Innovations don’t happen in isolation. This week I’ve found that social networks are vital to new product development. Organisations must understand the various aspects and or benefits different networks can provide and where they can receive this leverage. Otherwise they’re doomed.
We know that consumers have twenty-four hour access to their phones, in addition, the Internet and social media. This access allows consumers to easily share information and or opinions to their networks. Market research has found that there are consumers who may be ‘lead users’ as well as ‘crowdsourcing’ groups that are beneficial as their inputs and involvement create greater product prosperity in the development stage. An example of this is Nokia’s Open Innovation Challenge, an international platform that is supported by consumer-generated feedback and comments, on product requests, queries and or suggestions.
A lead-user would be a person that has a certain level of expertise in the specific area whom I would be more likely to trust and or take opinions from. A lead-user, would have high betweenness centrality to the organisation. Meaning that their level of influence is high and their impact can have both positive or negative effects as they may ‘obstruct, meditate or facilitate knowledge flows from one actor to another’
Lead-users also act as a leverage for organisations, as they indicate and suggest ways that could help them during their product development. Listening and focusing on what they want in a product, could be the very thing that leads the organisation to identify and spark an idea of a new product For example, if lead-users on their blogs, are discussing the benefits of a phone but then state how another brand has a great feature, the company can take this as a lead, and if there is further confirmation and demands for this development, the company can take this feedback and implement changes.
Leads are leading the way, marketers must make sure, they are following that lead.