[Participate!] “Open Education Lab” Launched by U of Innsbruck, Invites You to Participate

Open Education Lab” is a discussion platform designed within the scope of an academic project by Prof. Johann Füller at the University of Innsbruck, investigating novel approaches and concepts in the field of open education in an open-minded way. The research study discusses common questions about open education, mainly based on a broad analysis of the concept of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Furthermore, the project aims to gain new insights on the development of innovative educational developments also within the industrial sector.

Together with his team, Prof. Füller performed a broad market research and installed the discussion platform to gather opinions from Key Opinion Leaders in the field concerning three main topics (the following content is quoted from the discussion platform www.openeducationlab.at). If you are interested in discussing with other experts please write an email to info@openeducationlab.at and you will get your personal account information.


1. MOOCS – Hype or stable trend? Technologies & Development


Bild Topic1MOOCs comprise the possibility to reach learners all around the globe. Users can learn “www” – wherever, whenever and whatever, the spectrum of courses offered is immense. Topics ranging from the natural sciences over managing trainings to yoga classes are thought for free. However, high quality education might not always be ensured. We would like to propose potential weaknesses of instantaneously offered MOOCs and likely challenges for the successful implementation of MOOCs in the industrial educational landscape.
Informal Learning
Every strength comes with a weakness! Although MOOCs provide the user with freedom of choice regarding subject, schedule and quantity of content, in order to successfully complete a course a high degree of self-organization, self-discipline and time management is demanded from the learner. High drop-put rates are the result.


Technical Qualification
In order to produce a MOOC, certain technical qualifications need to be mastered by the producing institution and the lecturing speaker. Although general guidelines can be found on the web, a control for quality is rarely offered. Technical training and mediation of media competence are strongly recommendable.

Active engagement in the community is observed only in 10% of users. Interactivity, social integration, discussions and self-presentation are characteristics of traditional learning forms which are not adequately transferred to the MOOC landscape yet. However, peer-to-peer mentoring and collective thinking might produce the most creative results and intellectual approaches.

Learners might be interested in an official certification of qualification they obtained by completing courses. Accreditation from an acknowledged educational institution therefore represents a reasonable demand towards MOOC providers. Thus, cooperation with universities, (vocational) schools and other accreditation institutes should be of high interest also for MOOC suppliers in the industrial sector.

Mentoring and Guidance
Be it virtual or in-person: most learners appreciate some form of guidance during their educational training. MOOC providers rarely offer such support. One could imagine that the former traditional teacher might take the part of a mentor or content guide. Also guidance in form of an artificially intelligent coach might constitute an alternative. The community, on the other hand, could constitute a place for consultancy and support.

In the traditional sense, openness with regard to education comprises characteristics such as open access to the content, open source software for the usage of the content, open educational resources (textbooks, applications, journals,…), open learning (flexibility, individualization) and open data (re-using, sharing). Are MOOCs truly as “open” as they are claimed to be?

Blended Learning
Mere online learning might not constitute the exclusive solution for most efficient and long-lasting learning success. The combination with an offline component, for example in form of presence seminars, discussion groups, group-work or hands-on training might help the learner to transfer the learned knowledge to “the real world”. Problem-solving tasks, training setups and working groups might therefore constitute essential tools in addition to the online presented content for the manifestation of the MOOC concept for education also within industry setting. Especially technical professions might benefit from such a blended learning form that combines online and offline elements.


2. MOOCs’ Strengths and Weaknesses: Challenges for the successful implementation in an educational institution


The Gartner Hype Cycle

The Gartner Hype Cycle


Examining the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the hype cycle (A), we might derive that MOOCs stand at the through of their hype development. Consequently, in the very near future, a stable trend will likely dissociate from the unsteady hype. Similarly, the steady increase in user numbers of the main MOOC providers (B) suggests that the status quo is settling on the top of the hill, with user numbers ranging up to 10 million.

Technological Trends

Various technological trends and developments will strongly influence teaching, learning and the ways of communication between learners and educators. The inspection of these technologies on the hype cycle (C) allows for the differentiation between rather new and highly modifiable from steadily established tools. For the purpose of this study, we are interested which technological trends will permanently be incorporated in educational processes.


3. MOOCs spreading over the Educational Landscape – Does the dual education system have a need for MOOCs?


The (German) Education System - a classification

The (German) Education System – a classification

Within the scope of our study we were interested to examine existing MOOC providers for their target groups within the educational landscape in Germany. Therefore we categorized the following educational sectors (A):

1) secondary schools until 9th grade

2) secondary schools until 13th grade

3) Universities and technical colleges

4) Dual education system (vocational training schools)

5) Advanced training
Additional non-educational groups included:

6) Business companies

7) Socially and globally disadvantaged groups


Immense supply for universities – lack of offerings for the dual education system?
By categorizing the main existing MOOC providers into the described sectors and groups (B), we observed a plethora of suppliers serving the target groups of universities (60% of the analyzed providers, C) and also advanced training in general (45% of the analyzed providers, C). However, vocational training school and the secondary educational system seem not to constitute a significant target group for MOOC providers (only 5% of the analyzed providers, C).


Want to share your thoughts on the (open) future of education and learning? Hope to see you at www.openeducationlab.at!

TIME Research Area at HBS Open & User Innovation Workshop 2014

foto4Summertime in Aachen, Germany. That means fairly volatile weather to say the least, fast switching between blistering hot days and horrific thunderstorms. Blessings of global warming.

Fortunately, there are other, less chameleonic places in the world. One of them, Boston, MA, was the place to be for open and user innovation researchers over the past days, anyways. Here, the leading conference about all aspects of innovating with externals in general and users in particular took place once again: The 12th Open and User Innovation Workshop (OUI) at Harvard Business School.

Ranging from Open Innovation, Open Source and Lead Users to Diffusion, User Innovation in Healthcare and the hot topic of Additive Manufacturing, tracks covered the entire range of modern open / user innovation research. And, as always and just like a big family reunion, the OUI brought together all those brilliant colleagues from universities around the world that one would love to discuss with on a more regular basis. A full list of tracks, topics and presenters can be found here (LINK).

Our group was also honored to contribute and present some of our latest research, including:

Beyond Pricing Decisions: Business Model Innovation in the Two Sided Market of an Open Innovation Intermediary (Andy Zynga, Dirk Lüttgens, Frank T. Piller)

Solve, Buy or Broadcast Search? An Empirical Investigation of R&D Managers’ Governance Choices for Problem Solving (Christoph Ihl, Dirk Lüttgens)

Opening the Black Box of “Not-Invented-Here”: Attitudes, Decision Biases, and Behavioral Consequences (David Antons, Frank T. Piller)

User driven innovation in electromobility: Applying netnography to identify leading edge users in a high-tech environment (Patrick Pollok, Dirk Lüttgens, Frank T. Piller)

Organizing collaboration: The costs of innovative search (Kathleen Diener, Dirk Lüttgens, Frank T. Piller)

A full list of all presentations and their abstracts can be found here (LINK)

A tweet says more than thousand words. In this sentiment here is a collection of what has been tweeted by various attendants during these three days in Boston, including a lot of pictures that really transport the great atmosphere of this excellent event.

And, last but most certainly not least, we want to say a heartfelt “thank you!” to those who excelled in organizing and hosting the OUI, once more: Carliss Baldwin (HBS), Karim Lakhani (HBS), Stefan Thomke (HBS), Eric von Hippel (MIT), Benjamin Mako Hill (University of Washington) and their entire team. It has been a great time!

More information about the Open User Innovation Workshop 2014 can be obtained from the official website at http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/conferences/2014-oui/Pages/default.aspx

Also see this great blogpost by colleague Joel West for another view on the OUI2014!

Research in 3D printing innovation

The following is a repost of an excellent summary of our recent academic workshop on 3D printing, written by Prof. Joel West (KGI) and originally published on the Open Innovation Blog.

Frank-3DP-croppedOn Tuesday, Frank Piller and I hosted a successful workshop on 3D printing at RWTH Aachen. About 30 people attended the workshop: half from RWTH Aachen, the rest from other academic venues and a few from industry.

In many ways, 3D printing research reminds me of open source software research in 2001 or 2002. Frank says there is an explosion of research on 3D printing (i.e. more like OSS in 2005): I’m guessing this is concentrated in Europe because I’m not seeing it in the US. (But then, some of the early OSS research was phenomenon-based, which tends not to count much in U.S. business schools).

We had a deep dive into the science with Reinhart Poprawe, who’s both managing director of the Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT and a professor at RWTH Aachen. With the rise of RepRap, MakerBot and other consumer technologies, most of us are familiar with the plastic (mostly FDM) 3D printing, but his focus is the high-quality, high-speed production of metal parts for industrial uses — which are the future of 3D printing as a manufacturing technique.

Joel-3DP-croppedAs an economic historian, I gave an overview of the first 30 years of 3D printing, outlining the path from the industrial prototyping companies of the 1980s (notably 3D Systems and Stratasys) through to the dozens of consumer-focused startups of this century. I noted three trends fueling the latter movement: the “maker” movement, open design communities and the expiration of a key patent. (Alas, I gave the talk in casual clothes, without benefit of the suitcase that AirBerlin delivered 24 hours after I arrived in Aachen.)

The RWTH Aachen business school (Frank) and the Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (Simon Ford) summarized their respective research agendas. Not surprisingly, Frank’s group is interested in mass customization while Cambridge is using UK money “to examine the reality and the potential of digital fabrication for the UK economy.”

Thierry Rayna described how 3D printing is changing business model innovation, while Letizia Mortara talked about classifying 73 different maker spaces into 13 categories. Christian Weller of RWTH described experiments of allowing consumers to customize products and how they felt about their willingness to pay.

In our debrief, I noted the need to build a community of researchers that (as with the early days of OSS) read and build upon each other’s work. We don’t (or won’t) have a management journal, but there are several conferences. The best is Frank’s track on “Open Innovation and Additive Manufacturing” at the annual (von Hippel) Open and User Innovation Conference (where I hope to present). In June 2016, the Cambridge IfM group will be hosting the R&D Management Conference, so that’s another natural fit.

European OI researchers have also been fond of the annual ISPIM conference: the program for next week’s conference in Dublin mentions “open innovation,” including a plenary session on OI led by Wim Vanhaverbeke and a talk by Wim on the forthcoming New Frontiers in Open Innovation (Oxford, 2014). While 3D printing and additive manufacturing are nowhere mentioned at this year’s conference, there’s always next year.

Originally posted by Joel West on the Open Innovation Blog

Recommended Read: Blog by Professor Hans-Gerd Servatius

competivation_blogFor anybody interested in deeper insights into innovation management, leadership for innovation and more, there is now an additional source available. My colleague and partner at Competivation, Professor Hand-Gerd Servatius has started to share some of his knowledge based on over thirty years of professional consulting experience.

His posts are in German language but if you are able to read German (or use google translator), you can find a lot of quality information over at: http://www.competivation.de/blog

Impressions from the MCPC 2014 in Aalborg!

The past week were a highlight for every mass customization enthusiast as our colleagues from Aalborg University hosted this year’s edition of the MCPC Conference. We were there, of course, and, as always, a lot of tweeting and image-sharing took place. We will post more about some hot topics of the conference within the next days. Until then, here are some great impressions and voices from attendees some of you might recognize…




MCPC bannerWorld Conference on Mass Customization, Personalization, and Co-Creation Aalborg, Denmark February 4 – 7, 2014

News from the organizing team of the MCPC 2014 in Aalborg: Please observe that there is a deadline on November 29th for early registration to reduced price 500€ compared to full price 600€. At the conference web site www.mcpc2014.aau.dk, you will find the registration page with link to online registration.

The planning of the conference is currently going into further detail regarding keynote sessions, academic sessions, and industry sessions with demonstrations of successful business applications, practices, and insights. See the official website for further info.

Hope to see you in Aalborg in 2014!!

[Market Watch] 3D dataSculptures: Strategical Business Data for Your Desk

MeliesArt DemoThe market for 3d-printed goods has a lot of momentum these days. From the simplest of forms to entire houses and parts of space rockets and, unfortunately, even working guns, there appears to be few things that eager engineers can not print – or will not be able to print within the next years. One such thing that, intuitively, is hard to imagine as a physical object is business data. 

However, German company MeliesArt from Duesseldorf is offering exactly that: 3d-printed business data, figures, numbers, in colored plastic or even silver-plated for the extra-positive revenue development "chart". In a way these sculptures are, besides nice to look at, another example of innovative mass customized products.

For some nice images and more details please see the official press release (in German language) or the following video: http://youtu.be/UfWiIh_tbN8



[Participate!] E-Commerce Forum 2020 in Athens

E-Commerce2020_PaulBlazekOn November 21st & 22nd 2013 the “E-Commerce Forum 2020”  in Athens will bring together entrepreneurs, pioneers and innovators to discuss e-commerce trends and to learn from experienced international speakers.

Under the patronage of seven institutions, the event is organized by Directions Publications S.A. and neoecommerce.gr, the leading blog for e-commerce in the Greek market.

The conference focusses on different trends in e-commerce that range from shopping clubs to new dialogue channels.

And mass customization will play an important role too. Paul Blazek, CEO of cyLEDGE Media  – one of the leading agencies dealing with customization – will give some new insights in his keynote “Mass Customization – Creating Customer Value in E-Commerce” about how the integration of customers and their individual preferences can push the perceived value of products.

And Michael Bruck, CEO of Chocri, will talk about customizing chocolate and Coca-Cola.

The conference is addressed to everyone who has a passion for electronic commerce and innovation, to entrepreneurs of traditional trade and established brands.

Tickets for both days are still available here!

New Book Co-Authored by Prof. Piller: Discontinuous Innovation – Learning to Manage the Unexpected

P803.cover"Discontinuou Innovation", authored by Peter Augsdörfer (Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt, Germany), John Bessant (University of Exeter, UK), Kathrin Möslein (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany), Bettina von Stamm (Innovation Leadership Forum, UK) and Frank Piller (RWTH Aachen University, Germany) is based on the findings, issues and questions related to an ongoing decade-old research project named the Innovation Lab. The research project focuses on discontinuous innovation in more than thirteen countries, most of which are European, and provides useful insights into its different challenges.

It also raises several questions related to the subject, some of which are: how do firms pick up weak signals on emerging — and possibly radically different — innovation? What should firms do when these weak signals hit their “mainstream” process? What are the criteria for allocating resources to a strategic innovation project? What actions should firms take to avoid being left out by the “corporate immune system”? How should firms organize projects that often break existing rules and require new rules to be created?

This book attempts to provide answers to the above mentioned questions by gathering information from the research project and also from firms that have tried exploring various ideas, models and insights to tackle discontinuous innovation. Written in a simple and accessible manner, this book will be of interest to both practitioners and academics alike.

You can find an extensive sample chapter on the official website!


  • Learning in the Discontinuous Innovation Laboratory
  • Radical, Discontinuous and Disruptive Innovation — What's the Difference?
  • Part I:
    • Looking Beyond the Lamp-Post
    • Ambidexterity in the Search Phase of the Innovation Process
    • Unpacking Exploratory Innovation: Search Practices, Organizational Context and Performance
    • Organizing Discontinuous Innovation at Established SMEs
    • Discontinuous Innovation Search for SMEs and Large Organisations
    • The BMW Group Co-Creation Lab: From Co-Creation Projects to Programmes
    • Strengthening the Role of the Users
  • Part II:
    • Netnography in the Food Industry
    • Selection Strategies for Discontinuous Innovation
    • Selecting Discontinuous Innovation in Practice
    • Innovation Buy-In at Schneider Electric: The KIBIS Method
  • Part III:
    • Implementing Discontinuous Innovation
    • Strategic Flexibility, Culture and Measurement as Organisational Enablers
    • Coloplast: Fixing Broken Hearts?
    • Implementing Discontinuous Innovation within Philips Lighting
    • Fighting the Unknown — With Business Design
    • Center of Excellence: One Way to Implement Discontinuous Innovation
    • Munich Airport: The Success Story of InfoGate

    Frank Mini-Me Piller: Get Yourself 3D-Printed, Keep Your Young Self Forever

    Doob 3d printing
    has developed far beyond a trend by now. Potential applications are manifold, ranging from medical gear to entire houses. And now you can even have a detailed replica of yourself printed in a variety of sizes, a kind of 3D printed Mini-Me, to give it away to your friends or just place on your shelve to keep a memory of your young, energetic self for the decades to come.

    In Germany, there are several companies offering this service. I used Doob, or Deep End Productions, located in Duesseldorf, Germany. Founded by Vladimir Puhalac and Torsten Bernasco Lisboa, the companys offers 3D photographs to everyone. While standard sizes go from 15 to 30 coms, you can also get a lifesize figure (for 15K Euro onwards, the 30cm version go for about 300 Euros).

    All you have to do is to show up in their studio and be photographed from all sides, simultaniously, by a 50 cameras (this process is called Photogrammetry"). These pictures than are transferred into a 3D model, which then is hand-modelled into the final 3D file. This file then is placed on a standard 3D systems prototyoing machine that can print in full color.

    The founders are coming from the medical field and have a strong background in 3d modelling. Their first company is providing replicas of ears, noses, and breasts to unfortunate patients who lost these bodyparts. With this background, they discovered the stereo litography, and developed a quite efficient procedure to develop your "doppelgänger". After the photograph, a 3D model is created that then is manually prepared for the final print. While the later procedure takes about 2 hours, I believe it can be brought down.

    They now opened a first store in Duesseldorf, but plan to enter the US and Japanese market, too, within the next months.

    The result is really stunning, and while I belive that in general people like to see themselves, it really is a great feeling to have yourself as a mini-figure. But also everyone else found this really cool.

    This is why I believe that this kind of 3D printing service may become the killer application that makes 3D printing a mainstream business application:

    • Established market. Our parents all used to go once every few years to a professional photographer for a family picture. While this market has almost disappeared, this 3D printing service may foster its revival.
    • Fast. The print is based on a photograph, not a 3D scan. This means you can also have a child, dog, or something similar quickly moving on your arm.
    • The quality is really stunning. You can see the pattern of your t-shirt or even your tatoo perfectly (I almost feel sorry that I did not have a tatoo to be printed on my figure).
    • Prices will go down rapidely. While the current price of 200-300 Euros is quite high, there is plenty of room for adjustments (I estimate that material costs are below 10 Euro).
    • There are many more options for business model innovation: You and your favorite soccer star in one print; you and your baby belly (very popular with German moms to be); the partners of a law firm greeting their clients on the reception desk, you holding a poster and a bunch of flowers proposing to your wife to be, …
    • Local production: While delivery in the moment takes a couple a weeks and is done in a central facility, production can be brought down to a couple of hours, opening an entire new market in malls and amusement parks.

    So when you have the chance and like to experience a reall fun application of 3D printing, then get your doob, too.

    Update: Here are some other posts about this technology and the picture taking:

    - Captured Dimensions and Twinkind (similar services)

    - Report about COKE Israel advertising campaign featuring Mini-figures


    Berkeley-Fraunhofer Study on Open Innovation

    Oi-studyOur collegues of Fraunhofer IAO and University of Berkeley (Henry Chesbrough and sabine Brunswicker) have surveyed large firms in the US and in Europe about whether or not they actually practice open innovation. The results are very interesting. Here are some key findings:

    • Among companies with sales larger than $250 million annually, 78% practice open innovation
    • Among those companies, 71% report that top management support for these activities are growing
    • 82% of firms report that open innovation is more actively practiced now, compared to three years ago
    • None of the companies in the survey have abandoned open innovation as of now.

    For the full report as well as many additonal details please visit the official website at Fraunhofer IAO.

    Submit your speaking proposal for the MCPC 2014 NOW!

    MCPC2014_banner_cut There are hot news from our dear collegues at Aalborg University. Preparations for the MCPC 2014 Conference are going along and now you can start submitting your paper to the organizers, using the official submission system via Springer.

    So, if you have some interesting research to contribute that fits into the conference's call for papers, follow the link and become part of a great event. Deadline for full paper submissions is September 15th 2013.

    Best of luck and looking forward to meet you in Aalborg!

    [Market Watch] New Project by Big Shot Bikes

    Earlier this year we posted about Big Shot Bikes, a company selling customized single-gear bikes. Now Matt Peterson, CEO of Big Shot Bikes, has informed us about his brand new project. As part of a kickstarter campaign the company is looking for backers to add customizable dutch style cruiser bikes to their portfolio.

    We find these to look pretty sweet on concept pictures and would love to see these become a reality. So if you are looking into a new cruiser bike, stop by on their kickstarter page to back them and secure your own very individual new ride.

    [Recommended Source] Configurator Database 2013, a Comprehensive Market Overview by cyLEDGE

    ConfiguratorDatabaseReport_Profile_Converse(1)A little while ago, Austrian media specialist cyLEDGE
    has released a new market analysis about product configurators and mass
    customization. The Configurator Database Report 2013 is a status quo analysis of 900 international web-based product

    The Configurator Database (www.configurator-database.com) was
    opened in 2007 to give an overview about the world of product configuration.
    Since then it has been constantly extended and updated and thus grew to the
    largest collection of web-based customization tools. A lot of those entries
    were also used for our mc500

    Together with his team, Dr.
    Paul Blazek, CEO of cyLEDGE Media has now published the Configurator Database
    Report 2013, which contains information about all 900 mentioned configurators.
    Every configurator is listed with a full profile, including a screenshot and an
    evaluation of different criteria. Besides basic criteria like industry, product
    type or country
    , the report also contains data about visualization type,
    tutorial, support and social media usage

    “This report is the result of a long and
    ongoing journey to understand the future of customer and company relationships
    in the age of customized products and interactive communication”,
    says Paul Blazek.

    The detailed evaluation of all collected data gives very
    interesting insights on the market of product configuration. A new approach is the examination of the
    usage of social media in connection with configurators
    . The analysis
    shows that more than two thirds of all companies running a configurator have a
    Facebook site and over the half uses Twitter
    . It also shows how this number varies
    according to different countries or industries. Nevertheless, when looking at
    the intensity of the usage there are a lot of unexploited potentials.

    The Configurator Database Report gives a very
    extensive overview about the whole mass customization market. It is an excellent source to everyone who wants to start an own configurator business or wants to be informed
    about the fast-moving world of configurators.

    The paperback version of the report is available on www.lulu.com. For a preview and further details visit www.configurator-database.com/report2013.

    [MCPC14] New Conference Details and Call for Papers


    The MCPC 2014 organizers at Aalborg University have released a great lot of additional information about the next iteration of the most successful conference.

    The MCPC Conference engages academics, business leaders, and consultants to participate and become engaged in fundamental discussions through a set of plenary presentations, workshops, discussion panels, and paper presentations. Continuing our tradition, we invite contributions from a wide range of specialists.

    MCPC 2014 is looking for contributions in cutting-edge research, as well as insightful advances in industrial practice in key areas and invites you to submit your best work, addressing the listed conference topics. Proceedings from the MCPC 2014 conference will be published through Springer.

    Draft Program

    4th February (Tuesday) – Welcome party (at 19:00)

    5th February (Wednesday) – Conference day 1

    • Opening session
    • Keynote session
    • General parallel sessions
    • Conference dinner

    6th February (Thursday) – Conference day 2

    • General parallel sessions
    • Keynote session
    • Future planning session (scientific committee)
    • Closing session
    • Farewell party

    7th February (Friday) – Industry tour

    • Tour to an MC company
    • Young researchers night

     Important Dates

    • 2013 September 1st: Special session proposal
    • 2013 September 15th: Submission of full paper
    • 2013 November 1st: Review notification
    • 2013 November 17th: Submission of revised paper
    • 2013 November 29th: Early bird registration
    • 2014 February 1st: End of registration
    • 2014 February 4th-7th: Conference

    If you are interested (or know anybody potentially interested) in submitting a paper to the MCPC 2014, please find a the full call for papers with all details by following this link [
    Click to Download MCPC2014 Call For Papers (PDF) ]!

    We hope to see you at Aalorg in 2014 and will keep you updated on the latest developments and any important news on this channel!

    [Interview] PUMA’s Head of eCommerce: Changes and Challenges of Customization in the Apparel Industry

    Our friends at embodee have recently conducted a very interesting interview with Thomas Davis, global head of e-commerce for PUMA. To share his views with you, embodee sent us the following guest post, with excerpts from the original interview, that we recommend for a number of interesting insights.  

    Embodee, a company headquartered in Portland, Oregon, enables
    apparel brands to display virtual samples for merchandising and
    finished garments for customization. Its patented imaging
    technology digitally scans, stitches, and drapes physical garments,
    creating 3D virtual renderings true to reality in appearance, size, and
    fit. The garments are viewable from any angle and easy to customize with
    various design features.
    Images of highly customizable garments for some of the
    world's largest sports apparel brands are delivered online by Embodee's SaaS

    Embodee: What are the most significant challenges for apparel
    companies like PUMA in this omni-channel sales world? There’s certainly
    a lot being written about it.


    Davis: It depends on what kind of company you are.
    I’ll boil it down to just PUMA and the wholesale channels because this
    is a landscape of your retail and wholesale channels; and obviously your
    wholesalers are partners and clients too. Secondly, the brand has to
    decide what is the balance between sales and marketing. So it’s a
    complicated dance to figure out, and there isn’t one right or wrong
    answer. Further, how do you get these channels to work in concert while
    still balancing the needs of marketing and brand? Making sure that all
    of these business interests—everything—work together and complement each
    other is much easier said than done.

    don’t care or understand the internal conflicts. Nor should they.
    Customers simply want what they want, which in our case is our product
    and our brand experience. Customers don’t think in terms of business
    units or channels. They think in terms of product and buying that
    product as easily as possible.

    Trying to find that multi-channel synergy is really, really hard
    because traditional brands like a PUMA or anybody of this size that has
    grown as a traditional wholesaler aren’t prepared for some of the
    changes happening in the retail world. Some of the rules for the last 60
    or 70 years are breaking down. And what took decades to establish is
    now being broken down in months as the speed of the digital world is
    accelerating. Example: Rocket Internet. They are basically copying the Zappos
    model outside the U.S. and growing their business to billions in
    revenue in just a year or two, which is x-fold faster than Zappos, which
    was x-fold faster than traditional wholesale distribution. It’s
    jaw-dropping how fast everything is evolving, especially outside the
    U.S. What retail looks like in five or 10 years, who knows? But you’re
    seeing examples of companies trying to find their way in this
    marketplace. Some are doing well at it and some aren’t.

    Embodee: Speaking of those challenges, how does your vision for e-commerce address them?

    Davis: For PUMA specifically, we have to attack the
    market in a very focused way because the reality of our situation is
    that we can’t compete on price, meaning we can’t be the lowest price out
    in the market. That’s just kind of cutting ourselves off at the knees.
    Further, we don’t have the luxury of running a break-even business,
    meaning we can’t put all of our operating expenses toward overnight
    shipping and service. Yet, we are consistently compared to those digital
    players. But that is the reality we live within, and we have to find
    creative ways to be relevant.

    So I try to look at where can we compete and compete effectively. One
    is product content. I believe we must have world-class PUMA information
    about our products (photography, copy, content, digital assets, etc.).
    We also should have the most comprehensive, user-friendly experience for
    shopping decision-making in the digital world.

    We hope that our PUMA experience will be better than an Amazon’s “shop in shop
    presentation for PUMA, and better than a Zappos, for example.
    Specifically, as a retailer we don’t have much control over the
    presentation of our products in our partners’ stores/marketplaces. We’re
    losing brand control, if you will. Search Google for “puma suede
    and you will see the varying degrees of photography/presentation. Some
    good, some bad. Theoretically, we should be able to showcase our
    products in our store in the best lens possible, and we will aim to do this over the next few seasons.

    One of our key strategies is product information management. We’ve
    spent a tremendous amount of effort and time over the last two years
    honing these skills internally. Unfortunately, it’s generally a
    behind-the-scenes kind of project. The only in-front-of-the scenes
    result of that is really the output of a website and customers
    interacting with that information.

    But I believe that’s a cornerstone of our strategy. The other
    cornerstone is product selection. If we’re selling the same exact
    product as Amazon, and if they’re going to beat us on price and service
    and be comparable on product information, then we’re still going to
    lose. Probably nine times out of 10. But if we can create a product
    assortment, develop product awareness, product depth—whether its size,
    color or make of material—that’s different than what’s in the wholesale
    channel—then we have an area for competition and a reason for customers
    to come to our online store.

    So between world class product content and offering a product
    selection that’s different or at least complementary to what is in other
    channels, that’s where we can play and immediately be competitive.

    Embodee: How does mass customization fit in from your perspective?

    Davis: When you start thinking about a diversified
    product strategy in terms of more SKUs, more colors, and more options,
    you start running into liability.
    Meaning, you have to front load cash flow to pay for inventory/product
    that might sit on shelves for weeks if not months before it’s purchased
    and your return on the investments is recouped. It’s the long-tail game.
    When you’re trying to keep your margins high and your turn ratios high,
    it’s a very difficult one to balance. Creating lots of inventory that
    sits on shelves all over the world is just basically money sitting there
    that can’t be allocated toward other business-enhancing projects. The
    turnaround time on product is probably a year lead time for some
    companies. That’s a long time to tie up money, especially when there’s
    no guarantee in the world of fashion.

    You’re taking physical bets on what the trend or the style will be a
    year from now, and who knows whether Jay-Z comes out with a new record,
    Justin Timberlake does something, or Taylor Swift wears a pair of PUMAs
    in her video. It’s serendipity to some extent (or really good product
    placement—hah). So when I start thinking about those kinds of
    constraints I start to look at on-demand products. What’s better than
    being able to create something on demand and eliminate those upfront

    To develop products, colors and/or styles that may mean nothing to
    the customer a year from now, you end up with excess product. This is
    what happened in 2008 when we hit the recession and companies were left
    with shelves full of product which needed to be liquidated. The only way
    to push that amount of excess product is to flood the market and
    discount like crazy. That is not sustainable from a business
    perspective. So I start to look at on-demand or mass customization as a
    plausible solution for a company like PUMA, which answers a lot of our
    financial challenges. But it allows the consumer to dictate freely what
    he or she wants.

    That’s liberating for a business owner and also creates desire from
    consumers, which gives us a great competitive advantage—provided we do
    something really cool for the brand, that’s PUMA-fied, that the
    consumers love. I see that as a pinnacle piece of our strategy going
    forward, and I think it will be so in the retail industry for years to
    come. Look at the entrants into this new paradigm: Threadless, Zazzle, NIKEiD, miadidas, New Balance, Timberland, Converse,
    etc. etc. The list grows every month. It’s happening in myriad
    industries as well, so it’s not just limited to footwear and t-shirts.
    More examples: Shutterfly, ForYourParty.com, L.L.Bean, the lists go on. Remember Dell Computers? Designing your own computer system was a breakthrough.

    PUMA Factory

    I’ll fully admit that PUMA is late to the game. We only recently launched PUMA Factory,
    our first crack at online customization. Currently, it’s live for the
    U.S. and Germany. We believe it’s still in “beta” stage, and over the
    next few months we will determine if we’re on the right track
    operationally as well as from a presentation point of view. The
    opportunities are amazing if we get the block and tackling done.

    People pay a premium for customization. They expect to have to wait
    for it to be made, so the immediate gratification may not be there, but
    it’s still quick and it’s individually driven. Dare I say, a younger
    generation? They want to stand out, they want to be unique, and that’s
    just in the U.S. Once you start going global with these ideas, your
    ability to function with less risk—less cash flow volatility—it’s
    potential, it’s plausible. It could be fantastic on so many levels for
    the brand, like PUMA, as well as for the customer.

    It still needs to be proven, but I think you’re seeing companies like
    the NIKEiDs of the world going this way. I think you’re seeing the
    Zazzles having done really well. Threadless. There are the big retailers
    trying to do it like H&M or even Zara.
    This is the way you can close that timeline to market. I think it’s the
    future—part of the future—of retail at least. I think it has to be.

    Embodee: You mentioned young people. They have an expectation
    that they should be able to order on demand or customize because
    they’ve grown up with that option in other arenas. Almost everything
    they do is customized whether it’s music or pick your topic.

    Davis: I completely agree. My nieces and nephews are
    in their late teens and they’ve never known anything different, and
    that’s only going to become more amplified globally. Their expectations
    will include the ability to customize as a standard, not an exception.
    It’s going to get to the point where everything is a showroom. You’re
    seeing stores go out of business because they try to overstock. I think
    they should be embracing the showroom aspect and let people customize.
    “Here are three basic colors in the store, buy them if you want, but if
    you want the new shiny toy—insert your product—in purple and chartreuse,
    order it customized and we’ll have it for you next week.”

    Ford Model T assembly line

    The question is what companies are going to truly embrace that? If
    you’re buying a year ahead, you can support putting product on a boat
    and letting it ship from China to the U.S., and that takes six weeks.
    That’s all gone when you go to this model, you’re just speeding up the
    processing chain, but it is completely doable. This may be a reach, but Ford
    was the first to create the assembly line for cars. This was a drastic
    and radical step almost a 100 years ago. There is nothing stopping
    retailers, like PUMA, from making a radical shift in the production
    pipeline if it will not only solve a company’s cash/investment
    challenges but (even more importantly) satisfy the customer’s want and

    I think there is an old adage that says
    something like, “The customer is always right…” This is truer now than
    ever in the world of customization.

    The original interview and a lot more about embodee can also be found at the embodee website!

    [Featured Research] User Generated Brands and their Contribution to the Diffusion of User Innovations

    Continuing our mini-series on noteworthy research from around the world, today we feature new work by Johann Füller, Roland Schroll and Eric von Hippel who show that usersnot just are the source of most innovation, but also can create powerful brands

    ResearchUser Generated  Brands and their Contribution to the Diffusion of User Innovations
    , by Johann Füller, Roland Schroll, Eric von Hippel

    Published in: Research Policy, Volume 42, Issues 6–7, July–August 2013, Pages 1197–1209

    Available on: ScienceDirect.com


    (based on the abstract)

    It has been argued that users can create innovations
    and also diffuse them peer-to-peer independent of support or involvement
    by producers
    : that “user-only” innovation systems can exist. It is
    known that users can be incented to innovate via benefits from in-house

    But users’ incentives to invest in diffusion are much less clear:
    benefits that others might obtain from their innovation can be largely or entirely an externality for user innovators.

    course, effective distribution of information products can be done
    near-costlessly via posting downloadable content – for example, software
    – on the Internet. However, potential adopters must still learn about
    the product and trust its qualities.

    In producer systems, this aspect of
    diffusion is heavily supported via the creation of trusted brands. It
    has been shown that brands help to increase awareness, to communicate a
    product's benefits, and to reduce perceived risks of adoption. The
    development of brands by producers is traditionally seen as a very
    costly exercise
    – unlikely to be thought of as worthwhile by users who
    expect little or no benefits from the diffusion of their innovations to

    In this paper the authors explore the creation of a strong and trusted
    brand by the Apache software community
    – and find it was created
    costlessly, as a side effect of normal community functioning. The authors think
    the costless creation of strong brands is an option that is
    generally available to user innovation communities. As they 
    propose, it supports the existence of robust, user-only innovation systems by
    helping to solve the problem of low-cost diffusion of trusted
    user-developed innovations.

    #OUI2013 Conference Summary in One Picture

    The OUI 2013 conference just started at the University of Brighton. Many of the core people from the community will be presenting their research here during the next three day.

    While Joel West probably will cover the event much better than I do, here the entire conference in three graphs, as presented ny host Steve Flowers in the opening talk:

    - Top and minor themes in the papers.

    - Tags pro-duced from the titles

    - The sociale network of topics


    [Recommended Read] Leading Open innovation: New edited MIT book on co-creation and open innovation

    Today we are featuring one of the new volumens published by MIT Press. Leading Open Innovation gives the reader a comprehensive oversight of Open Innovation in its practical applicaton, with many examples and a lot of experience contributed by leading open innovation experts from academia and industry. Amongs all those, I was honored to contribute a chapter as well.

    LeadingopeninnovationLeading Open Innovation
    Anne Sigismund Huff, Kathrin M. Möslein, Ralf Reichwald (Editors)

    Published at MIT Press

    Vailable from Amazon.com


    In today’s competitive globalized market, firms are increasingly reaching beyond conventional internal methods of research and development to use ideas developed through processes of open innovation (OI). Organizations including Siemens, Nokia, Wikipedia, Hyve, and innosabi may launch elaborate OI initiatives, actively seeking partners to help them innovate in specific areas. Individuals affiliated by common interests rather than institutional ties use OI to develop new products, services, and solutions to meet unmet needs.

    Leading Open Innovation describes the ways that OI expands the space for innovation, describing a range of OI practices, participants, and trends. The contributors come from practice and academe, and reflect international, cross-sector, and transdisciplinary perspectives. They report on a variety of OI initiatives, offer theoretical frameworks, and consider new arenas for OI from manufacturing to education.

    Nizar Abdelkafi, John Bessant, Yves Doz, Johann Füller, Lynda Gratton, Rudolf Gröger, Julia Hautz, Anne Sigismund Huff, Katja Hutter, Christoph Ihl, Thomas Lackner, Karim R. Lakhani, Kathrin M. Möslein, Anne-Katrin Neyer, Frank Piller, Ralf Reichwald, Mitchell M. Tseng, Catharina van Delden, Eric von Hippel, Bettina von Stamm, Andrei Villarroel, Nancy Wünderlich