Strategies that absorb, respond to and then overcome stormy economic conditions are putting the customer right at the center of product development processes. Crowdsourcing as a powerful innovation strategy is helping organizations knit more tightly with their markets, diminish the amounts of “fuzziness” in the front end innovation (FEI) process, widening idea pools, and even reducing the costs of performing market research.
Involving your customers in the product creation process
Crowdsourcing has numerous benefits and can definitely enhance the overall product innovation process, however there are a few things that are important to consider before fully involving your customers in the product creation process:
- Adopt a structured, integrated approach. Like any other process, co-creation requires structural guidelines and a framework. This will prove to be more effective that casting a wide open net, by asking customers to tell you what they want from your products or services. This idea goes back to the age old debate that maybe customers don’t really know what they want in the first place. Following well outlined steps will ensure you get the most out of your product creation process.
- Channel the right insight into the development process. Creating a crowdsourcing project can be challenging, and sometimes successfully keeping track of all the ideas pouring in can be overwhelming. Although it may seem logical to include all feedback captured from customers, organizations should pay close attention to how they manage their ideation process. More importantly product ideas should fully align with organizational goals and strategies.
- Capture product feedback on a continuous basis. It is important to keep the lines of communication channels with customers, employees and business partners open, at every stage of product development. Keeping this continuous dialogue active and alive will ensure you are not missing information or getting lost in translation.
- Understand and manage expectations and outcomes. This is the notion that individuals can only produce ideas based on their needs and wants— and may not be armed with the appropriate knowledge to determine what is most feasible from a business perspective. What is therefore required is a systematic process that allows R&D, Marketing and Production to vet, score, and analyze product insight.
Leveraging social technologies in product collaboration
It is evident that are several things to consider when integrating a co-creation or crowdsourcing strategy into your product and service innovation process. A structural, focused and goal-oriented approach is needed to ensure that both you and your customers get the most from this collaborative product creation experience.
Furthermore, adopting an integrated approach to social product development applications will enable organizations to bridge the collaboration gap between internal and external stakeholders across the organization.