I was recently contacted by a wonderful young lady named Emily Thomas, who contributes articles to a web site called “Online College Degrees.” As one might assume, the site is pretty much what the name says it is: a place to find out more about how to get an on-line degree… but their blog has some really fun and cool postings such as: 100 Amazingly Insightful People You Can Learn from on Twitter or 100 Exciting and Innovative Lectures for Every Kind of Entrepreneur or 10 Most Successful and Famous College Dropouts. Emily asked if she could put together a guest blog for my site and I enthusiastically agreed. I really like what she came up with, a posting on “co-creation” a topic I’ve studied for several years (I especially like the GoldCorp example – one of my very favorites). I hope you enjoy Emily’s article, I think it shares some very important ideas.
How Co-Creation is Revolutionizing the Market and Why You Should know About it
C.K Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, both business school professors, first coined the term “co-creation.” Their book, “The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers” outlines their argument that future opportunities in business growth are heading almost exclusively in the direction of co-creation– a market concept in which consumers take on larger roles in the production process.
So what, exactly, is co-creation? Although still very academically conceptual, the idea of co-creation can be seen at work in the Open Source software movement, as well as in social media marketing. However, Prahalad and Ramaswamy assert that co-creation is so much more than simply an Internet phenomenon, and every business can use it to power future growth. For a more basic definition of co-creation, Wikipedia offers the following: “a form of market or business strategy that emphasizes the generation and ongoing realization of mutual firm-customer value. It views markets as forums for firms and active customers to share, combine and renew each other’s resources and capabilities to create value through new forms of interaction, service and learning mechanisms.”
In the popular book (and blog) “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything,” authors Dan Tapscott and Anthony Williams also play into the notion of co-creation, and demonstrate further how mass collaboration can benefit companies. An example that they cite in the introduction to the book is that of the company GoldCorp, a gold mining company that was nearing extinction several years ago because the company’s experts couldn’t effectively locate gold deposits on the company’s vast properties. The company’s CEO decided to “open source” all of its gold mining information on the Internet, a particularly risky move in an industry that is known for its secrecy. He then set up the “GoldCorp Challenge,” the winner of whom would receive half a million dollars in prize money. The result? Hundreds of people—geophysicists, mathematicians, and military personnel—participated, and the bold move reaped GoldCorp over $9 billion dollars in profits.
So how can you specifically use co-creation to your company’s benefit? While there are no straight answers, successfully implementing co-creation techniques requires a specific mindset. One must ask themselves constantly, “How can I get the consumer involved in my product?” And “What does the consumer value, and, by extension, how can I help her work with me to create that value over a long period of time?” In doing so, the consumer will feel empowered and more connected to her product and to the company as a whole.
The benefits of co-creating value with consumers are not simply limited, however, to consumer empowerment and subsequent loyalty. When you enable consumers to give the company constant creative feedback, when you provide the consumer a platform on which he or she can create along with you, then you cut down enormously on development costs. And, in so doing, the rest of the world that has jumped on the co-creation bandwagon is creating a new space for competitive advantage. It’s time that you joined.
For more specific information about implementing co-creation techniques, visit the blogs: The Spirit of Co-Creation, Co-Creation Blog, and The Co-Creation Effect, a blog run by Francis Gouillart, the president of the Experience Co-Creation Partnership (ECCP).
**This guest post is contributed by Emily Thomas, who writes on the topics of top online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: email@example.com.