Crystal Clear Advantages of Open Innovation

Published Mar-21-11

Open innovation watch design contest organized by Swarovski, the cut crystal and luxury products company.

Swarovski, Austria

The Story:

Crystal Clear Advantages of Open Innovation These days companies are tapping into an almost bottomless well of ideas; consumer creativity. Traditional business models are being tweaked and amended to favor user-generated content and open innovation applications and platforms.

You can see the fruits of these approaches in products and services marketed by giant multi-nationals such as Procter and Gamble, Intel, and Virgin Atlantic and many others are following their examples and experimenting with open innovation.

“There is a quiet revolution going on out there,” explained Dr. Johann Füller to one interviewer. The CEO of HYVE AG, a Munich-based innovation agency went on to say that “The internet’s consumer-centric culture puts tremendous power in the hands of users. Leading organizations are starting to leverage this power to build better solutions and boost their competitiveness.”

Open Innovation Watch Design Contest

Swarovski, a world leader in the production of cut crystal invited creative customers and designers from all over the world to enter its ENLIGHTENED watch design open innovation competition.

More than 1,600 participants from 48 different countries responded to the call and 2043 designs were submitted. From these 142 were selected and whittled down to a final 30. These were judged by a panel of industry experts headed by Swarovski family member Nadja Swarovski-Adams. Their evaluations were based on a number of criteria including: -

• Uniqueness of the idea
• Technical innovation
• Design creativity and source of inspiration
• Wear-ability
• Feasibility of producing a prototype

Top Prizes

The first prize of €3,000 (approx USD $4,200) was awarded to design student Eugen Dirksen of Germany for his “Julius” model. It has a sleek and attractive design of back-printed glass and leather and replaces the clock dial with precious stones. Oved Valadez of Portland, USA picked up the second place check of €2,000 (approx USD $2,800) for a bracelet watch design of gemstones, laser-etched treated leather and polished metal.

Open Innovation Infrastructure

The success of this open innovation contest was due in no small part to the online infrastructure created by HYVE AG. It fostered the creation of a virtual social network where ideas were given critical assessments by members of the crowd who could also vote for their favorite designs. Getting this part of an open innovation contest right is tricky, but it is of paramount importance, which is why many firms turn to open innovation brokers to facilitate the smooth running of their contests.

A vital element of open innovation competitions is the community spirit they foster. Whilst this may seem an intangible concept to put down on paper it helped to boost the creativity of many of the designers who took part in the Swarovski contest; they were encouraged by the constructive critiques and comments of other members.

Over time the interaction grew and the quality of the submission was not only due to the brilliance of some of the designers but also to the energy and dynamism that the community generated.

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