German cars are the best in the world. While I can see this statement instantly being challenged by some, the international reputation of and demand for German cars, especially in the high price segment is pretty high.
A brand new study by German innovation expert Ili Consulting shows that the advantages of open innovation have been understood by managers of German car manufacturers and their suppliers.
While companies like BMW, Audi, or Daimler have been forrunners in customer co-creaton via ideation contests, I did not see much OI on the technical level in German Big Auto.
This 2012 edition of the study "Open Innovation in der Automobilindustrie" is the second iteration after a similar survey in 2009. Comparison impressively shows that more and more of the asked managers on the middle, higher and top level follow the trend to get their company's research from a closed to an open one, thereby laying grounds for the harvest of the great innovation potential that the crowd of consumers is.
As has been said by many participating mangers, highly innovative ideas are short in supply. These are, however, one of the most valuable goods a technology company can have, and also the most important advantage Germany has on the international market.
The understanding that the old credo of "we have all the experts we need in house" no longer works in todays fast, interconnected markets and that flexibility and openness for external input, both for criticism and ideas, is crucial to mission success, has finally gotten a solid foothold in headquarters of majors and SMEs alike.
Open innovation is, however, not as easy as putting a website up, asking for ideas. There is much more to it to successfully tap into the wisdom reservoir of the crowd, and without competent guidance by experienced innovation consultants, opening oneself's knowledge stock up to the masses can be a risky venture.
For those of you engaged in businesses where your market share and revenues depend on technological advantage and satisfied customers (not only car-industry specific), the study may hold some very interesing findings regarding the market, the progress from open to closed innovation, sources of innovation and their rating by practitioners as well as actual obstacles one will face when opening innovation.
The study can be obtained by contacting Ili Consulting directly. For contact information please refer to the contact section of their homepage (while writing about open innovation,, they were not open enough to provide the study as "open access").