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  • What is Outside Innovation?
    It’s when customers lead the design of your business processes, products, services, and business models. It’s when customers roll up their sleeves to co-design their products and your business. It’s when customers attract other customers to build a vital customer-centric ecosystem around your products and services. The good news is that customer-led innovation is one of the most predictably successful innovation processes. The bad news is that many managers and executives don’t yet believe in it. Today, that’s their loss. Ultimately, it may be their downfall.

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      Eric von Hippel coined the term "lead users" to describe a group of both customers and non-customers who are passionate about getting certain things accomplished. They may not know or care about the products or services you offer. But they do care about their project or need. Lead users have already explored innovative ways to get things done. They're usually willing to share their approaches with others.
      I use the term "lead customers" to describe the small percentage of your current customers who are truly innovative. These may not be your most vocal customers, your most profitable customers, or your largest customers. But they are the customers who care deeply about the way in which your products or services could help them achieve something they care about.
      We’ve spent the last 25 years identifying, interviewing, selecting, and grouping customers together to participate in our Customer Scenario® Mapping sessions. Over the years, we’ve learned how to identify the people who will contribute the most to a customer co-design session. These are the same kinds of people you should be recruiting when you set out to harness customer-led innovation.
      You no longer win by having the smartest engineers and scientists; you win by having the smartest customers!
      In more than 25 years of business strategy consulting, we’ve found that customer co-design is a woefully under-used capability.
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    « E-Merchandising: Really Important in Tough Times! | Main | Tikatok: Kids Create and Publish Books »

    November 18, 2008


    Patty Seybold

    OOPS! Thanks for catching that, Patrice!
    All fixed....


    Just a little correction, it's Silverlight, not Silverstream.

    Anyway, it's an excellent post!

    Zenobia Godschalk

    Hi Patricia,

    Enjoyed your last two posts and thought they were very timely, and actually quite inter-related (E-merchandising and Golden Age of IT).

    As you mentioned, massively parallel databases are definitely gaining traction in the market, as companies realize what a goldmine of information they can tap into. And these databases are of particular interest to e-merchandisers, as they often only have seconds or minutes to influence a consumers’ behavior – or risk losing an additional sale. Here’s an interesting article from Tasso Argyros, CTO of Aster Data, on how e-tailers can leverage these types of ‘frontline’ data warehouses to make sure that they can take on ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ with ease.

    Tasso talks about how an “always-on” frontline data warehouse enables retailers to keep their recommendation engines running, even during times of peak load. While many sys admins wring their hands this holiday season, the ‘Pioneers’ you talk about will be sleeping well, knowing their systems can handle (and even scale with) the load coming at them, without missing a beat.

    Disclosure: Aster Data is a vendor who provides an always-on, always-parallel MPP database architecture with the In-Database MapReduce programming framework for business-critical applications.

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