Crowdsourcing to Spot Future Trends and Help Mobile Phone Giant to Stay Relevant

Published Feb-04-13

Multinational mobile phone corporation creates a sophisticated crowdsourcing initiative to help it to innovate.

Nokia Corporation, Finland

The Story:

Crowdsourcing to Spot Future Trends and Help Mobile Phone Giant to Stay Relevant Staying ahead of the curve requires companies to envisage more than just what the future will look like. If they are involved in innovation they must foresee how they will design and define that future. But, predicting what will happen next in any degree of detail is not an exact science and projections can fall wide of the mark.

To improve the accuracy of their forecasts some business leaders are turning to the crowd in addition to or instead of paid analysts and industry experts.

Project Relevance

This was a mind-set adopted by Nokia when it embarked on a research program called Project Relevance, aimed at securing relevance for the brand in the upper end of the smartphone market in North America.

The move was prompted by company research into the brand’s performance that revealed that consumers were 1) less aware of Nokia’s high-end offerings in North America and 2) the products weren't causing as much ‘relevance’ or delight in user experience.

The mobile phone giant engaged Face, a co-creation planning agency, to help it develop future consumer driven product propositions and re-work its strategic innovation principles. The brief involved uncovering hacks that consumers employ to make their mobile use more ‘relevant’ and to co-create with customers.

To gain an understanding of user experience the project kicked off with a two-week social media monitoring and trends analysis program that studied social media sites, blogs, news sites, video and photo sharing sites. This garnered more than a million pieces of content that were analysed to identify key themes and topics. More than twenty five were identified which were further whittled down to ten that Nokia wanted to explore further.

Selecting an Innovation Community

The next stage was to select an innovation community. Following a meticulous and exacting selection process that involved telephone and face-to-face interviews and other screening methods, 16 high tech savvy adults were identified. They were all extremely knowledgeable about interacting with digital and mobile technologies, and using them in unusual ways to meet their needs. They were joined by nine Nokia stakeholders to work together on how to stake the corporation’s claim on the future.

The 25 co-creators were split into three groups – consumers, client stakeholders and experts – and given a number of themes to explore to understand how they touch our lives and to detect opportunities for novel smartphone applications.

Their efforts resulted in a long list of needs (met, unmet, stated and unstated) that were further explored in a stakeholder workshop to produce a number of macro needs relevant to the North American market as well as micro needs.

Online Community Engagement

Then the project went online and a bespoke mobile community, MyFaceCommunity was asked for stories about those micro needs. They were then tasked with analyzing the stories to identify current experiences, actions and frustrations that could be used as a basis of consumer ideations.

Following some further analysis this community of 30 individuals generated over 450 different ideas. After editing and voting this number came down to nine that Nokia wanted to pursue.

Significant Results

The final part of this lengthy process was a co-creation project where consumers and Nokia worked together to design a range of solutions around Nokia’s key strategic principles. There were workshops, discussion groups and additional analysis which resulted in two solid concepts that were forwarded for development and a range of visions that were taken into the company’s concepting and design agenda.

Overall this engagement with a highly specialized section of the crowd resulted in more solid solutions, and better and faster results. It was also a landmark moment in Nokia’s innovation history as it demonstrated the benefits of working with consumers and treating them as partners.

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