Open Innovation to Future-Proof a Business Model
An open innovation project blends ideas and concepts from external sources and internal R&D teams to future-proof a business model.
In looking ahead to the future, Swiss-based company Valora realized that one of its business wings could soon run into trouble. The company operates the majority of kiosks (called “k kiosks” in Switzerland), small-space retail outlets selling newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, candies and drinks. But hovering just around the corner were a number of possible threats to its kiosk business model. These included:
• Declining sales of print media as people view papers and magazines online.
• Increased legislation for cigarettes.
• Declining sales of sugary items because of the promotion of healthier lifestyles.
Send in the Crowd
After an intense period of internal discussions and workshops about how to face down these threats, Valora decided to involve the crowd to help it come up with the “Kiosk of the Future”. Working with an innovation intermediary the company launched a multi-phase crowdsourcing project. In part this was to gain experience of an external-facing idea generation process as well as to receive concepts that may not have come up internally. The primary aim was to develop a kiosk concept that could combine the physical space of the kiosks with information online.
The first stage was an open call for ideas to all demographics via a Facebook fan page and web platform.
Participants were challenged with the following question:
“The Kiosk with its many locations will become the hub between the physical and digital world. Which surprising ideas, products and services can you imagine in the context of the Kiosk of the Future?”
During a 7-week period, 626 ideas were submitted, with most (233) coming in the first week. In common with all such open crowdsourcing projects, the ideas were a mixed bag with some ingenious offerings and others that were wide of the mark.
All submitted concepts were accorded a rank, from five - “very good” down to one and two “bad idea”. Contest organizers focused their attention on ideas ranked 4 and 5 while those ranked 3 were sent to other Valora departments as they were more pertinent to other business areas.
The results of the assessment phase were:
• 422 ideas were classified as not relevant to the project or to Valera.
• 140 ideas relevant to Valora but not to the project.
• 64 ideas relevant to “Kiosk of the Future”.
Following further assessments and workshops, four winning ideas were eventually chosen. These were combined with ideas from internal company sources. In all, seven concepts were used in the design and development of the new kiosks. The four external ideas included proposals for involving the local communities in online games, producing a free local paper and tweeting sale items.
Valora found the crowdsourcing exercise worthwhile as it provided them with ideas they would not have otherwise comes across. Questions and request for proposals were carefully worded so as to increase the chances of receiving pertinent concepts, and time was allocated to carefully review each submitted concept.
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