Monday, June 3, 2013

The Market for Open Innovation – OIA Study 2013: Key Results

When dealing with Open Innovation (OI), organizations are tasked with creating an internal ecosystem that enables profiting from external input, efficiently and effectively. Professional assistance is offered by intermediaries, consultancies, and agencies that help their clients accelerate an open innovation project by providing dedicated tools, methods, and more. These agencies are referred to as Open Innovation Accelerators (OIA).
A 2013 study of OIA, performed by Kathleen Diener & Frank Piller, School of Business and Economics, RWTH Aachen University, shows fascinating and eye-opening results that I think you may find interesting. For the full picture, refer to The Market for Open Innovation: The 2013 RWTH Open Innovation Accelerator Survey. By Kathleen Diener & Frank Piller, 2nd edition, May 2013. Lulu Publishing: Raleigh, USA (available via  The study reached out to 160 providers of (inbound) open innovation services to participate in a 90 minute survey investigating the OIA’s business model, environment, productivity, services, project specifics, and characteristics of their participant pool. It also asked about estimates for the development of the open innovation market. Of the 160 OIAs, 59 provided a complete data set. Secondary data sources were used for the remaining OIAs. 
Key Findings
  • The market for open innovation is maturing
  • Ideation contests are seen as the most promising open innovation format
  • OIAs increasingly reach out to functions beyond new product development
  • Approximately 20% of the 2010 OIAs do not exist in 2013, due to closures, acquisitions, and mergers
  • The average cost for an OI project with an OIA is €43,000.
  • Selecting the right OIA depends on the expected outcome and the preferred degree of outsourcing the OI function to the OIA
  • From a client perspective, software plays an essential part of any open innovation venture and OIAs build on community involvement
You can find out more at

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What is Product Innovation?

Product innovation can be defined as the creation of new or improved goods or services and their introduction to the marketplace. For more information about the definition of product innovation, click product innovation. After numerous requests to define what product innovation means to me, I have attempted to highlight the main aspects of the definition in this post.

For the more graphic-oriented people, the following illustration captures the essence of what product innovation is about for me:

An idea, even a very very good and new idea is almost always not enough. The most common mistake made by brilliant people with brilliant ideas has to do with realization of an idea into a product or service – without which, no products are born… An essential part of product innovation is creation. Not only of a new idea from a bunch of neurons pulsing around in your brain, but also of a tangible or useable object from that idea. This is the hardest and most innovation-demanding element of product innovation and it is also, unfortunately, the graveyard of most ideas. After creating an idea and a product or service, the next aspect is one where often the more stubborn and unrelenting of people tend to succeed more than others and that’s bringing the product to market. If a product isn’t marketed well, it dies. Plain and simple. If a product is marketed well, even if the product isn’t necessarily the best product in the marketplace, it breathes, kicks, and thrives, and product innovation lives on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Call CC

Call CC is a new product idea that was born when my colleague at work was reprimanded by our boss that he’d like to be CCed on all correspondence with a certain client. My colleague mentioned the fact that the recent correspondence was on the phone and not e-mail so as much as she’d like to have CCed him, it wasn’t possible. And crack! A new idea is hatched.
Product Innovation - Using Call CC

Call CC would be an app that would need to be installed on your smart phone and possibly on the receiver’s and CCed people’s smart phones. If Call CC is only installed on your phone, when making a phone call through the Call CC app, you would be able to CC additional contacts in your phone. The person receiving the phone call would be notified that the incoming call has additional people CCed on it and that person would be able to choose whether to answer the call or not. If the person answers, at the end of the conversation, the people who were CCed would be notified via SMS or e-mail of the following:
  • That person X called person Y
  • The time of the call
  • The duration of the call
  • All the CCed people on the call
If Call CC is installed on your phone and on the CCed people’s phones, when making a phone call through the Call CC app, the CCed people would receive an incoming phone call that would state that they are being CCed on a call from you to the person you are calling. These CCed people would be able to accept the CCed phone call and listen to the conversation (and perhaps even take part). The person who you called would be notified that the incoming call has additional people CCed on it and that they will be participating in the phone call (similar to a conference call). That person would be able to choose whether to answer the call or not. If the person answers, at the end of the conversation, the people who were CCed would be notified via SMS of the same information as before, with the addition of a list of the CCed people who participated or listened in on the phone call.
Call CC could also be developed to provide a transcript or recording of the phone call to the people CCed, to work with Skype, or with regular phones. In my opinion, BCC should also be included, on the condition that the person receiving the phone call is informed that people are BCCed on the phone call. This way, even though the identities of the BCCed people are not provided, the person receiving the call would be able to make a decision on whether or not to answer the phone knowing that some people (who are unknown to the receiver) may be listening to the call.
In today’s hi-speed, hi-tech, ultra-transparent business world, Call CC would provide a valuable time-saving resource for millions of people. Call CC is a new idea that could reinvent how we communicate with each other in the business world and would increase the faith our managers have in our competence. It would also enable our managers to constantly be in the loop on our projects and save us having to constantly provide tedious status reports. The business advantages offered to the telemarketing world are beyond reckoning.
Frankly, since there’s not much difference to the CC and BCC functionality on e-mails, you may be wondering about the actual product innovation of this idea. Well, it’s in the way that Call CC applies one tried and tested method to a different medium, that of verbal communication rather than written communication.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Product Innovation Toolbar

You can download my Product Innovation toolbar here:
Please feel free to let me know what sort of information you would like to see on the toolbar and if you find it useful at all.

The Product Innovation toolbar:
Links to this blog
Enables searching the Product Innovation blog for ideas
Enables searching in Google
Lets you add anything to your Amazon wishlist
Access Twitter
Access Gmail

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Super Mouse

When I’m working, I hate having to slow down to wait for my computer to do things or to transfer files from one computer to another. I just don’t understand how in this day and age, computers and their peripherals aren’t more efficient! As it happens I work from a laptop and a desktop. The desktop is connected to the office network and the laptop isn’t. All I want to be able to do is to use one mouse to work on my computers – I want to be able to copy a file from my desktop and paste it to my laptop. When working from one computer, this is accomplished via the clipboard.
New idea, Mighty Mouse, Speedy Gonzales, Mickey Mouse, Jerry, Super Mouse

So what do Mighty Mouse, Speedy Gonzales, Mickey Mouse and Jerry have in common? They’re all super mice that do special things. So with such obvious role models, why is the common PC mouse so dull?

Super Mouse is a new idea for a Bluetooth mouse with its own clipboard. The clipboard can even be removable (USB memory stick) and able to store everything you copy to it for later use. Super Mouse also enables using your own memory stick which has information already on it for use as you see fit in your workspace. Super Mouse is basically a Bluetooth mouse that requests permission to pair with multiple components (e.g., a computer, a laptop, and a smartphone). For more information about Bluetooth technology limitations, such as transfer rates, maximum connections, and so on, see After the pairing, moving from one component to another can be achieved either by moving the mouse off one screen and onto another, or by clicking both buttons together and moving the mouse downwards. Although there are similar solutions out there that enable you to share a mouse cursor across different computers in your workspace (e.g.,, Super Mouse lets you truly take control of your workspace and save valuable time. 

Since Super Mouse is based on existing technologies, it shouldn’t be too expensive to manufacture. Also, since mice are already common PC peripherals, finding outlets to market Super Mouse will be a breeze. In my opinion, the Super Mouse is the embodiment of product innovation – a new idea for one of the most common products in the market.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Measure Mate

Ever wondered how far away that mountain is from you, or that building, or what the distance is between you and that tree, or that car in front of you? With Measure Mate, your speculations need no longer lead you astray. This new idea, based on a new product, takes the form of an app for future smart phones with 3D cameras. It’s only a matter of time before smart phones are equipped with 3D camera (2 lenses) functionality and that’s when this new app idea gains credence. Measure Mate is a distance measuring app, based on triangulation calculations, rather than echo or laser techniques. Triangulation means calculating all the sides and angles in a network of triangles based on the length of at least one side of a triangle. Therefore, the precise measurement of the length of a single baseline can determine the scale of an entire triangulation network. In other words, if you take a picture of a tree with 2 cameras placed exactly 5 cm apart (or any other distance), you can calculate the exact distance to the tree in the pictures. Triangulation is not a new technique, astronomers have been using it for years to calculate distances to stellar objects (see parallax), and neither is stereoscopic imaging for creating the illusion of depth in 2D images a new idea (see stereoscopy). But Measure Mate is. Once smart phones include 3D cameras, the exact length of the first side of the triangle becomes a constant. 
This is how it works:
  1. You take a picture with Measure Mate (which is really two pictures: one from each lens).
  2. Measure Mate superimposes the images one atop the other to create a new picture.
  3. You select an object to which you want to know the distance in the new picture.
  4. Measure Mate triangulates the distance to the object based on the distance between the two lenses.
You can read more about the necessary calculations here.

Measure Mate should be extremely cheap and easy to program – all the formulas already exist and all the technological concepts already exists. The most expensive budget item would probably be copyright protection for the app. I also think the potential market for Measure Mate is virtually limitless, from civilian to military markets, who wouldn’t pay just a few dollars for this piece of product innovation? Or forget about selling it, make it a free app and capitalize from advertising.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Product Innovation Tips

Due to the many requests I have received for information on getting a patent for a new product innovation, I would like to address some of your more frequently asked questions on patenting a new product, making a new product, and selling a new product or patent.

product innovation, patent, new idea, patent lawyer

In order to get a patent for your new product, the two most important things you should do are keep silent about it and seek the advice of a good patent lawyer. You should tell absolutely nobody about your new idea except for a patent lawyer. Patent lawyers are accustomed to writing patents and they know how to do so in order to offer you the best protection for your new idea. They are also very proficient at searching patent databases to make sure that your idea is indeed patentable. Since the underlying rationale of patenting your product is protection, the better your patent application is written, the better the protection it offers once it is accepted. For your first meeting with a patent lawyer, you should be well prepared – you should be able to describe your new idea fluently. It helps to have something in writing and as many illustrations as possible that describe the new product. It helps even more to have a working prototype. When creating a prototype, many issues with the product may arise that would need to be dealt with before finalizing the patent. In other words, you wouldn't want your patent to describe a product that is different to the one you created. A working prototype is also very useful when selling the product or patent. However, all this has an unfortunately hefty price tag. You can save money by performing extensive online searches yourself, both at the United States Patent and Trading Office (USPTO) databases and using the leading search engines. For example, if you find that your product idea already exists, you won’t be able to patent it and it’s better that you find this out for yourself rather than pay a patent lawyer to do it for you.

product innovation, da vinci, patent illustration

Once you have submitted your patent application to the USPTO, your patent’s status is patent pending. Assuming the patent application is accepted, the registration date of the patent, or when your patent protection begins, is from the patent application submission date. During this time, you can share your new idea with other people without worrying about them copying it. If all you have are diagrams, this would be a good time to approach an engineer and begin manufacturing a prototype. If you are interested in creating a working prototype before submitting the patent application and you are unable to do it alone, make sure you have a good, signed, Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before sharing your idea with the manufacturer. An NDA is basically a contract between you and someone else that states that the information you share with them is confidential and if they share that information with a third party they will be held liable.

product innovation, marketing, money

At last, the time has come to try and make some money from your patent. If you want mass produce the product yourself, by this stage you would probably be in need of cash and this would be a good time to approach potential investors. If an investor believes in your idea and chooses to give you money, this will be in return for a percentage of the product’s ownership. The more advanced the product is in its development, the less ownership can be claimed by the investor. You would then need to procure the services of a manufacturer that is willing and able to manufacture your product at a reasonable rate. Next, you could approach retailers that sell similar products and see if they are interested to sell your product. If they are, they would be ordering quantities of the product from you, which you would then order from the manufacturer and deliver to them. In this case, you would be a wholesaler (not a retailer). You could also open a shop front or an Internet site to distribute your product (in which case you would be a retailer as well). Another way to go about making money from your patented product is by selling the patent rights to a company that already manufactures something similar. The more proven demand there is for your product, the more money your patent will be worth.

Sometimes pure luck determines the success of your new product but more often than not it is your determination. If you have a new idea that you believe in and pursue, you’re on the right track. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process and believe in your product innovation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who's That App

This is a new idea for a smartphone application and is based on some already existing technologies for searching the web with pictures rather than keywords. Who’s That App would enable you to take a picture of someone you know or want to know better with your smartphone and would search the web for any matches based on face recognition software. Imagine being at a bar and falling head over heels for someone. You could either approach him or her and try get a phone number or email address or you could ask around if anyone you know knows that person. Who’s That App would provide another option - take a picture of the person and get to know him or her a little better through a Facebook page or anywhere else that person’s picture appears. Who’s That App would enable you to be more informed about the person you wish to approach. Dating and matchmaking services aside, Who’s That App is definitely something I’d like to have on my phone, simply because I hate seeing people in the street that I recognize and should remember their names but never do… Who’s That App would appeal to a very wide target audience and shouldn’t be all that expensive to develop considering the fact that it’s based on already existing picture search engines and facial recognition software. It should just be a matter of knitting them together – which is the new idea here – and developing an easy-to-use yet awesome graphic user interface.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Drill Clean

This is one of those creative ideas you can only have when dealing with art. When I needed to hang up a picture above the TV at my wife’s request, it took me about six months because I was too busy thinking about how to move or cover my 42 inch LCD TV so that all the dust and bits of wall wouldn’t go into all its sensitive spots. The picture now has a new cozy home, above the sofa. However, during those six months, I came up with Drill Clean – a scrap collecting drill attachment that would fit onto any handheld drill and collect all the rubbish produced when drilling. Drill Clean is basically a transparent cylinder shaped piece of plastic, made of two telescopic segments with a spring between them, which attaches to the business end of a drill. When you drill a hole in any vertical surface, all the scrap would be collected in the cylinder rather than fall on your TV, floor, bed, and so on. Drill Clean would be adjustable, so as to fit any type of drill with any type of drill bit attached – and be flush with the end of the drill bit. This, together with the plastic's transparency, would enable you to precisely position the drill to the wall and ensure that the hole is made exactly where you wanted it to be made, mess free.

An additional feature of this idea could be an incremental locking mechanism on the telescopic cylinder to provide depth gauging. This would add another dimension of precision to your work. The inner part of the telescopic cone would have incremental markings etched into it at every millimeter and the locking mechanism would enable you to lock the telescopic function of the cylinder at a desired depth, for example, 25 mm. In other words, after locking Drill Clean at 25 mm, when a hole is drilled, the cylinder would stop retracting at precisely 25 mm, ensuring that your new hole is 25 mm deep.

The basic concept behind Drill Clean is to make Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home improvement work easier, faster, and cleaner. Consequently, this is how Drill Clean should be marketed. Speaking as a frequent DIY home improvement perpetrator, and as a bit of a lazy bastard who prefers beer over work, I am constantly looking for ways to make such work consume less effort, less time, and less mess. So do I prefer creative ideas over creative work? No – as long as the work is efficient. Drill Clean would make my life and many other DIYers' lives easier and probably at very little cost. Since Drill Clean is made up of very few and relatively cheap parts, and has little mechanics to it, it would be ridiculously cheap to manufacture and hence market. I would definitely pay anywhere from 20 to 40 bucks for this and be extremely pleased with my purchase. I think that a patent should be attempted first, even with its associated high costs, and then it's either on to mass manufacturing and marketing or to selling the patent to a leading handheld drill manufacturer (such as Makita, DeWalt, Black & Decker) who are always looking for new creative ideas for their products.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This new product is in the form of a website that lists and rates products that you bought according to a predefined set of criteria. I envisage the website as a tool that people would be able to use in order to make smarter purchases. If I wanted to buy a new watch for example, I would be able to search the BlackList website and if the watch didn't appear there, I'd be a little more confident in my future purchase. This obviously wouldn't replace conventional product reviews, which are essential for making well-informed smarter purchases, but it would complement them. BlackList would save you the hassle of searching for that not-so-positive product review that can be so informative and is usually buried under numerous positive reviews. As a person who has made many a bad purchase, I started looking for such a site and was surprised to find absolutely no such thing. Not even one! The closest thing I found was in a ChinaDaily article claiming that the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology plans to "draw up a blacklist displaying the names of those firms breaching quality-related regulations" (click here to view the article).

Sometimes, purchasing a dud product can be so unequivocally frustrating that all you want to do is make sure 'they' (the product's manufacturer) suffer. Other times, when you're in a more positive and sane state of mind, it's just bloody annoying. Either way, with BlackList, you could make a difference. BlackList would be beneficial to us consumers for many reasons, including:
  • Helping other people avoid the unfortunate experience of purchasing a dud.
  • Improving consumer awareness.
  • Rewarding good products that don't appear on the website.
  • Punishing bad products that do appear on the website by sharing our experiences and preventing others from making similar purchases.
  • Knowledge sharing for more a more enlightened society.
  • And punishing those bad products again.
Due to the legal problems associated with public badmouthing, the BlackList's product rating and listing system would need to be automated so as not to make the website owner liable for the blacklist in any way. For example, entering a new product in the site would open a form with the following fields: Manufacturer, Product name and model, Primary reason for blacklisting (dead on arrival, does not work as advertised, breaks down every day/week/month, requires constant servicing, no customer support, no spare parts, appears to be used, and so on), Secondary reason for blacklisting (same as above), Other (short free text), Get it off your chest (free text describing your experience). Each field would then be assigned a score out of 10, for example, Primary reason for blacklisting – dead on arrival = 10; Primary reason for blacklisting – breaks down every day = 9; Secondary reason for blacklisting – any = 1. When a final score is calculated, the website's database would be searched for the same product, according to manufacturer and product name and model, and would be added to the grand total. The 100 highest scoring products would then be listed on the blacklist. A further precaution could be added to only list products with over a certain number of entries. A disclaimer could be included in the form stating that the person filling out the form is solely responsible for the information contained therein and to the accuracy of that information.

When buying a new product, check the BlackList first. I know I would. Marketing wouldn't be a problem once a large enough online community makes use of BlackList. Manufacturers that don't appear on BlackList would be more than happy to use this as an advertising gimmick. Even those that do appear on the list could use that information as a wake-up call for improving. Proven steps taken by companies on the blacklist to alleviate their products' problems could even be used a tool to remove them from the site, or at least scale down their products' prominence on BlackList. It would be a great day indeed when one of my new ideas or new product innovations makes it onto or off BlackList!
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