User Communities

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Finding the Right Role for Social Media in Innovation

Social media provides a game-changing opportunity to support new product development. But taking advantage of the opportunity requires more than just a Facebook presence with a loyal base of “friends.” To use social media for innovation, organizations need clear strategies and objectives. They also should look beyond social media used by the general public to lesser-recognized platforms, such as special user forums or expert blogs, for especially valuable user-generated feedback.

Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

Innovation Lessons From 3-D Printing

3-D printing is the printing of solid, physical 3-D objects. “Just as the Web democratized innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies…is democratizing innovation in atoms,” Wired magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, stated in “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.” Indeed, open-source 3-D printing fits in with the general trend of open-source innovation by collaborative online communities. The big question: How should existing companies respond?

Image courtesy of bylisataylor.com.

Collaborating With Customer Communities: Lessons From the Lego Group

Customer-oriented companies pride themselves on understanding the marketplace and integrating the best ideas into future products. But what would it be like if you found that you had hundreds, if not thousands, of knowledgeable users ready and eager to spend nights and weekends acting as extensions of your research and development department? For the Lego Group, the Danish maker of children’s creative construction toys, this close bond with the user community is not a pipe dream but a reality.

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Do-It-Yourself Brand Creation

Strong brands are often seen as an important corporate asset. But what happens when user communities—connected by the Internet—start to create their own brands? That question was explored in an intriguing August 2008 working paper, “Costless Creation of Strong Brands by User Communities: Implications for Producer-Owned Brands.” The paper suggests that companies with traditional brands would be wise to pay attention to this emerging arena.

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Innovation by User Communities: Learning From Open-Source Software

Manufacturers, not users, traditionally have been considered the most logical developers of innovative products. But user innovation communities present a great advantage over the manufacturer-centered development systems that have been the mainstay of commerce. When products that user communities develop compete head-to- head against products developed by manufacturers — Apache against Microsoft’s and Netscape’s server software, for example — the former seem capable of beating the latter handily in the marketplace.

Showing 1-7 of 7