Custom External Innovation Solutions In the beginning, companies would do all of their own custom product development. Then, they decided that a significant percentage of their projects should utilize external inputs. While this created opportunities and some efficiencies, it also often presented time/expense tradeoffs, especially for customers hoping to adopt external solutions without needing to customize them.
Experience shows that pre-existing external solutions virtually never perfectly match a customer's needs. Companies are beginning to accept that they must invest time and resources to secure custom/customized external solutions. With this in mind, two sound and practical approaches are available to them:
These are events sponsored by clients and facilitated by intermediaries such as NineSigma, Innocentive and Spigit (as with Unilever's Foundry program). Challenges which call for solving for a particular technology need as often as not generate proposals versus developed solutions. With this in mind, Unilever's initiative is particularly intriguing. It targets startups to custom develop solutions for them. These are particularly well suited for situations where the challenge is so distinctive, it is exceedingly unlikely that a existing solution currently exists to address it. Still, because of the open format, clients must be willing to risk their competition knowing the nature of the challenge (if not necessarily its solution's ultimate application).
For instance, for a Unilever Foundry challenge currently in process, the Dove brand wishes to be able to aggregate all of the user-generated reviews that its products generate in various online mediums. Unilever is seeking to attract startups (via its Foundry portal) to provide this capability, with a $50,000 budget awarded to the winning proposal.
(Note: I am aware of an existing solution provider that may be able to solve this need).
Many client needs can be successfully managed via an adaptive, collaborative approach involving external technology partners. This means something similar currently exists (though often not within the client's own category) and it can be adapted and or modified to satisfy the client's need.
For instance, earlier this year a global healthcare company client wished to develop a unique product dosing system. This project required identification of prospective technology partners consisting of established firms in unrelated categories (such as food products) that were able and willing to modify their existing dosing systems to create a unique and tailored solution. We developed several excellent viable options. This collaborative approach yielded solutions that fully met their need.
Customers seeking custom solutions should consider which approach will best meet their needs. If you have questions about how best to address yours, contact me today for a no cost, no risk assessment.
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.