Imagine your small business taking its concept to market with funding from the public and support from the world’s best tech firms. Imagine your design teams creating interesting new products with insights that include the needs, ambitions and dreams of your target market. Imagine your ideas influencing the products that millions of consumers around the world buy. Imagine never having to replace your electronic devices because their universally adaptable design allows you to upgrade individual parts, at your own pace from a manufacturer of your choice.
‘Collaboration’ is fast replacing ‘competition’ as the boardroom buzzword. The digital age has opened up a wide array of opportunities for entrepreneurs, organizations and individuals to collaborate in a manner previously impossible, to achieve goals previously improbable.
As the industry shifts from a model of efficiency and power to one of sustainability, and effectiveness, it has never been more important to build products and solutions that improve communities, reduce waste and suit consumers’ individual preferences.
Increasingly, companies are turning to open collaboration initiatives to drive their innovation and sustainability efforts. While Starbucks, Sony and several other organizations have mined ideas from their respective communities to inform store and design products, it is when organizations collaborate that possibilities for accelerated development are unlocked. Recent examples include Motorola’s collaboration with Phonebloks, an independent project seeking to build modular phones. The partnership, aiming to create an open source movement for hardware, sees Motorola’s own modular phone program, Project Ara, derive insights from the Phoneblok community to supplement the technical work already completed. Another popular form of open innovation involves companies partnering with academic institutions for research and development. For instance, Nokia Research Center partners academic institutions including MIT, Stanford and the University of Cambridge under the purview of formal framework research agreements.
In order to support and document this collaboration, internally, across verticals and externally, across industries and specializations, companies are also investing in the development of social technologies. In fact, research suggests that these social technologies can contribute up to $3 trillion in annual value across sectors including consumer packaged goods, retail financial services, advanced manufacturing, and professional services.
Supporting the open innovation movement logistically, in addition to a host of enterprise scale collaboration platforms, are tools freely available to the public. Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Thunderclap are just some of the platforms that people use to generate funding, publicity and support. Kickstarter has raised £22.5m to support over 1500 projects in its first year of fundraising in the UK alone.
An increasingly connected world has opened up infinite opportunities for unique partnership. And by collaborating with smaller players, as is the case with Motorola and Phonebloks, larger organizations now have the opportunity to create a symbiotic innovation ecosystem where collaboration drives the creation of breakthrough technologies. In addition to collective knowledge, the pursuit of open innovation also gives collaborators access to collective networks, greatly enhancing the reach of their idea, product, solution or message.
Have you been part of a collaborative project? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.