Monthly Archives: May 2009

Smith’s Chips introduces Open Innovation Competition for “the next great flavour”

As I was running on the treadmill this morning, I found myself watching a television advertisement for an Open Innovation competition from Smith’s Snack Foods  (in this country the equivalent of Frito-Lay – we all grew up with Smith’s! Indeed, Smith’s Snack Food is owned by PepsiCo). I find this an excellent example of Open Innovation – the contest is for any consumer to come up with the flavour for the next range of chips. There is about two months to go to submit a catch-phrase together with a “creative image”.

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What I really like about this venture from Smith’s is the following:

  • The competition is backed up by a very meaningful financial incentive – the winner gets $30,000 in cash PLUS 1% of the sales revenue of the brand. Very motivating.
  • The website design is excellent – smart, refreshing, web 2.0-like, and inviting. You are not disappointed when you land at the site.
  • The campaign is backed up by significant media advertising and exposure. Not only is there paid advertising, but tonight one of Australia’s most popular current affairs shows – A Current Affair –  is doing a segment on this campaign. So the marketeers at Smith’s are very smart – they are looking to get this campaign as much publicity as possible.
  • The top four flavors will be chosen by a panel of judges, and then these flavors will be put to the public for voting. Just excellent. A combination of seeking the solution to a problem from the consumer, and then involving the consumer in the voting process
  • Each week the twenty five most interesting entries will be posted for public discussion. This really will generate ongoing interest in the competition

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The ingredients for success (no pun intended) of this promotion are certainly there – Open Innovation, financial reward, clever marketing, ongoing excitement, crowd sourcing in the voting process – and even a pilot trial of the top four contenders.

I will certainly be watching the outcomes from this promotion with great interest.

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The Changing Role of the Legal Counsel in an Open Innovation and Collaborative Corporate Environment

The traditional role of the legal counsel in the Enterprise has been that of corporate guardian and IP protector. This has particularly been the case when R&D has been performed in-house, wholly within the closed walls of a corporation in an atmosphere of isolation, guarded secrecy and defensiveness. However Open Innovation, the revolutionary paradigm for the future of corporate innovation, requires an environment of openness and collaboration not only within a given organization, but also within the entire ecosystem in which the organization operates. Collaboration and the sharing of information, which result in innovation acceleration, are actively encouraged. Social networking and connectedness among the employees in an organization are rewarded between them and their counterparts in partner organizations and must be promoted.

How does this change in values impact on the role of the legal counsel, and how does it impact on the way information is managed, stored, accessed and shared in the enterprise? The hypothesis is that the legal counsel in an Open Innovation environment must become much more of an information facilitator rather than an information protector, and that governance frameworks to support Open Innovation must be established, underpinned by technology that delivers security and scale across the globalizing organization.

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Business Reinvention, Innovation and the Economy

In troubled economic times, it can seem that innovation should be the first thing to go. This is a mistake in my view – in tough times organizations need to embrace innovation and look even more closely at their product offerings and how they are addressing the market. What sold in yesterday’s market may not be what tomorrow’s market or even today’s market will buy. This has been borne out by what has happened at Fauchon, one of the landmarks in Paris’ shopping mecca. Have a look at this article from the New York Times. It says it all! “Amid a constantly shifting market at home and abroad, Fauchon’s rebranding campaign has helped it remain relevant and return to profitability. Its recipe for success is to remain ahead of its customers and continue to surprise them.”.

The real opportunity for Innovation, especially Open Innovation, is to make business-reinvention decisions by tapping into the organization’s ecosystem. Sitting in a closed boardroom, working out which product lines to cut or which division to close is old school – the smart companies will tap into their Open Innovation network to help provide these answers. This is the power of Open Innovation – bringing different lenses to a problem from inside and outside the organization to ensure that the decisions that are taken around re-invention are the best ones.

The New York Times has published a series of short articles by some luminaries on the value of Innovation in tough economic times. I found them interesting. Worth a read.

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Upcoming Open Innovation Conference at United Nations

The upcoming i2i conference at the United Nations on June 8 and 9 will focus on Open Innovation, collaboration and incentivized competition. Great line up of speakers. Keynote address by Ban Ki-moon. Here is the program.

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Excellent example of Innovation and Crowdsourcing

This is truly an excellent example of the intersection of Open Innovation, globalization and technology. I saw it in a SpringWise, a publication reporting on new business ideas. This is a new project that aims to bring income opportunities to those in the developing world using the ubiquitous mobile phone.

Targeting the more than 2 billion literate mobile phone subscribers in the developing world, txteagle aims to help alleviate high unemployment levels in many rural areas of countries like Kenya with a crowdsourcing approach that offers new ways to earn extra money. The service connects corporations with small tasks to be completed—currently, the most common ones include software localization and translation into local dialects for companies like Nokia—and native people who can complete them in minutes by cell phone. Tasks are sent to multiple phone users by text message—”translate the phrase, ‘address book’ into Giriama,” for example—and answers are accepted as accurate when the majority of users provide the same response. Compensation is determined by the number of times an individual’s response agrees with the consensus; penalties are imposed for wrong answers, while “don’t know” responses make no contribution. Over time the system learns a particular user’s expertise, and can actively select the most appropriate tasks for them. It can also weight answers from long-term and historically accurate users higher than others, making it necessary to involve fewer other individuals when those users respond. Payment is made either to a bank account connected with an individual’s phone number—accessible at any post office or local kiosk—or via airtime credit transfers.

Case Study

Ruth & Betty, Home-Maker / Village Phone Operator, Butare, Rwanda. Ruth is the mother of four and while she reads and writes English fluently, she hasn’t been able to find much work in her local village. She’d like to own a phone, but hasn’t been able to save up the money. Betty operates a village phone in Ruth’s village. By ‘renting’ the phone to Ruth for 50 cents/hour during off-peak times when Betty has no other customers, Ruth is able to complete 3 hours of transcription tasks – accumulating $7.50 into her savings account and $1.50 into Betty’s account. A couple of more sessions like that and Ruth will be able to afford her own phone!

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