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Report from the flagship conference on Open Innovation in Germany – Part III

The second day of this year’s German flagship conference on Open Innovation in Frankfurt that I set up together with Handelsblatt, the leading German business daily, was on Marketing-driven Open Innovation.

7 speeches were made.

Osram, the lighting division of Siemens, gave insight into their Open Innovation approach in general and into the experiences they made with crowdsourcing in particular. A key decision to be made, according to Osram, is to have a clearly stated Open Innovation strategy: In which technology fields and in which steps of the value chain will the firm innovate openly and in which not. Osram has a multitude of Open Innovation initiatives within the defined Open Innovation areas, e.g. off-grid lighting for Africa or advanced LED light systems for premium cars. One focus of the presentation was the crowdsourcing initiative www.led-emotionalize.com in which 900 contributors from 95 countries brought in 600 ideas and 3,400 comments for LED lighting. One important secondary benefit of this initiative was a strong support for identifying market trends.

tromsdorff+drüner shared their insights into the role of Social Networks for Open Innovation. Social Networks demand from the firm a decentralized Marketing approach, i.e. “be there when they come”. Looking at leading firms (BestBuy being a good example), a trend towards merging of e-commerce and Social Networks to a “Social Commerce” can be observed. Interestingly, there is a positive correlation between a firm’s openness and its brand value.

3M ESPE, the dental division of 3M, presented how Key Opinion Leaders in the dental business can be won and turned into co-creators using Web 2.0 approaches. In 3M ESPE’s view there needs to be a clear step-by-step approach to do so, starting with a fascinating Web site and then moving via focused, intelligent Web Marketing and Social Media to mobile apps. The company installed three communities, a “Study Club” with deep information about studies and a “Consultant club” and an “Expertise Club”, where the co-innovation takes place.

Henkel showed how they manage Marketing-driven Open Innovation, outside-in. Henkel believes that innovations require diversity – this is why they have an internal Diversity Manager and are relying on Open Innovation. Henkel’s strategy builds upon two pillars: Generating insights and Ensuring transfer. For the first part, Henkel is using a multitude of approaches such as Home Visits, shopping tours, video diaries and ethnographic research. To ensure transfer of the insight generated, Henkel uses an internal collaboration platform as well as cross-functional workshops that take place in inspring places, such as a home for elderly people when they are working on products for senior citizens.

DHL, a division of Deutsche Post, showed their approaches on getting customer insight (in DHL’s case customers are business clients using transportation services). A key building block in DHL’s approach is their showroom in which they conceptualize and discuss solutions such as smart senors, optimization of the last mile in megacities or smart trucks. Per year, more than 10,000 visitors are enrolled into these kind of potential solutions and a huge number of ideas for refining or adapting existing concepts are generated.

Deutsche Telekom shared their insights into how user insights are generated and implemented. In the view of Deutsche Telekom, there are five Key Success Factors: Integrated process, inspiring environment, cross-functional communication, intuitive transfer and innovative tools. Frequently, the “Creation Center” is used for conceptualizing ideas – this is an inspiring, colorful environment which is very different from the usual office environment.

3M Corporate Venture unit showed in the final speech of the conference how they are looking for investments that provide unique Marketing benefits. 3M sees their activities in this area as ‘smart money’ (compared to plain-vanilla VC money) since 3M is able to provide complementary technological capabilities, a global sales and distribution infrastructure and a brand name to its investment candidates.