Beedie plays host to special User Innovation conferenceAug 07, 2015
User innovation is a potential creative goldmine for organizations – but there are many potential hurdles that must be overcome in order for a firm to strategically take advantage of these opportunities.
This was the main takeaway concerning how to effectively leverage user innovation from a special conference hosted by the Beedie CMA Innovation Centre.
The event, “Leveraging Users as Innovators: Managing the Creative Potential of Individual Consumers”, was held on August 6 at the Segal Graduate School. It featured a number of guest speakers who had submitted their work to a special issue in the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, edited by Beedie faculty Ian McCarthy and Leyland Pitt, along with Marcel Bogers, University of Southern Denmark.
The conference offered the researchers the opportunity to present their submitted papers, which address different aspects of the drivers, processes and outcomes of companies’ attempts to leverage users as innovators. Recent research has highlighted the innovation potential of individual consumers, while at the same time there is an increasing interest in open innovation, and how companies can tap into these external sources of innovation.
The conference was opened by Beedie Professor Leyland Pitt, who presented a paper co-written by Beedie faculty Ian McCarthy and Jan Kietzmann, along with Pierre Berthon, Bentley University, USA. The study, “CGIP: Managing Consumer-Generated Intellectual Property”, addresses how firms should deal with the intellectual property their consumers create.
The research explores how consumer-generated intellectual property (CGIP) presents important dilemmas for managers. It argues that consumers’ intellectual property should not be leveraged at the expense of their emotional property, defined as: “the emotional investment in an act of creation and the attachment to the creation itself, such that the creator feels ownership of the creation.”
Pitt cited several real world examples to illustrate the concept, including that of Vin Diesel, who was the first Facebook user to reach the million followers mark, the Sony Aibo, a robot dog that users hacked to perform tasks that were not within its programming, and the Apple iPhone, for which the first person to jailbreak it received widespread publicity.
The paper integrates these perspectives into a diagnostic framework and discusses eight strategies – either positive or negative – for firms to manage CGIP.
A packed morning schedule also saw studies on the phenomenon of crowdsourcing focusing specifically on microstock photography sites, and research on the roots, motivations, and innovation disclosure patterns of community innovators and independent innovators.
MIT Doctoral researcher Sara Jahanmir then offered a novel take on user innovation, focusing specifically on lag users who are slow to adopt new technology. The study dispelled some common assumptions – that lag users have low financial status and are poorly educated, for example – and revealed that they can offer firms novel innovation methods due to not being influenced by prior user knowledge.
The huge variety of sectors within which user innovation can be harnessed was evident in the afternoon’s presentations, with Seppo Leminem, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland, focusing on Living Labs – real life environments ranging from classrooms, to buildings, to entire cities or countries. These Living Labs provide an open innovation network with collaboration from multiple stakeholders striving for creation, prototyping and testing of new technologies.
The research of Fatima Senghore, George Washington University, examined the user innovation created through NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge. The competition is an annual hackathon held in locations across the globe where teams of technologists, scientists, designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, developers and students collaborate and engage with publicly available data to design innovative solutions for global challenges.
Meanwhile European Business School researcher Christian Landau discussed the concept of winners, losers, and non-participants in crowd innovation contests, and looked at the roles of motivation, creativity, and skills in this process.
Finally, Beedie PhD student Karen Robson presented her paper, which though not in the special issue of the journal, was still appropriate for the conference, given that it examined how to absorb innovations form different types of creative consumers. The research develops a typology of creative consumers and categorizes them into theoretically useful types.
It found that a one size fits all approach does not work for firms when it comes to absorbing consumer creative knowledge. It concludes that firms must consider what type of creative consumer they are dealing with, and may also have to prioritize their focus on learning from only one type of consumer.
For more information on the CMA Innovation Centre, visit beedie.sfu.ca/cma-centre/