Facilitating customer involvement in collaborative online innovation communities
|Kustantaja||Valtion teknillinen tutkimuskeskus VTT|
|Tila||Julkaistu - 29 huhtikuuta 2011|
To intensify the new product and service development process, companies have to admit that they need to be enriched by new external knowledge outside the company. Utilising customers’ or potential customers’ creativity and innovation capability has a lot of potential in new product development and service design. The open innovation (OI) concept, lead-user literature as well as value co-creation literature provide interesting possibilities to companies to improve their innovation processes by utilising the customer community creativity. Collaborative online innovation communities can maximise users’ innovation potential by enabling collective thinking, which is superior to the ideas of individual users.
Therefore, this study focuses on customer involvement in new product development especially in collaborative online innovation communities. The overall aim of this twofold research is to provide a framework for building and managing a collaborative online innovation community based on the knowledge of both sides: the users’ motivations to participate and the maintainers’ opportunities to facilitate the community especially through rewarding. To achieve the purpose of the study two research questions are answered: 1) Why users participate in collaborative online innovation communities and 2) How can maintainers facilitate collaborative online innovation communities by rewarding? The first question takes the user’s perspective, which is then completed with the maintainer perspective in the second research question focusing on maintainers’ ways of facilitating, especially by rewarding users in collaborative online innovation communities. The research questions are examined in five publications.
This multiple case study includes three online innovation communities: FellowForce, CrowdSpirit and Owela. The main empirical data was collected from the maintainers by e-mail survey and semi-structured interviews and from the members of the communities through a web survey during the years 2007–2008.
The respondents brought out various factors that motivate them to participate in collaborative online innovation communities. The factors they mentioned were: new viewpoints, a sense of efficacy, a sense of community and fun. Furthermore, interesting objectives, an open and constructive atmosphere, making and acquiring better products, winning and rewards, also motivated the respondents to collaborate.
The results indicate that the lack of proper tools inhibits collaboration in online innovation communities. Moreover, 92% of the respondents suggested that all group members should be rewarded in some way. In addition, the study suggests that the rewarding strategy should be clear and transparent. Rewarding should be based on the efforts and quality of the work, instead of giving rewards based on quantity of the ideas or lotteries. The system should be flexible and rewards should be valuable for everyone. In addition to tangible rewards (e.g. money and products), intangible rewards (e.g. recognition) are also relevant. All in all, the equity and the democracy of the rewarding system are important factors for online innovation community users.
This exploratory and multidisciplinary research represents a path opening in studies concerning customer involvement in companies’ new product development processes in collaborative online innovation communities. From the managerial viewpoint the study contributes to providing valuable information for companies on building and managing collaborative online innovation communities.