There’s a great article in this month’s Business 2.0, called The Next Disruptors. It describes 11 companies that have come up with breakthrough innovations that disrupt industries. One of these is Zopa, the peer-to-peer lending exchange that I described to you in February 2006 and which is featured in my new book, “Outside Innovation.”
I haven’t had a chance to research all of the companies and products described in Erik Schonfeld’s and Jeanette Borzo’s article, but it looks to me as if at least half of them fit the “outside innovation” mold. They were either co-designed by lead users and/or the innovations themselves are tools that enable lead customers to innovate. Here are the four that look particularly appropriate as examples of customer-led innovation and platforms for customer-led innovation:
* Netvibes is a do-it-yourself customizable start page creation tool. “The real threat to established portals…comes from the impressive speed and unprecedented drag-and-drop simplicity of the site’s customization tools.”
* Coghead is an end user-friendly application development tool for developing Web applications. (This may be the one I’ve been waiting for!)
* Salesforce.com has made a success of its AppExchange, building a vibrant marketplace for lead user- and consultant-created application extensions to Salesforce.com.
* Zopa the peer-to-peer lending exchange that lets lenders and borrowers bypass banks entirely, yet spreads the risk and yields higher returns.
My hunch is that of the remaining seven companies profiled in the Disruptors article Applied Location, BlueLithium, Clearwire, EEStor, Jajah, NanoLife Sciences, and NextMedium, at least another couple of these were probably co-created with lead users, or stemmed from lead users’ explorations and innovations.
Disrupting an industry is a great barometer for real breakthrough innovation.