustainable.
However, not every company can be open. Many companies do not have the capacity, skills, and resources to open up to customers, nor to make any changes resulting from that openness. For example, oil companies are heavily dependent on the technology which is hard to change and their business models have no margin for change, which forces them to be closed. Also there are companies with management that sees no value or too much risk in expanding customer relationships.
Therefore, any company which can be open should embrace it, increase it, communicate it, and promote it. This will differentiate that company from others who can not do it. And any form of positive differentiation is a competitive advantage.
Open innovation is always present in all companies, but is often not documented, not recognized, informal, and invisible. It always increases growth but is not connected to it – problems are discovered, solutions are designed, partnerships are created in situations which are not connected to open innovation. This usually happens in physical meetings such as sales and fairs.
Now, with the rapid change and digitalization caused by the Coronavirus crisis, companies stopped doing all those informal and invisible things. This is a risk because they are not aware of what is missing, what is lost with the change, and they are not able to replace it. They collected valuable market and innovation knowledge in physical meetings which are not replaced with digital alternatives.
Even if it appears that your company was not using open innovation, you should assume that it had some benefits from the invisible open innovation. In such case adding formal digital open innovation processes and tools now will show results such as increased market knowledge, discovery of new problems, increased cooperations with customers and partners, and finally improvements and additions to the product portfolio.
Open innovation is not an isolated activity but a new way to do business, to innovate, market, and sell. It is a revolutionary change in marketing and sales which emphasizes the most competitive values of products – innovation. Most importantly, it favors and differentiates companies which have something new to offer over those who do not.
Here are 3 things every company should do in 2021 to adopt open innovation:
Choose an open innovation leader
It is good to have someone who can manage the open innovation adoption across all teams. While bigger companies hire a full time open innovation leaders, smaller companies can assign this responsibility to an existing member, possibly from marketing or sales.
Include product design, marketing, and sales in open innovation
Open innovation should be added to all customer focused activities – product design, marketing, sales. Everyone should be trained and included in open innovation on all levels. Every contact with a customer should be a form of open innovation resulting in customer inclusion and accelerated innovation.
Include open innovation in all communication, marketing, and sales projects
Open innovation is a customer relationship element. Without open innovation customers can only buy and complain. With open innovation they can participate. Feeling of participation is a far more positive experience than just buying and complaining. Companies should include open innovation in all aspects of customer relationships.
There is no doubt that 2021 will be one of the strangest years in history. It combines globalization with multiple crisis: health, economic, and climate. In this situation we are confronted with two options: do nothing or innovate.
Here are the top innovations goals companies should try to reach in 2021:
Beating Covid 19 will remain a high priority goal. There is a lot of room for improvement in prevention, while treatment development just started.
While upper class might get richer, middle and especially lower class will suffer. The wealth and growth decrease will set the world population and economies at least a decade back. Such poverty crisis will result in elevated crime, lower labor bargaining power, lower quality and quantity of production. Most importantly purchasing power will be reduced.
Work from home
Even if the pandemic ends, majority of the staff will want to continue working from home. This will affect management, travel, real estate, and many other industries.
Health, work from home, poverty, and other factors will disrupt availability of the work force, recruitment, outsourcing, contracting.
Digital tools are a standard. However, many companies adopted digitalization superficially, without any real deep change. Digitalization is a very destructive disruption which will lower the number of competitors in next few years.
Already in 2020 multimillion EUR contracts are rejected simply because suppliers are not sustainable. In 2021 companies not investing in offering sustainable products and operating in a sustainable manner will be more and more isolated and ignored.
Companies in 2021 will be faced with impossible challenges to invest in innovations while their revenues diminish. Companies should now start to talk to each other, build partnerships, share costs, listen to customers, be open and supportive. We have a hard year ahead of us, and an open attitude is a good way to start.
The lesson learned is that hate is the same type of emotion as love – it is a form of obsession. Innovation causes strong emotions – both negative and positive which must go together. What innovation does not create is indifference and boredom. If customers are indifferent or bored, then innovation is not working.
When choosing how to innovate, taking a risk to be more extreme is worth it, and negative reactions should also be understood as a component of success. Failure is lack of any emotion.
If a company communicates more, it will innovate, sell, and grow more. Companies must always make an effort to be open up more. While big brands are automatically overwhelmed by customers, the remaining 99.9 % of the companies should work hard to use every opportunity to attract and talk to customers.
Open innovation will be more open if these limitations are removed or relaxed:
1) Do not restrict who you communicate to,
2) Do not set deadlines,
3) Do not focus on a specific geography,
4) Do not limit to only specific goals,
5) Do not focus on risks, but on rewards.
Examples of open innovation approaches:
Limited: We want German PhD engineer to solve our engine problem by Friday, so we can make more money with it.
Open: We want everyone to tell us their problems or ambitions, at any time, and we will find a way to help them.
The paradox is that while companies are always focused on a niche, they are actually solving general human problems. For example, a solar energy scientist is working to make homes warmer. Product design and engineering are always extremely specialized, but there is no need for open innovation and communication to be specialized as well. By being more open, engineering resources will have a chance to be applied to new problems, allowing bigger innovation leaps and making the company more competitive.
Goal of open innovation projects is to provide growth opportunities by discovering new problems, new market entries, new partnerships, new products.
There are two types of open innovation projects:
1) Open and random – anyone can suggest anything at any time;
2) Set of steps – but not too rigid.
Both should be used without prejudice, and both are low investment with a possible high return.
While open and random projects require companies to simply open up and communicate to customers and external experts, set of steps projects require at least these 3 steps:
Step 1) Define a business objective which results in growth and which you can not reach on your own.
Example: increase of sales in USA market.
Step 2) Promote an open innovation goal related to the objective.
Example: design a new product for USA market.
Step 3) Find experts and customers who can help you reach the goal and partner with them.
Example: Partner with a USA manufacturer who can co-design your new products and include it in their offering.
Based on these 3 steps, open innovation is a marketing & sales project, with some product design. These steps require good understanding of both market opportunities and company limitations. Errors can be poor choice of objective, disconnected and unrealistic open innovation goal, and poor partnership conditions.
For quite some time now marketing & sales have been distancing itself from creativity and innovation, and rely more on brute force advertising and cold outreach. That trend is being reversed by the Coronavirus crisis.
For some time now companies and customers have been saturated with ads and calls that offer no real or new value. This sentiment has been building up. What else can we do with customers? how else can we use our partners? Open innovation, initially a nerdy idea created to connect high-tech companies to academics, seemed like a good alternative to expand the relationship from “buy from me” to “lets make something good together”. Recently it outgrew its initial idea filling in the creativity void created by programmatic and big customer data cold calling.
Coronavirus crisis drastically accelerated this change. Post-Coronavirus market will require innovation much more than before and open innovation will be its main driver. Understanding the market, understanding the customers, catching the new problems, understanding the new needs, making, marketing, and selling the products to solve them will be the major strategic goal of all successful companies.
Just pushing the old products down customer’s throats with tons of ads and cold LinkedIn messages will not work. Post-Coronavirus market will be like landing on a new planet – everything needs to be reinvented, and the best tool for that is asking questions.
Open innovation will be one of the most dominant growth strategies in the coming decade. Companies that adopt it will discover problems and solutions faster than those that do not. Our goal is to provide the best all inclusive tools for companies to openly innovate with customers, experts, partners, and employees.
For this reason we have rebranded our platform from BEMinnovate.com to openinnovation.me.
Outsourcing rebranded as remote work staffing.
There is no difference between outsourced and remote team members anymore. This means that outsourcing will have an accelerated growth. Companies can offer remote staff to other companies as an added service on top of their products and services. The ideological barrier of physical presence is removed which opens up many opportunities.
Remote work training
Training people remotely is not more difficult, but it is new and needs to be figured out. We had centuries to perfect how to train people in person. Now we have months to figure out how to train train pilots, bus drivers, crane operators, chemical engineers, police officers, and many others remotely.
Remote education of children
Educating children has been rapidly changed globally within months. Never before has such education reform been effected. Tools and methods used now are far from perfect and remote education innovation is just starting. Educating children should not only deal with learning but also with social and happiness aspects.
Non stop virtual rooms for companies
Current meeting tools such as Zoom and Skype are based on the concept of calls and meetings. Meetings require full presence and are an interruption. While these tools can be hacked and used as virtual work rooms, they are not actually made as such. There is a need of virtual rooms which allow constant communication and cooperation which is not based on meetings.
Integration of services and products
Access to services will be reduced by lack of physical presence and by increased number of failed service providers. Companies should keep adding services on top of their current offering to make sure that their products can be easily integrated and used.
Access to new markets is not geographical but also industry based. New markets can be reached through cooperation with companies in other industries. Cross-industry collaborations and partnership offer an enormous potential in innovation and growth.
Specific domain search engines Google is dominantly a consumer search engine catering to the needs of average individuals. Amazon, Alibaba, and others are search engines focused on specific products. While there are many portals and databases of products, there is still a huge need of easy to use search solutions for many specific domain names.
With remote work people might decide to exchange their homes with someone else in order to experience living in another area. Home swapping is simpler than renting out your home and renting a new home. It simplifies the exchange catering to the new nomad workforce.
IT is an often forgotten industry when it comes to sustainability, while in fact it can play a huge role. Company and personal IT are replaced too often, seldom repaired, but used by everyone. Reducing the need for constant purchasing of new IT products, repairing the current ones, can make IT companies more competitive.
Big data integration
Big data can make or break companies. Companies that do not use big data will definitely fail with increase of remote work. Big data is the main driver behind virtual sales. Offering big data for SMBs and niche industries will definitely be a valuable product in coming years – for companies which are prepared to use it.
Open innovation should be a whole company attitude which includes top and bottom. It should be reflected in all types of leadership. Here are the main qualities of the open innovation leadership style:
Leader wants to listen more, not to be listened to more
There are two types of leaders: those who are listening and providing a service to the team, and those who expect the team to provide a service to them. To apply open innovation, leaders should try to practice listening and doing what team and customers want. Belief in own superiority and lack of trust towards the team and customers will not create an open culture.
Leader focuses on customer centric goals, instead of internal ones
Nothing kills innovation faster than focusing on internal goals like finance, legal, IT management, human resources, etc. A leader must reach these goals as well, but must always remain focused on customers. Leadership which focuses on internal goals only without considering customers will make the company less open, more focused on itself, and less competitive.
Leader takes risks, and gets better at taking them
Open innovation is a risk taking strategy. Opening up means going outside safety boundaries established by decades of errors. A leader which takes less risks is actually taking the biggest risk – not being open and not innovating. Open innovation leader will take risks and learn how to manage the team and customers through errors.
Leading teams through open innovation requires listening, customer focus, and taking risks. These skills can be learned easily if the leader is motivated.
“Home working had probably reduced his capacity for creative thought. Informal chats at work were often more useful than formal meetings.” are statements by Andy Haldane, Bank of England’s chief economist. He added that “creativity was important because it fostered innovation, which in turn fueled economic growth”. He is wrong to conclude that remote work is bad for innovation. Here is why:
1) Innovation is fueled by team creativity, but creativity is not fueled by physical presence. Big part of creativity, inventions, and innovation happens without physical presence. Scientific research is a good example.
2) Haldane is expressing his own limitation which does not reflect the real global trend. He holds a top banking position which unfortunately is not a position of high innovation and change, but of status quo. Reality is that during the pandemic, remote work and innovation have grown drastically together.
3) Innovation methods for remote teams have been available for decades and even centuries, with results far greater than any single bank produced. My favorites are early 20th century circular letters.
4) Lack of requirement for physical presence allows companies to engage talent which is not accessible physically. This makes the innovation process more inclusive and diverse. Limiting innovation to physically present talent is exclusive and closed.
While adopting remote work companies must maintain competitiveness by innovating. To do so they must look beyond old and closed methods such as physical meetings, but must work to find new solutions. There is no better test for a company to show how innovative and adaptable it is, than how it handles remote work.
Rate of innovation is the amount of innovation produced by a company. Innovation can be small or big, it can be in products, services, processes, content, marketing, and sales. Rate of innovation can be measured by how many positive changes are added to the customer experience. It is related to the amount of experimentation and research – the more tests, experiments, and research is done, the more new products, services, content, processes, marketing and sales methods will be created.
To increase the rate of innovation a company should:
1) Make it clear to the team that innovation does not include only products, but also other areas: services, processes, content, marketing, and sales. Products are hard to innovate and some industries can not change the products. On the other hand, everything else can be innovated, as long as it improves the customer experience. Content, marketing, and sales are also the main elements of innovation, and if they are not innovated innovation will be blocked.
2) If one area of innovation is slowing down, increase innovation in another area. For example, if funding for product research is lowered, then increase experiments in content and marketing, or adopt new sales methods.
3) Monitor experiments in all areas and evaluate which parameters are resulting in innovation. Without quantifying the innovation process it will be hard to understand if the rate of innovation is dropping or growing, and at which speed. Drop or slowdown in the rate of innovation is a good indicator that the revenue will drop few year later.
Innovations are like athletes. Their life consists of 3 stages: growth, peak, and decline. Peak is the main event in the life of the innovation. It is the moment when innovation has the biggest market share. Growth is the increase in market share and decline is loss of market share.
It is hard to determine what is actually peak for an innovation. Looking at history it is clear that we have passed peak TV, peak radio, peak print newspapers, and we are in decline phase of those innovations. These innovations will never reach the market share and influence they had before. We are also close to peaks or have passed peaks in oil, coal, and internal combustion cars. We are far from peaks in digitalization, video games, and Internet, and very very far from a peak in space exploration. It is much harder to say when will VR, kitchen furniture, and industrial cinema peak. Hardest for me is to guess what is the peak of porcelain.
Companies must choose which innovation to invest in. In this decision it is important to understand how close is the innovation to its peak.
We live in a world which favors adaptation. Those who adapt and change are considered the best, both in nature and society. In business an opposite of adaptation is a “one trick pony” – a company which succeeded once, grew, but it refuses to change. A company which knows only one trick.
Radical changes like big innovations, new products, new processes, and new teams are radical but necessary for the survival of the company. The main reason why one trick pony companies avoid these changes is because they need to sacrifice their current revenue from old products, old processes, old teams. One trick pony companies are in a difficult position where to move forward they must sacrifice the present.
A new company can disrupt easily because it only needs to convince the customers and has no previous revenue to lose – it can only grow from zero revenue. An established company must first disrupt and change itself, it must say NO to revenue of millions of Euros in hope of long term growth. One trick ponies are simply not able to say NO to the established revenue and are just waiting to disappear.
Good example of one trick pony is any oil company which only signals without real internal disruption. Adaptable company example is Disney which managed to go though many market changes while maintaining its leader position.
Expert is a person who can complete a task better than most. Being an expert is relative to who is available – the more people you know, more and better experts you can find. Main goal of open innovation is to increase how many experts you can access.
Companies, especially SMEs, usually do not have more than few hundred people. Their experts are specialized in already established tasks, and have a hard time working on new tasks. Companies must continuously do new things, and finding new experts is difficult. Even if the pool of people is expanded to suppliers, consultants, and other professional services, this still might not be sufficient.
Open innovation expands the access of a company to experts by eliminating limitations, sharing company information, and engaging marketing and sales. Examples of experts not found in companies, but with open innovation:
– Cycling brand can learn most from professional cyclists,
– Kitchen appliances brand can learn from parents,
– Car brands can learn from urbanists and architects,
– Education organizations can learn from recruiters and company managers.
We have launched BEMinnovate.com – social media for innovation, and BEMapps.com Innovation feature. If you are a client they are available on your accounts. If you purchase BEMapps.com license you will have access to these features.
BEMinnovate.com is currently invitation only, and we plan soon to allow fully open registration for all. Until then, only customers invited via BEMapps.com can log in and add innovations. BEMapps.com includes the Innovation feature which allows all team members to add innovations, goals, products, and rate innovations added via BEMinnovate.com.
Goal of this new release is to increase internal and open innovation in companies, and to also offer a new method of sales and marketing. It is a radical change for our project, which will make a radical positive change for the users. Crowdsourcing internal and external innovation capacity is an unstoppable trend both in customer behavior and company management.
Open innovation is any action which contributes to innovation which includes people outside the company (customers). All companies use some form of open innovation and get substantial benefits from it – revenue increase and higher competitiveness. However, open innovation is often informal, invisible, accidental, and spontaneous which makes it a risk. No source of revenue or competitiveness should remain informal and hidden.
Some companies try to formalize open innovation, but these projects depend on the initiative of an isolated team and are usually done as open calls. Other formalization attempts are collection of customer feedback through social media and web forms. These projects are short lived and sometimes more restricting than enabling because they are outside of the company culture.
Ideal approach is open innovation automation which constantly provides all teams with innovation suggestions, product improvements, connections to experts, and customer and competitor analysis, and is part of a culture instead of an informal or isolated project. In such a way revenue and competitiveness benefits from open innovation can be maximized and managed.
Few weeks ago I have decided to do unedited Zoom interviews with people I admire. My goal was that we learn about innovation, creativity, change, product design, big and small organizations, competition. Here is the first batch of interviews, I hope you find them inspiring as much as I did:
Mirco Pegoraro, CEO, Geoplast
Mirco is unique as a highly innovative product designer / CEO of Geoplast. He has designed hundreds of products but his most successful invention is Geopanel – recycled plastic formwork with which disrupted the global construction industry.
Richard Barbrook, political theorist Richard wrote the Californian Ideology, one of the more influential philosophical essays. He is also a top advisor of UK Labour Party.
Rafael Rozendaal, contemporary artist Rafael is one of the most popular digital artists with more than 50 million unique visits per year on his art websites.
Andy Polain, Antirom founder & author of Service Design Andy is a founder of Antirom, a mid 90’s experimental design group which invented much interactions such as swipe. Today he is working as an service innovator for large organizations.
Aleksandar Sørensen-Markovic, Founder, OOB life
Aleksandar is a sports innovator and entrepreneur, founder of OOB life. He is focused on making high level coaching and training knowledge more accessible.
Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, architectural researcher Srdjan was teaching architecture at Harvard, CUNY, Pen, and has recently started working at Potsdam Institute. We spoke about the relationship between architecture, construction, and change overall.
Zoran Todorovic, Founder, TNM Coaching
Zoran is a globally renown coach focused on innovation and creativity. He worked with top global brands, executives, and teams. He is the owner of TNM Coaching.
Nick Feinberg, Cape Town radio celebrity
Nick is one of the top radio personalities in Cape Town, South Africa. He says it the way he sees it, and has became a voice of Cape Town (and Chelsea). We spoke about change in South Africa.
Massimiliano Dotti, Director of Customer Experience, Subito
Massimiliano is responsible for customer feedback in one of the biggest Italian portals – Subito. We spoke about customer voice in large organizations, and about competition between local and global brands.
Mauro Gatti, Founder, Happy Broadcast
Mauro is one of the top Italian creatives currently working as Head of Content in JibJab. He also founded The Happy Broadcast – positive news publishing project which quickly grew to half a million followers on Instagram.
Steven Schkolne, digital inventor
Steven is a unique – he is one of the top developers with a PhD from Caltech, and an artist who taught at CalArts. He is a serial inventor and an occasional entrepreneur when he thinks he should make his own products.
More interviews will come soon. If you wish to be part of the Raw interview series please email me.
Globalization creates competition between global companies and local companies. Global companies are at an advantage because they are richer and can easily solve most challenges. Local companies have to prepare to eventually compete against global companies. Open innovation is an effective tool in this competition for both parties.
Open innovation collects feedback from local customers, analyzes it, and makes products which match that feedback. Local companies can use open innovation easily because they have better access and are more agile. Global companies have a harder time using open innovation locally – even with all the resources to collect all the feedback, they can not make or customize all the products.
Both global and local companies should use open innovation because it is an element of customer relationship which is quickly gaining traction. Global companies must prepare to customize products and be more valuable to customers in different localities. Local companies must use open innovation as a strong competitive advantage against global companies, but they also must make sure their customers recognize their effort.
A decade ago I was an Ironman triathlete. I spent some time training with Yannik Obenauer who worked as a Hoffenheim athletic coach and explained their approach to me. Hoffenheim was considered a German football miracle – it was bought by Dietmar Hopp, SAP founder, who decided to improve the team performance by focusing on software, statistics, and physical conditioning. I was interested because this was an extreme example.
Few days ago Barcelona lost to Bayern Munich with a 2 – 8 results. Such extreme events are good opportunities for learning, just like Hoffenheim was. These are my conclusions:
Sometimes management is not helping.
Some football clubs without managers perform better.
Star individuals do not guarantee results.
Star performers can cover up the lack of confidence in overall team performance.
Systemic approach wins.
Systemic approach focuses on all objectively relevant parameters and does not cherry-pick.
Barcelona lost because of poor management, false confidence created by star players, and less systemic approach than Bayern Munich.
Innovation is customer’s adoption of change. It can be very small or very big, but it always includes customer decision. Customer decision can be analyzed from the point of view of Big 5 Personality Traits – a standard theory in psychology which evaluates individuals by openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
Ideal innovation customers should have high openness and agreeableness.
This is a holy grail of an innovation customer – they are creative, empathetic, and willing to support. Creative, open, and empathetic customers are not easy to discover in sufficient quantities to build a revenue. Customers which are not open, are disagreeable, and do not empathize, are not a good base for innovation growth.
Sales & marketing team selling innovation should have high openness.
If not, they will most likely not be motivated to take risks and will eventually choose a safer and more established career. Also, they need to attract the open customers, and if they are not open themselves, they will have a hard time attracting them.
Sales & marketing funnel should be designed for ideal customers.
All content and interactions should attract customers who are creative, open, and agreeable. Brand, content, and interactions must stimulate these traits in customer decision making process, and that the customer relationship should be based on openness and empathy. If it is based on other traits, such as discount, the relationship might not be stable enough to sustain innovation growth.
Conclusion is that products which create change can not be sold to people who do not want change, by people who do not understand change, with processes which have nothing to do with change. Sometimes the main factor in the success of innovation is to exclude the wrong people.
I prefer to use 0/10 rating because it is not easy to use. The added friction makes people think a bit more and minimizes the impulsive decisions. I attempted to make a 0/10 rating scale for innovation assuming that innovation is an act of improving the lives of customers.
0 – No innovation or new value is created.
1 – A small closed group improved its own performance. Example: internally developed software.
2 – Localizing innovation from elsewhere. Example: distribution or retail.
3 – Combination of already existing values. Example: spa hotels.
4 – Innovation which works only locally. Example: irrigation in Africa.
5 – A new use for an existing product. Example: efficient design redefined as sustainability.
6 – A new product which enables other companies to innovate. Example: new manufacturing technology.
7 – Large part of customers have an improved choice. Example: new gaming consoles.
8 – Large part of customers have immediately purchased the product. Example: Tesla Model 3.
9 – Life of every individual is improved by forcing competition to copy it. Example: iPhone.
10 – Life of every individual is improved by completely eliminating a problem. Example: polio vaccine.
If you have questions or comments feel free to email me.
If you are a top level manager – CEO or product design, marketing, sales, HR lead – rate your company by answering 13 questions below. You can invite other top managers to do it. The more top managers answer, the more precise the result will be. The quiz can be also answered by anyone else, but this might not affect the company score.
We are scoring companies by combining the top managers results. We will email reports to participants who leave their email addresses. We will not share your company information with anyone.
If you have any suggestions or questions email me.