Collaborating with Customers to Innovate

Collaborating with Customers to Innovate

Conceiving and Marketing Products in the Networking Age

Emanula Prandelli, Mohanbir Sawhney and Gianmario Verona

The book enriches an important debate in management and in academia on the new product development process. It encompasses marketing approaches and is sharply focused on the opportunities that digital technologies have created for involving customers in collaborative innovation, and actionable recommendations for putting collaborative innovation to work.

Chapter 3: Tools for Collaborative Innovation

Emanula Prandelli, Mohanbir Sawhney and Gianmario Verona

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, marketing, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, knowledge management, organisational innovation


INTRODUCTION As we have highlighted in the previous chapter, customers are proving to be an invaluable source of ideas and insights for product innovation in a wide range of categories, ranging from sportswear to mechanical equipment (von Hippel, 2001a). The application of customer knowledge enhances the innovation process and makes it possible for the firm to better satisfy market needs. However, absorbing customer knowledge is difficult from an organizational standpoint and costly from an economic one (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990; Zahra and George, 2002). Recent contributions to the academic literature provide compelling evidence of how the Internet and, in general, information and communication technologies (ICTs) enhance a firm’s capacity to absorb market knowledge and interact systematically with a broad set of consumers that even go beyond its customer base. In this chapter, we focus on the revolutionary potential of the Web to support product innovation. We begin in Section 3.2 with a discussion of different web-based mechanisms that can support each stage of the product innovation process. In particular, we review the literature on the tools enabled by the latest ICT developments to support new product development (NPD), following the seminal contribution by Dahan and Hauser (2002). Ideally, the value of customer involvement in innovation through the Web should be substantiated not only with theory (for example, Dahan and Hauser, 2002), but also with hard data. However, since this does not seem to be the case in the literature, there is a need for a study that empirically...

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