Featured Research: Open Innovation in the German Automobile Industry

Copyright Ili Consulting, www.ili-consulting.de, all rights reserved!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.

 

Copyright Ili Consulting, www.ili-consulting.de, all rights reserved!

Comparison chart of manager's answers from the 2009 and 2012 iterations of the study. Clear shift towards open innovation

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").

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.