Co-Creation Contests: Q&A With The CEO Of Redesignme

This is the fifth in a series of question-and-answer blog posts with the CEOs of the vendors included in my recent Forrester Wave™: Co-Creation Contest Vendors, Q3 2011 (blog and report).

Today we’re talking with Maxim Schram, CEO of Redesignme. Redesignme, a firm based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, was identified as a "Strong Performer" in that report, based on its Redesignme Connect product.

Doug:          Co-creation contests are a new opportunity for product strategy professionals to solve business challenges, but many people are unfamiliar with them. What is your “elevator pitch” to potential clients about co-creation contests and the benefits they deliver?

Maxim:       We believe in Bill Joy’s vision (co-founder of Sun Microsystems): “There are always more smart people outside your team or company than within it.” A co-creation contest is an extremely efficient and fun way to collect, discuss and elaborate on fresh new insights and ideas. Setting up something similar in an offline environment can be time consuming and costly. A lot of the challenges on our website are initiated by companies that see co-creation contests as the perfect starting point for an innovation process. The ideas collected often count as input for creative sessions, design projects and market research. Besides, joining an online co-creation contest can inspire one’s own creativity and result in commitment amongst a project group or department.

 

Doug:          Why should product strategy professionals consider co-creation a business imperative at this point in time?

Maxim:       We have entered an age of continuously growing digitalization, connectedness, and a willingness to share. Consumer needs tend to change faster than companies can adapt. Online social networks have intensified the social connections consumers have. This opens up opportunities for connections between companies and consumers. Opinions, ideas and feedback about products and services are floating around openly on the Internet. As a product developer, you should try to open up to this input. Whether it is about a new product idea or a concrete design, starting the conversation with end-users and even asking them to come up with product improvements is now easier than ever. The question is not IF the right idea comes along but WHEN.

 

Doug:          Our clients often want to prove ROI before pursuing new engagements. How do you help clients prove ROI for co-creation contest projects?

Maxim:       When using co-creation you need to be open-minded throughout the entire process. This will facilitate maximum added value. The danger with focusing on ROI too much is that specific decisions are made up front that undermine the basic principles of co-creation. The ideas you receive might not be feasible within a year but can give you inspiration to look at your products in a whole new way. So a company using co-creation should focus on the long-term effects. Those are not only the inspiring ideas that result from the contest, but the effect this strategy has on the satisfaction of customers and the way they perceive your brand.

 

Doug:          Last question: How is your business evolving to meet clients’ future needs for co-creation?

Maxim:       We have two equally strong focus areas: our clients and the wellness of our community. We believe that the strength of our proposition is in the “health” of our community. Our clients are served by an eager and creative community with a high willingness to share. During our evaluations with clients this is often named as our most important strength. This means that in order to keep our clients happy, we need to keep our community happy. That's why, internally, we have a project called "community love" that is set up to keep community members connected and engaged. We listen to their wishes and try to implement those along the way. Practice what you preach, so to speak!