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Let the Users Take the Lead, HBR May 2005

Read this interview with Eric von Hippel, the head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group and a professor of management and innovation entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. One of the core findings from Hippel’s research is that companies seeking innovative ideas should tap into lead users–customers on the cutting edge who often come up with creative ways to solve problems by either creating new solutions or adapting existing products and services in surprising ways. His latest book, Democratizing Innovation, describes how user communities have the potential to reshape the processes of innovation.

http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/emailfriend.jhtml?productID=S0505E

Harnessing the Power of the Customer
HBR, May 2004

In the renewed pursuit of growth through innovation, companies should look at their customers as partners in creating and building value. Consumers today have near-instant access to all the information they need on virtually any product. Moreover, they are using this information to influence product development–as individuals and, more importantly, through user communities and review groups that wield increasing influence over the market’s perceptions. Organizations that can effectively harness the burgeoning power of the consumer to help shape their own products and services, argue C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, authors of The Future of Competition, are the ones that will dominate.

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