Car Giant adopts Open Innovation to get into the Fast Lane
BMW's customer led open innovation competition to design the future of motoring for the next decade and beyond.
Car giant BMW has for a number of years now been reaching out to engineers and innovators with open innovation and crowd sourcing initiatives. The most recent incarnation of which has been its Co-Creation Lab, a virtual meeting place for anybody interested in motoring who wants to share ideas and opinions about the future of automotive technology with one of the world’s leading car manufacturers.
BMW is just one of an ever increasing number of companies who realise that they can’t innovate entirely on their own and therefore view collaboration with external sources such as suppliers, customers and various interested parties as a vital key to success. Not only can this approach lead to new products, but it can speed up processes and reduce costs and market time.
Open Innovation Contest
The first open innovation initiative to spin out of the Co-Creation Lab was the BMW Group Idea Contest, "Tomorrow's Urban Mobility Services" which sought innovative ideas for mobility services in cities and metropolitan areas in the future. It was launched in March 2010 and participants were asked to come up with ideas in six different categories:
• Mobility in General
• Electric Cars
• Networks and Communications
During the six weeks that the competition was open a total of 497 users published around 300 ideas which were assessed and appraised by more than 1000 people spread across the globe - although the final decision on the winners rested with the jury.
Top Three Winners
The overall winner was Venugopal Panicker from India who invented a concept called PMUP (Pick Me Up). It’s a mobility system for pedestrians that uses trip cards installed in cell phones as well as in car computers to allow communication between drivers and pedestrians. The runner up was Pedro Isusi from Spain with his park-sharing programme and third place went to Stefanie Mainwaring from the USA for a concept that informs drivers of available parking spaces via GPS signals.
At the conclusion of the contest BMW’s Jörg Reimann reaffirmed his company’s belief in the value of open innovation:
“Each time we launch such an initiative we remain impressed by the creative potential. This contest showed once more, how important it is to integrate external sources into the development of new services and innovations. The generated ideas added innovative and valuable input to the topics we are already working on and confirmed us that the overall direction we are following leads into the right direction. We are eager to further pursue the generated ideas and establish fascinating mobility services for tomorrow’s world.”
Getting customers to help create products and services is being witnessed more and more and holds a tantalising promise of boosting and enhancing product development. People are more than willing to share their thoughts, opinions, advice and ideas over the Internet and companies can capitalise on this to enhance their offerings, improve their relations with existing customers and find new ones.
The biggest brains don’t necessarily work for your company; they may be sitting by their computer thousands of miles away ready to help you out.
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