Accenture recently put together a small library of case studies from innovation leaders like Bosch, Huawei, and Ford. Accenture’s research confirms that open innovation best practices are still in flux.
One key lesson stands out, however: digital networks can play an essential role in expanding the capabilities of corporate open innovation teams.
Building a network of technology providers from scratch is difficult. That’s why so many open innovation professionals rely on their own university networks or local institutions for leads.
Let’s explore how Ford and Bosch are saving resources by tapping into a digital network of universities, startups and labs.
Ford and Bosch embrace digital tools for open innovation, transforming the way their companies source and vet new ideas.
The Bosch open innovation strategy
Accenture describes how Bosch was able to leverage an existing digital network of technology providers (startups, university researchers) to source promising technology solutions.
Bosch hired a third party service provider, similar to the seedsprint community, to run an online competition for a new energy storage technology.
Innovators from the service provider’s network submitted ideas for review via an online portal. The service provider tapped into an existing digital network of their own creation, disseminating Bosch’s tech call for energy storage technology far and wide.
Bosch chose to tap a service provider’s existing network to reach a larger number of relevant research labs and technology transfer professionals – thereby allowing Bosch employees to focus on technical priorities, such as vetting the submissions they received.
Ford: An open innovation lightbulb moment
Ford is another example of a company that found success with a digital community.
Finding new partners and maintaining relationships is extremely time-consuming. Ford was able to draw technology providers in by offering an exciting resource: 19 machine-readable datasets from Ford vehicles. Ford had a lightbulb moment when they realized that could create an online community based around access to this valuable data, which would attract hardware and software developers and create an engaged pool of innovators.
Ford saved time and resources with their digital community. According to Accenture, Ford’s approach “required fewer dedicated resources than were necessary to maintain partnerships with individual researchers from universities, research laboratories or start-ups.”
Outcomes and takeaways: Bosch and Ford
Bosch and Ford show how digital communities can extend a company’s reach.
Without a digital network of technology providers, Bosch would have likely needed to invest many hours building a list of potential partners and sending their tech call to them directly, wasting valuable time and resources.
Similarly, Ford tapped into a lively digital community for its open innovation needs. When they had specific technical problems, they released them to the community via tech calls or “contests” – leading to several Ford pilots and incubated projects.
These successes illustrate the potential for digital transformation in the open innovation space.