14 07, 2012

Open Alps: Cross-National Innovation Support for SME in the Alp Region

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:10+00:00 Juli 14th, 2012|MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers|

OpenaplsA little while ago I posted about the Top Technology Cluster (TTC) project, an initiative to foster and fund open innovation in amongst SME and partners in the greater Euregio Meuse-Rheine region (where my home university Aachen is placed). Their goal is to promote (consortial) cooperation between SME from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

PartnersA comparable yet larger project is Open Alps. The program, part of the "European Territorial Cooperation" initiative, is organized and conducted by nine partners from Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. The goal is to support SMEs in their innovation processes with external partners, and to promote the establishment of such cross-border cooperation in the first place.

Much like with the TTC, international linking is the key aspect here. While the famous term of globalization does still mainly apply to large, multinational companies, SME can especially profit from cooperations with partners, large and small, from neighbouring countries, both in one-on-one and larger consortial dimensions.

Unfortunately, there are the usual barriers one has to face when considering to extend business across the border. Open innovation can help to overcome these barriers, especially in regards to the outside-in approach, enabling SMEs to get in touch upon one broadcasting a problem that another can solve.

Open Alps is heading off to support such ventures with a threefold approach. Besides efforts to spread the word of OI, making actors on the market aware of the existance of the approach and its benefits, the program is working on the establishment of so called Open Innovation Labs in all participating areas.

These will then focus on region-specific topics and markets in order to inform and incubate exemplaric cooperations that can be role-models for other SME and get the stone rolling, so to say.

Furthermore (and especially interesting to monitor from a scientist's point of view) there will be special online platform soon, which will support the initiative's goals through active broadcast search and idea contests. This way, hopefully, SME's (and possibly additional larger companies') need information will be matched with solutions from other SME in the region.

It will be interesting to follow the development of this European Union-funded program. Preparing working packages are mostly completed by now from what I hear, and within the next months, labs and online platform will be established and opened for interested companies.

When time comes, we will take a closer look at the platform and its capabilities. Until then, Open Alps informs about all news and launches on their official project website.

12 07, 2012

Market Watch: Idea Contests as a Service: Pitchburner and Skild

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:13+00:00 Juli 12th, 2012|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

Copyright of the respective owners, all rights reserved!Idea Constest are not only recognized by Open Innovation scholars as a great method to benefit from customer experience, they are also a fairly popular tool to foster end- or lead-user integration into the design and development process.

Setting up a successful idea contest, however, requires a lot of dedication, know-how and legwork. This has shown to be a major barrier for many companies who still do not exploit the (full) potential of crowdsourcing and co-creation.

For those ventures who do not want (or can not afford) to hire an open innovation expert of their own, outsourcing to social media specialists can be a viable, yet still not exactly cheap solution. As a result, a number of companies are now starting to offer idea contests as a (web) service. Their concept is that experienced users can create idea contests very easily and at low cost, sometimes even free (a conventional idea contest by a full-service agency costs easily US$50K or more)

An example for this trend are Pitchburner and Skild.

Pitchburner, located in Lincoln, NE, has specialized in supporting online-hosted events, amongst them all kinds of innovation competitions.

Copyright Pitchburner, www.pitchburner.com, all rights reserved!

Submission management interface, click to enlarge!

Pitchburner's platform allows innovation managers (or any staff member) to simply put together a complete idea contest by using a simple interface to define the constest's setup, marketing, participant registration, submissions, judges, idea evaluation and so on. 

Copyright Pitchburner, www.pitchburner.com, all rights reserved!

Comprehensive feature oversight.

Pitchburner offers a free basic version, allowing you do host simple contests as well as two more sophisticated premium and enterprise packages (like multiple rounds, advanced tracking-, messaging- and analytics features, automation of many otherwise tiresome processes and much more).

An interesting part of using a platform like this is the ability to use preexisting template system. Designing a well-looking constes website with all relevant subpages, forms and functionality takes time and requires experienced (hence costly) personel.

Sending emails to all of your participants or judges by the use of the platform's built-in mailing templates is likely faster and less complicated than doing so from your mail client. And if you have ever tried to keep records of an idea contest with 5.000 participants in your standard spreadsheet-software, you probably know how much headache a well-build database can save.

A similar service is offered by SKILD, a new brand by idea contest pioneer idea crossing, one of the most experienced companies in the field in the USA.

SKLID is comparable to pitchburner in many regards, however, they do offer a more complete package of support services. These are not part of the platform, hence not automated, but are "real", traditional coaching and support on tasks like program and marketing strategy, rules development, research, advanced custom design, social media-, technology- and security support, advise on prizes and advances analysis of user/ contest data.

Hence, they do combine the automated contest application with solutions for some of the points I will adress below.

 

Copyright of the original pictures Skild Inc, www.skild.com, all rights reserved!

Skild offers a graphically appealing, easy to use configurator as well. Click to enlarge!

 

My opinion:

  • It is too early to investigate the impact of these offerings on the market for crowdsourcing, and I also personally have not yet tried one of these services for a real project. But the trend is there: Crowdsourcing is getting a broader and broader.
  • The price level of these services is fantastic, and the platform's features include everything one needs for a professional ideation contest.
  • But winning with an idea contest is much more than software:  These platforms do not help you with …
    • asking the right question,
    • formulating the right task.
    • defining the rules of the game and legal terms,
    • getting a feel for the right incentives,
    • reaching a broad and new field of potential participants,
    • (the majority of) community management,
    • not making the beginner's mistakes again,
    • defining a communication strategy for your contest,
    • selecting the winner,
    • programming an interface to existing customer databases or your internal R&D software system,
  • But for experienced users and companies, these services are a great tool. The same may hold true for non-profit or even local organizations, hosting, e.g., an idea contest among their members.  I am curious to see how this field will develop!
10 07, 2012

Conference Report MC2012: The German Mass Customization Community Meeting

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:16+00:00 Juli 10th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MC/OI on the Web, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright FH Salzburg, http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=fh%20salzburg&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fh-salzburg.ac.at%2F&ei=EoPxT5vBMqqg4gTRqfncDQ&usg=AFQjCNFVR6AyMuGxHyBpGzKbuuuWdY_6jQ&cad=rja, all rights reserved!Unless you started following my blog just now, there is no way you could potentially have missed the announcements, special editions and features about the MC2012. This year's edition of the largest MC conference in German language, hosted by Dominik Walcher, Paul Blazek and myself, took place on 29th of June.

Despite the early time of day, the air already started to flicker from the upcoming heat of what promissed to be a really nice summer day at the marvellously desgined building of the University of Applied Sciences near edge of the Alp mountains in Salzburg, Austria.

About 150 professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all parts of the mass customization landscape in the German experienced a tightly packed day dedicated to the opportunities of customer co-design.

Copyright TIM Lehrstuhl, www.tim.rwth-aachen.de, all rights reserved!

Panoramic audience shot. Click to enlarge!

And what a day it was! A buzzing audience followed the presentations of no less than 24 speakers, ranging from young entrepreneurs, telling the tale of their entrance into the MC market, global players and market leaders, giving insight into proven ways and tactics to profit from customer participation, to leading scholars, showing how latest research proves the concept of the integrated customer to be more than a trend.

To not only preach customer integration but actually live up to our words and integrate our conference participants beyond questions and one-on-one networking, we had a special feature in place. Werner Haring, founder and CEO of wallero.us, had contributed to the event's multi media experience by "installing" a social media wall right next to the stage.

Copyright Profilfoto von CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Social Media Wall, Courtesy of wallero.us. Click to enlarge!

This application was a real eye-catcher and various running gags were born during the course of the event – and you still can follow the #MCSalzburg hashtag for a report of the conference.

 The day headed off with the introductory panel. After a hearty welcome by co-host Dominik Walcher, my research group's members Dr. Christoph Ihl and Thorsten Harzer outlined results from our research projects and demonstrated some of the numerical "magic" behind Mass Customization and Open Innovation and how it can be utilized to take the right decisions about mission-critical aspects that many companies do not even realize to be of great importance.

As an example: asked about the ideal number of customization options to offer in your configurator (solution space), would your answer have been: "As many as possible, since more choice equals happier customers!"? If your answer to this is "yes" then our latest resarch findings might offer some ways to improve your customer satisfaction.

Following Dominik Walcher's insight into the development and outcome of the MC500, our great study of the most important MC companies from around the world, I had the chance to present on the importance of customer integration and how companies of all sizes can profit from proper employment of the concept, as well as some new MC trends of the future.

Next on the agenda was the market panel in which Franz Blach (IDEO), Franz Hölzl (Kaindl) and Wolfgang Gruel (Daimler) gave really interesting and well-received insight how Open Innovation, individualization and co-creation have changed the way they are conducting their business and the ways they found to profit from it:

  • An interesting attempt at improvement of working culture were IDEO's working ethics, as Franz Blach outlined them. They are meant to be pretty much contrary to what we are used to in most larger companies these days. Instead of perfectionism and pressure, IDEO deems a culture in which close teamwork, prototypical work (things do not have to be perfect in their first iteration, can evolve and develop), error tolerancy and more fun are the key principles. While there is certainly more to a successful innovation company, this is certainly an approach favorable by many employees.
  • Franz Hölzl demonstrated how Kaindl was able to offer a totally new way to produce wooden flooring, printed with individual patterns and colors, in great looking quality. Because of their production technology and business model, they can deliver a much more customized product at a significantly lower price.
  • Wolfgang Gruel finally brought up the question if/why it is necessary that privately owned cars are often used in a really inefficient way, standing in the driveway most of the time and usually being too large for most of the time they are used. Daimler has been working on models to counter this development by employing car sharing, car pooling and affordable renting models. Nothing revolutionary new, you will say, but this time it is being done large-scale, by an international company, and not your small start-up next door. It will be interesting to observe whether Daimler can actually change something about the status quo or if the highly valued status symbol "car" will remain untouched by the means of sheer efficiency.

 

Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl , collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of our speakers. Click to enlarge!

Next: the social media panel, moderated by Paul Blazek: For all those planning to integrate social media into their PR strategy as well, talks by Martina Partl and Clarissa Streichsbier of cyLEDGE were as insightful as Catharina van Delden's summary of her company innosabi's (unserAller, anybody?) work. Renate Gruber gave the finishing presentation about how her venture CupCakes made its way from a traditional food company onto the MC market:

  • Partl and Streichsbier pointed out that, while social media in regards to mass customization was nothing new anymore, the combination of social media and open innovation are a perfect match. This is certainly true in so far as open innovation per definition relies on participation and hence any media that is suited to increase awareness is potentially supportive for any OI initiative.

    Interestingly they chose Facebook as an example for a customizable information source. The important role of facebook as a customer relationship tool was stressed by all speakers in this panel. Certainly will be interesting to see if/how companies think of now ways to even better employ the platform for their needs. 

During the lunch break, there was time to check the 20+ exhibitors. Some had even set up live demonstrations of their product offers, like Pasterie, supporting us with freshly made pasta or CowCrowd, demoing their lovely wooden pendants, individualized on-location with your own image and/or custom text.

Next: The start-up panel, hosted by MC-blogging colleague Heiko Vogelgesang (egoo.de). Here, Sabine Beck gave an amazing presentation about how her jewlery business Amoonic manages to mix pre-configured and individually customized rings and more in a great portfolio that every manager dreams about: produced entirely on demand, without any significant need for storage space or the risk of wasting materials.

Interestingly, their configurator is not even visible if you enter their website. At first (and actually second) glance you will not notice anything hinting at the possibility to customize a ring. The configuration options do become visible, however, once you have decided upon one of the preconfigured designs. These can then be individualized using a wide variety of options. Possible combinations of gold, silver and gems of all kinds range from 150 to 2.5 million Euro. Certainly something in this for everybody.

However, from my own testing I found it hard to even find out that you can individualize the rings. You have to actually select one before a respective button appears and that could be a serious usability drawback in my opinion as many potential customers might not even recognize the potential of the store. It does, however, explain why about 40% of their sales are actually preconfigured, non-customized rings. Anyways though, with the average customer leaving between 400-500 Euro in their shop, the concept will certainly be profitable – especially since there are very low fix costs.

Next up was Stickvogel, a promissing start-up which specialized in embroiding and etching all kinds of motives into all kinds of goods. Lately they teamed up with major retailer Butlers, offering custom stitching to customers in Butlers' shops. This B2B customization service concept will certainly be exciting to follow over the (hopefully) next years.

Closing presentation of this panel was helt by Carina Schichl and Tanja Sieder, representing their business for unique custom travel guides, Nectar&Pulse, based on insider tips by what they call "soulmates" rather than generalized all-round information. Locals give their best tips for tourists which are then, upon checking, transformed into nicely layouted guides. While this is certainly an interesting idea per se, the issue I see with it is that the product might not be easy to market. As Schichl and Sieder pointed out, their target group originally were younger people. Instead, most of their customers are 30+. While their choice of age clustering is certainly debatable (and lead to one of the mentioned running gags of this conference), this raises the question: do they actually have the right product for the right market? If their average customer's age is above what they expected, they would likely be well advised to adapt to a different kind of information and layout which fits the needs of this target group better.

Next up was the retail panel. Moderator Jochen Krisch (excitingcommerce) did an outstanding job leading through an exciting lineup of big names: Former Bundesliga-athlete Sven Renz showed how his product line of completely customized ski/sports shoes has blessed his company with a yearly growth of 20-50%. However, I expect there to be an even larger potential in this market, seeing how ErtlRenz still "only" sold 2400 pairs of shoe at their peak last year.

Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of the exhibition. Click to enlarge!

Claudia Kieserling, winner of this year's much-noticed Million-Dollar-Challenge by Zazzle, gave a short overview of individual shoe manufacturer selve, showing off some of the models availible to women around the world and giving some interesting insight upon questions from the audience. She especially stressed the importance of the customer's shopping experience, which should be more than just pushing a button and receiving a cardboard box.

A great final presenation in this block came from Max Kickinger. His soundbranding company is known for its work with some major companies like Porsche, Swarovski and many more. Commenting on a truly excellent video he explained how companies use clever sound branding to gain the consumers attention – often without him realizing to be guided towards the "right" shelve – and the checkout counter!

Following another networking break, the final panel of the day: The configurator panel, presented and moderated by Alexander Felfering of Graz University, had the technical side of customer integration covered.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Coffee-Break is over, back to the conference room, Alp-Style!

Andreas Falkner (SIEMENS) spoke about the challenges of complex product configuration, especially where multiple dependencies between customizable factors are to be respected (a good example why companies should reffer to an expert instead of just trying to headjump into the MC market).

Marc Herling of Lumo Graphics demonstrated how the use of 3D-configurators can be a blessing for the consumer who can imagine the to-buy product way better than it would be the case with just some images. With more advanced configurators, he says, the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) will more and more be replaced by YGWYW – You

[actually] Get What You Want.

On the other hand, developing a really well working, appealing 3D-configurator takes a lot more than the amount of work it costs to "just" shoot said product images. Hence, as with so many cases of exploiting new technological opportunities, its a balancing act and might often not be profitable for small companies.

HYVE's Volker Bilgram was up next. In his "Toolkits for Gamification" speech he explained how and why the aspect of playing – adding features that make the process of configuring/buying a product more fun than just an annoying act of shopping – can contribute to a retailer's sales figures. Again: If done correctly!

To complete this panel, Klaus Pilsl of IndiValue spoke about web based configurators and their part in the customer's shopping experience. His company is about to launch a major new "configurator as a (web) service" — something that has been tried for many years, but now finally may become true.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!My personal conclusions of this year's MC2012:

 (1) MC has great potential to significantly improve a company's sales figures and customer brand loyalty. However, to make it work successfully, more is needed than just to put up a fancy-looking configurator and then wait for clients.

Especially the dialog with the (potential) client is and will be even more important in the future, as more and more companies employ easily accessable social platforms like Facebook to communicate with their crowd. And a lot of both promissing start-ups and established companies could profit immensely from experienced coaching since, as Christoph Ihl had pointed out at the very beginning, even the right choice of customization options (not to be confused with as many options as possible!) can make or break your MC business. 

(2) Mass Customization needs to be less outcome-driven and to be looked upon from a higher, more meta-perspective to develop it further. I believe we know a lot about nice and perhaps even profitable BtoC consumer products. But what about MC services that tackle some of our true global challenges?

(3) Finally, the German MC community really is a nice crowd of great individuals, very eager to collaborate, to share ideas and experiences, and to network!

Looking back on a fantastic conference I truly want to thank everybody who made this possible, may it be as a speaker or a guest, an exhibitor or supportive staff member. Special thanks do go to my dear co-hosts Paul Blazek and of course Dominik Walcher, who did an outstanding job organizing this large event with his team at Salzburg University!

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

(Most of) our speakers! Click to enlarge!

9 07, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 10): Mysn.de: Custom Notebooks, Made in Germany

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:24+00:00 Juli 9th, 2012|MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: Another Very Personal Computer

Recently I posted about PC costomizer Dell as part of our MC500 Study. Today we are taking a look at one of Dell's competitors in the segment of individualized computers, Mysn.de/Schenker Notebooks.

While I sometimes argue in my classes that customization is not longer a value proposition in the computer market, these comapnies show that the classic application of mass customization still has its market.

Like Dell, Mysn.de are offering variety of base laptops which you can then customize to your exact media-/ business-/ gaming-/ etc- needs. While their configurator is not exactly a graphical firework, it gets the job done well and lets your virtually assmeble the machine of your dreams (or your budget). I believe that exactly for these hardcore applications customization still has functional value.

Mysn

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.

2 07, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 9): PHD Mountain Software: Custom Sleeping Bags for the Outdoor Adventurer

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:29+00:00 Juli 2nd, 2012|MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: Custom Sleeping Bags Deluxe

Do you like to spend your time outdoors? Go hiking in the mountains, explore nature by boat or even climb on icy glaciers? In any case, if you are doing any kind of adventurous activity that involves sleeping under the stars (maybe with a thin tent between you and the actual stars) then you will probably need a sleeping bag.

Especially in snowy regions of the world your life (or good sleep, at least) might depend on having a sleeping bag that fits your exact needs. And while some manufacturers already offer some customization options, PHD Mountain Software takes things a step further by letting you configure about every aspect of the bag that I can imagine. So if I just sparked your interest in a holiday trip to the top of the Mont Blanc, maybe PHD has the right equipment for you.

PHD

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.

28 06, 2012

Market Watch: Extreme Customization with CedarWorks: Beautiful, Fully Customizable Playsets

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:37+00:00 Juni 28th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Furniture - Home, MC/OI on the Web, Technologies & Enablers|

LogoWhile customized clothing or cars are a rather obvious thing to offer, the MC application I want to present today is rather unique and a really great idea, bringing MC to a new extreme!.

Copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!Now, if you are blessed with children of young age, you might want to give them some of the outdoor toys we have all dreamed of during our childhood: A large wooden castle, equpped with some swing set, a slide and a sandbox. And while you can certainly buy one of these in the local hardware store of your choice, if you want to go for something that fits your well-designed garden a bit better, CedarWorks might have just the right offer for you.

The Rockport, ME, based company offers essentially everything you need to create the playset of your (or your little one's) dreams. Your fantasy is pretty much only limited by the laws of physics and the size of your real estate (and not even that, read on). A really easy to use configurator enables you to plan the wooden construction – may it be just a small swing set or a fully grown castle – by dragging and dropping parts like towers, bridges, slides, swings and all sorts of accessory

All images copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!

A demo play set, configurator view, 3D view and real life result. Click to enlarge!

 The configurator assists intuitively by highlighting such points that a selected element can be attached to, helping to create an appealing playground within minutes, even without any knowledge of online configuration (or carpentry). 

Copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!For clients unsure of how a great design could look, CedarWorks also offers a number of (partially really beautiful) preconfigured sets which can be ordered as-is or customized to one's needs, adding, removing or reordering parts of choice. To top it off, CedarWorks experts are just a phonecall away to help you decide on both a nice and realistic design for your individual conditions like availible space, number and age of kids, pets and so on. 

But what if you do not have a large garden of yours to house a play set? Well, maybe you have the lacking outdoor space availible indoors, in which case you can choose one of the indoor play sets that CedarWorks alongside their outdoor models. These, like their larger pendents, are customizable as well. 

If this concept sounds interesting for you, CedarWorks will hold a tour of their facilities in Rockport, ME, for interested, preregistered professionals. The tour, followed by a lunch, will take place on Friday, 17th of August 2012. More details and registration availible here.

More information about CedarWorks, their products, the configuration process as well as catalogues and pricing can be found on the companie's website.

27 06, 2012

MC2012 Exhibitor Preview: cyLEDGE Introduces CowCrowd, Brings Virtual Friends to the Real World

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:40+00:00 Juni 27th, 2012|Deutsch (in German), Events, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

MC 2012 banner compactHere another preview of our exhibitors at this year's edition of the MC2012, the upcoming German language conference on mass customization and co-creation.

Since the conference will be entirely in German language, so will be this post.

 

CowCrowd: die besten Freunde immer dabei

Neben der eigentlichen Konferenz und dem Expertenworkshop bietet die MC-Conference Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, ihre innovativen Konzepte einer breiten Fachöffentlichkeit zu präsentieren. In den Räumlichkeiten der FH Salzburg stehen dafür großzügige Räumlichkeiten zur Verfügung, in denen wir auch in diesem Jahr wieder eine Reihe interessanter Aussteller begrüßen dürfen.

Für alle, die sich immer schon gewünscht haben, ihr soziales Netzwerk auch in der "wirklichen Welt" repräsentieren zu können, haben wir in diesem Jahr ein besonders interaktives Angebot. Die Wiener Agentur cyLEDGE wird im Ausstellungsbereich eines ihrer gewohnt innovativen Projekte vorstellen: CowCrowd, eine Möglichkeit, die Brücke zwischen virtueller und realer Welt zu schlagen, und das natürliche Bedürfnis nach Individualität mit Vorzügen des Online-Networking zu verbinden.

Im sozialen Netzwerk der Wahl ist man mit seinen engsten Freunden mittlerweile ständig vernetzt, Verbindungen sind für (fast) alle Nutzer jederzeit sichtbar, neue Bekanntschaften ergeben sich nach dem "ich-kenne-jemanden-der-jemand-kennt" Prinzip beinahe von allein.

Doch was, wenn man den Computer ausschaltet, das Netz verlässt? Ohne das digitale Frontend verliert sich der Kontakt schnell. Und wenn man nicht sieht, wer wen kennt, kann das der Kontaktfindung nur abträglich sein. 
cyLEDGEs einfache aber geniale Idee: wenn man schon den Computer zurück lassen muss, sollen wenigstens die besten Freunde mitkommen. In Form wunderschöner Anhänger aus hochwertigem (und fair biologisch gewirtschafteten) Holz in der Silhouette eines sympathischen Kuhkopfes ("CowTag"), mit individuellen Bildern der (virtuellen) Bekannten zu einmaligen kleinen Kunstwerken veredelt.

Die Transformation von Bits und Bites zur Realität übernimmt dabei der Laserschneider. Auf der CowCrowd Website lassen sich die CowTags ganz einfach gestalten. Neben dem manuellen Hochladen von Bildern können auch individueller Text und eine Vielzahl lustiger Symbole auf dem Anhänger frei platziert, verschoben, skaliert und gedreht werden.

Besonders innovativ dabei: auf Wunsch verbindet sich der Konfigurator mit dem eigenen sozialen Netzwerk und lässt den Nutzer die Bilder seiner Freunde direkt von dort aus übernehmen.
In wenigen Minuten entsteht so ein ganz persönliches Schmuckstück, mit dem sich von der Zugehörigkeit zum Sportverein bis zur ewigen Liebe zum Partner alles ausdrücken lässt.

Wenn das Konzept in der Realität den Erfolg hat, den die Idee verspricht, werden sich vielleicht bald ganz neue Bekanntschaften schließen, in der realen Welt, der CowCrowd.

CowCrowd_cut

Wer sich über ein geeignetes Design noch unschlüssig ist, findet in der CowTag Gallerie, einem eigenen YouTube- und Vimeo-Channel sowie dem Online-Pinboard Pinterest eine Vielzahl von Anregungen. News zu CowCrowd gibt es darüber hinaus (natürlich) auch auf der eigenen Facebook-Seite und über Twitter
 

cyLEDGE und viele weitere spannende Aussteller präsentieren sich auf der MC2012. Mehr zu Ausstellung, Workshop und Konferenz auf der offiziellen Konferenzwebsite.

25 06, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 8): Mymat: Customized Doormats for a Successful First Impression

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:48+00:00 Juni 25th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: Style the Ground You are Walking on!

Here in Germany, sunny days are sparse. They only occure on workdays and the sun usually hides behind thick rainy clouds the moment you leave the office. To keep your home free of dirt, doormats are the tool of choice. However, as the saying goes, "there is no second chance for the first impresson". With this in mind – and especially if you get a lot of people to visit you frequently – you might want to fine-tune the first impression of your home by designing your very own custom doormat.

German MC-Company Mymat.de has you covered in this regard, with a wide variety of either pre-designed or personalized mats. Their simple yet efficient configurator lets you pick from a number of templated which you can then customize with your desired size, color, symbols and text and have it shipped to your doorstep – right where it belongs. So if you are considering moving to Germany or do have bad weather of your own, check out their website at www.mymat.de.

Mymat

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.

21 06, 2012

Mass Customization Explained – The Full Series from Innovationmanagement.se

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:51+00:00 Juni 21st, 2012|Customization Trends, Featured Research, General, MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Innovation management, all rights reservedI have been tweeting about it during the past weeks as more episodes have become availible:

Together with my colleagues Fabrizio Salvador and Dominik Walcher, we have been given the opportunity to provide an extended overview on eight parts of various aspects of mass customization on the well-known innovation blog Innovationmanagement.se .Finally, the last episode has been published.

The series consists of 8 parts, starting here.

In the series, we tried to shed some light onto:

  • Part 1: Introduction: Competing in the Age of Mass Customization
  • Part 2: The Market for Mass Customization Today
  • Part 3: Solution Space Development: Understanding where Customers are Different
  • Part 4: Robust Process Design: Fulfilling Individual Customer Needs without Compromising Performance
  • Part 5: Choice Navigation: Turning Burden of Choice into an Experience
  • Part 6: Choice Navigation in Reality: A closer look into the Customization500
  • Part 7: Overcoming the Challenges of Implementing Mass Customization
  • Part 8: A Balanced View: Conclusions and Key Learnings
20 06, 2012

Market Watch: mi adidas Team: Adidas Launches Customization Portal for Sports Teams, Lets You Fly Your Colors

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:54+00:00 Juni 20th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization, Sneaker, T-Shirts|

Copyright adidas, www.adidas.com, all rights reserved.Adidas, major sports gear manufacturer from Herzogenaurach, Germany, is likely known to everybody around the globe.

Since 2000, adidas has been engaging in the market for customized sportswear. Their mi adidas program offers convenient online configuration of your favorite clothing and adds some extra motivation to your sporting efforts. It has been one of my favorite case studies and examples of mass customization in my presentations.

After 12 years of successful mass customization targeting individual athletes, adidas now took the next logical step, enabling not only the individual but also the entire team to design their own individual yet affordable uniforms. Mi adidas Team is the latest addition to the mi-family of adidas customization platforms. And from a business perspective, this may be the trigger to finally scale up MC at adidas.

Copyright adidas, www.adidas.com, all rights reserved!

Configuration process on PC. Click to enlarge!

Amateurs and professionals, youth and adults alike, from schools, universities, leagues and clubs can style a wide variety of footwear, apparel and accessoires. The team's crest, sponsor logo, player number or team name can be applied on the items which are also customizable by picking from 15 base colors.

Sportswear you look and feel great in is one factor adding to your (perceived) victory chances, fan support is another. Well aware of the importance of your supporters, adidas also offers the option to customize a number of off court items for fans, coaches etc.

In the spirit of good sportsmanship, adidas extends the idea of teamwork from the field to the computer: When you have created a design you are happy with, the configurator lets you share your concept with your teammates, management and sponsors via facebook, twitter, email or blog integration.

Once the final look has been decided upon, adidas will ship your order to a dedicated adidas specialist retailer within 45 days.

Mi adidas Team is currently availible for eleven sports categories (running track and field, running cross country, rugby, baseball, football, basketball, handball, volleyball, American football, TECHFIT® training and select Olympic sports) on 16 markets (USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

For those who prefer old fashioned personal collaboration over online social media, mi Team has designed the platform with the use on mobile platforms in mind. It looks especially great on tablet PCs and allows you to design your new major league uniform right on your advancement party.

Copyright adidas, respecitve owners, www.adidas.com, all rights reserved!

Configurator demostration on a tablet PC. Click to enlarge!

It will be interesting to observe how this rather large addition to adidas' customization portfolio will develop and which impact it will have on the market of (semi-)professional team sports goods. More about mi adidas Team on the official website.

Concluding, these are the following three features that make the new mi adidas team customization site really interesting for me:

  • Moving from 1:1 customization to communities of users!  This is still one of the first team customization sites.
  • Building a multi-layered site that takes care of multiple stakeholders – players, equipment managers, coaches, moms, fans, retailers … this is one of the best configuration systems in this regard I have ever seen!  While the online cofiguration toolkit is "just" common good practice, I would say, this multi-stakeholder capability of mi adidas team is terrific!
  • Re-integrating the (independent) retailer back into the MC system. For a long time, MC moved direct, and away from retailers. With mi adidas team, the site also provides great opportunities for individual retailers to customize a sales pitch for a local team, based on a local set of garments.  By making independent retailers part of the system, Adidas may utilize these retailers as "brand ambassodrs" for customization.
19 06, 2012

Contest: Siemens Student Award Germany: How Can You Upgrade Our Aging Community into a Zero Emission Society?

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:56+00:00 Juni 19th, 2012|Co-creation, Events, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

Another interesting contest by German technology major Siemens: The Siemens Student Award 2012 has just headed off.

Siemens Student AwardSiemens has a tradition of trying to find solutions for major problems that our society is already or might be facing soon. These are usually questions concerning the entirety of the global population, like identifying sustainable resources or how the city of the future could be more resource efficient. With this global relevance in mind it is obviously a good idea to have those concerned participate in the finding of a solution. 

One such attempt to create new, future-ready concepts for our planet is the Siemens Student Award, a crowdsourced idea contest to find and discuss new thoughts to solve old (yet relevant than never) questions by the help of students. 

After two very successful iterations in the Middle East and Brasil, where a total of nearly 12.000 registered users gave input on and discussed over 1.000 unique ideas, this year Siemens has decided to put the focus of their third contest, realized in cooperation with German crowdsourcing expert HYVE, on its country of origin, Germany.

From now on until the 15th of July, students enrolled in German universities are invited to take on the challenge to find answers to one of the most pressing issues of our times:

How to upgrade our aging infrastructure to help create a zero emission society?

Urban infrastructures, factories, buildings and networks do not meet the energy efficiency needs of the future. How would you design creative and innovative solutions to meet these challenges?

The entire contest is hosted on a dedicated contest website where all ideas can be submitted, reviewed, commented and discussed by the community. Siemens experts will pick the best 10 ideas who's creators will be invited to present their concepts infront of a jury at the award ceremony in Berlin, Germany.

Prizes for the three winners are really generous: 20.000, 10.000 and 5.000 Euro for places 1,2 and 3, respectively. Furthermore, these contests are usually a great opportunity to impress the human resources department and maybe get one of the much sought-after internships or trainee positions at Siemens…

Copyright SIEMENS, www.siemens.de, all rights reserved!

All details about the contest can be found on the official website.

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18 06, 2012

MC2012 Exhibitor Preview: Hyve: Consumer Integration For Maximum Creative Power

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:59+00:00 Juni 18th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Events, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

MC 2012 banner compactHere another preview of our exhibitors at this year's edition of the MC2012, the upcoming German language conference on mass customization and co-creation.

Since the conference will be entirely in German language, so will be this post.

 

Hyve: Ideen finden, formulieren, verdichten, verwerten

Neben der eigentlichen Konferenz und dem Expertenworkshop bietet die MC-Conference Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, ihre innovativen Konzepte einer breiten Fachöffentlichkeit zu präsentieren. In den Räumlichkeiten der FH Salzburg stehen dafür großzügige Räumlichkeiten zur Verfügung, in denen wir auch in diesem Jahr wieder eine Reihe interessanter Aussteller begrüßen dürfen.

Besonders freuen wir uns über den Besuch der Münchener Innovationsagentur HYVE, die die Konferenz neben einem Vortrag zum Thema "Toolkits with Gamification" auch um eine eigene Ausstellung zu Kundeninteraktionssystemen bereichern wird.

HYVE unterstützt seit nunmehr 12 Jahren Unternehmen unterschiedlichster Branchen dabei, neue Lösungsansätze und Innovationsideen zu finden, in Worten greifbar zu machen, weiterzuentwickeln und in reale Produkte zu verwandeln.

Dabei ist der Name Programm: Hyve bedeutet Bienenstock und kaum ein Wort charakterisiert die größte Ideenbörse der Welt treffender als dieses. Das Internet vernetzt nicht nur Computer, es verbindet Menschen. Menschen mit Träumen, Wissen und konkreten Ideen zu allen nur erdenklichen Lebens- und damit Geschäftsfeldern. Die Chancen stehen also gut, dass die Lösung vieler Probleme, die Ihrem Team gerade Kopfzerbrechen bereiten, irgendwo im Netz bereits existiert – und sei es nur als Expertenwissen, das lediglich mit Ihrer Herausforderung in Verbindung gebracht werden müsste.

Die Größe und Komplexität des Internets erschwert aber leider auch die Kontaktaufnahme mit denjenigen Nutzern, die das benötigte Wissen oder innovative Ideen zum eigenen Produkt beitragen könnten.

HYVE bietet als Mittler zwischen den Bedarfen der Industrie und Wirtschaft sowie der Kreativ- und Wissensbasis der Internet-Community Lösungen, um die Intelligenz (und Emotion) des "Bienenstocks" zu filtern, zu verdichten und zu einer Problemlösung zu formen. Dabei stellt das Unternehmen alle notwendigen Dienstleistungen zur Lösungsfindung  bereit: von der klassischen Marktforschung über Ideenwettbewerbe und -Management, Lead User Ansätze, die Arbeit mit Communities, spezialisierte IT-Konzepte bis zum Industrial Design.

Nach einer Vielzahl erfolgreicher Projekte für und mit internationalen Partnern aller Branchen verfügt HYVE über einen enormen Erfahrungsschatz und umfassende Kenntnis der besten Methoden zur Unterstützung des Innovationsmanagements. Unternehmen, die für aktuelle oder zukünftige Projekte auf wirklich kompetente Unterstützung zurückgreifen wollen, finden in HYVE einen hervorragenden Ansprechpartner.

Community_researchRinge

HYVE und viele weitere spannende Aussteller präsentieren sich auf der MC2012. Mehr zu Ausstellung, Workshop und Konferenz auf der offiziellen Konferenzwebsite.

18 06, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 7): Proper Cloth: Custom Dress Shirts the Easy (and Affordable) Way

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:01+00:00 Juni 18th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Clothing, MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Also, just in case you somehow missed it, the MC2012, largest MC/OI conference in German language, will be heading off soon (28th/29th of june). So if you are going to be in the area, understand German and want to meet some really interesting MC/OI enthusiasts, the conference website has all the information you need. Would be glad to see you there in person!

Today: Dress Yourself with the Latest Fashion, Decide What is "in Fashion" Yourself

As I said in my last MC500 Post about Mission Bicycle, summer – if that's what you want to call it – has finally arrived in Germany. While (unfortunately) this does not mean that work would magically finish itself, at least one gets a chance to spend the evening outdoors (sometimes), may it be sitting on the terrace of a nice restaurant or taking a walk in the park.

Whether it will be the office or the park for you, what always comes in handy is a well-tailored, perfectly fitting dress shirt. While each of you will have a different idea of what "perfectly fitting" means, one place might have you covered for all your individual shirt needs.

Proper Cloth, founded in Delaware in 2008, offers a pretty complete customization experience when it comes to dress shirts, a fashion article which, as many of you will agree, tends to just not fit perfectly at some point or another. Proper Cloth's promiss is exactly that, a perfectly fitting shirt, tailored to your needs, based on a really well-made configurator which even shines where others lack by offering assistance in finding out your individual measures in various ways. Oh and, if configurators should not be your thing (unlikely as that is, seeing how you are visiting this website), they offer a variety of preconfigured shirt as well.

So whether you need a new shirt to wear with your favorite suit or a stylish untucked one for leasure, a visit at propercloth.com might be worth it for you.

Propercloth

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.

18 06, 2012

MC2012 Exhibitor Preview: Mein Kuscheltier-Tagebuch: Heartwarming Individualized Children’s Books, The Adventures of Your Favorite Pet

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:04+00:00 Juni 18th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Deutsch (in German), Events, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

MC 2012 banner compactDid you already book your ticket for this year's edition of the MC2012, the upcoming German language conference on mass customization and co-creation? I am looking forward to meeting you again (or for the first time, respectively).  To help you pass the time until the conference heads off on June 28th, here is another little preview on one of our exhibitors.

Since the conference will be entirely in German language, so will be this post.

 

Mein Kuscheltier-Tagebuch: Spielend lernen mit wunderschönen Geschichten

Neben der eigentlichen Konferenz und dem Expertenworkshop bietet die MC-Conference Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, ihre innovativen Konzepte einer breiten Fachöffentlichkeit zu präsentieren. In den Räumlichkeiten der FH Salzburg stehen dafür großzügige Räumlichkeiten zur Verfügung, in denen wir auch in diesem Jahr wieder eine Reihe interessanter Aussteller begrüßen dürfen.

Für alle, die kleine (Enkel-/Paten-/Adoptiv-…)Kinder haben, gibt es 2012 eine besondere Empfehlung. Die Pariser Agentur Typlume & Graphine bietet mit dem Projekt "Mein Kuscheltier-Tagebuch" allen Kindern die Möglichkeit, ihr allerliebstes Kuscheltier in lustigen Geschichten allerlei Abenteuer erleben zu lassen. So wird die Gutenachtgeschichte – mit dem Kuscheltier fest im Arm – zu einem ganz besonderen Erlebnis.

Eltern und alle, die mal wieder auf der Suche nach einem ausgefallenen Geschenk für die lieben Kleinen sind, können auf der Projektwebsite in einfachen Schritten ihr Wunschbuch konfigurieren. Neben dem Vornamen des/der zu Beschenkenden, einer persönlichen Widmung und dem Namen des Lieblingstieres (optional) werden dazu nur drei Fotos des plüschigen Spielkameraden benötigt.

Nach Abschicken der Bestellung wird das zuvor ausgewählte Buch individualisiert. Dabei werden neben dem Namen auch die hochgeladenen Bilder integriert und durch schön umgesetzte Photomontage in die Geschichte eingefügt. Das Ergebnis ist ein hochwertiges Buch zum Blättern, Vorlesen und Immerwiederanschauen, mit dem jüngere Kinder, je nach gewähltem Thema, spielerisch die Tierwelt, die Natur, den Bauernhof, die Pariser Innenstadt und viele weitere Motive kennenlernt.

Copyright Typlume & Graphine, www.mein-kuscheltier-tagebuch.com, all rights reserved!

Click to enlarge!

Alle Bücher können vor der Bestellung online durchgeblättert werden, für die sichere Abwicklung der Transaktion steht PayPal als Zahlungsweg zur Verfügung. Und um das Warten auf das persönliche Kuscheltiertagebuch etwas zu verkürzen, stehen auf der Website viele schöne Tiermotive zum kostenlosen Ausdrucken und Ausmalen bereit.

Mein Kuscheltier-Tagebuch und viele weitere spannende Aussteller präsentieren sich auf der MC2012. Mehr zu Ausstellung, Workshop und Konferenz auf der offiziellen Konferenzwebsite.

15 06, 2012

MC2012 Exhibitor Preview: UnserAller: Taking Care of Your Crowdsourcing Endeavors

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:11+00:00 Juni 15th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Events, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

MC 2012 banner compactDid you already book your ticket for this year's edition of the MC2012, the upcoming German language conference on mass customization and co-creation? I am looking forward to meeting you again (or for the first time, respectively).  To help you pass the time until the conference heads off on June 28th, here is another little preview on one of our exhibitors.

Since the conference will be entirely in German language, so will be this post.

 

UnserAller: Crowdsourcing für alle

Neben der eigentlichen Konferenz und dem Expertenworkshop bietet die MC-Conference Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, ihre innovativen Konzepte einer breiten Fachöffentlichkeit zu präsentieren. In den Räumlichkeiten der FH Salzburg stehen dafür großzügige Räumlichkeiten zur Verfügung, in denen wir auch in diesem Jahr wieder eine Reihe interessanter Aussteller begrüßen dürfen.

Unseraller_logo_colorFür alle, die zur Unterstützung ihrer Innovationsarbeit auf Co-Creation, also die Integration potenzieller Kunden und anderer Interessierter in die eigene Entwicklungstätigkeit setzen, haben wir in diesem Jahr einen ganz besonders interessanten Tipp: die Crowdsourcing-Experten von UnserAller. 

Dass Crowdsourcing ein enormes Potenzial hat, nicht nur neue Käufer auf die eigenen Produkte aufmerksam zu machen, sondern auch die richtigen Produkte richtig - also Zielgruppenkonform – zu entwickeln, ist mittlerweile kein Geheimnis mehr. Weltmarktführer der verschiedensten Branchen haben die Chancen erkannt und betreiben teils enormen Aufwand um diejenigen in die Produktentwicklung einzubinden, die ihre Wünsche letztlich besser kennen als jeder Marktforscher: die Kunden selbst. 

Aber auch mit kleinem Budget lassen sich durch Crowdsourcing messbare, die Erwartungen oft um ein Vielfaches übertreffende Ergebnisse erzielen. Vorausgesetzt, man weiß, wie es richtig geht. 

Ein Kernaspekt beim Einstieg in die Welt des Crowdsourcing ist die Etablierung eines geeigneten Kommunikationskanals zur "Crowd". Diesen zu konzipieren, softwareseitig zu entwickeln und zu betreuen erfordert Expertenwissen, Erfahrung und Ressourcen und ist eine der größten Hürden die es auf dem Weg zu offener Innovation zu überwinden gilt. 

Copyright Innosabi GmbH, www.innosabi.de, all rights reserved!

Click to enlarge!

Für alle, die nicht über eine eigene Marketingabteilung mit entsprechenden Fachkenntnissen verfügen, bietet die Münchener Agentur Innosabi eine spezielle Plattform, die mit einem Rundum-Sorglos-Paket die realisierung individueller Crowdsourcing-Projekte unterstützt: UnserAller.de

Unternehmen jeder Größe können nach Buchung eines auf ihre individuellen Anforderungen passenden Paketes konkrete Produkte zur Diskussion stellen oder Vorgaben machen, nach denen die Community (mit ca. 15.000 Mitgliedern eine der Großen in Deutschland) Vorschläge und Wünsche zu Neuentwicklungen äußern kann.

Die technische Umsetzung ist dabei angenehm einfach und übersichtlich gestaltet. Je nach gewähltem Leistungsumfang kann sie in die eigene Website, Facebook-Präsenz oder die UnserAller-Community eingebunden werden, können Marketingmaterialien bestellt oder eine besonders prominente Projektpräsentation ausgewählt werden.

Produkte, die in Zusammenarbeit mit der UnserAller-Community entwickelt wurden, können auf Wunsch im eigenen Onlineshop zum Kauf angeboten werden. Darüber hinaus bietet Innosabi auch eine individuelle Projektberatung, ein Angebot, von dem besonders solche Unternehmen profitieren können, die Crowdsourcing bisher noch nicht (intensiv) genutzt haben.

Copyright Innosabi GmbH, www.innosabi.de, all rights reserved!

Click to enlarge!

Für die (Käufer)Community bieten sich ebenfalls interessante Anreize zur Mitarbeit: konstruktive Beiträge, Verbesserungs- und Produktvorschläge werden über ein Punktesystem honoriert, Punkte lassen sich beispielsweise beim Einkauf im UnserAller-Shop in Rabatte umsetzen. 

Ein interessanter Ansatz ist auch das Vorschlagsportal, über das jeder Interessierte neue spannende Projekte vorschlagen kann. Wer sich also immer schon gwundert hat, wieso es ein bestimmtes Produkt noch nicht gibt, kann hier zum Erfinder werden.  

 Innosabi informiert auf dem eigenen und dem UnserAller-Blog regelmäßig über neue Projete und interessante Trends aus der Welt der Co-Creation. Mehr Informationen über die UnserAller-Plattform finden sich auch auf in der FAQ-Sektion der Projektwebsite.

Innosabi, die Köpfe hinter UnserAller, und viele weitere spannende Aussteller präsentieren sich auf der MC2012. Mehr zu Ausstellung, Workshop und Konferenz auf der offiziellen Konferenzwebsite.