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The difference between co-creation and customer-focused innovation

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend the annual SAMA (Strategic Account Management Association) conference, which was excellent. The conference theme was: Collaborate, Co-Create, Innovate.The concept of co-creation peaked my interest, but as I listened to various presenters, it seemed like some were mixing the concepts of co-creation and customer-focused innovation.   

To me, customer-focused innovation is about listening to customers throughout the innovation process in order to produce something new that results in a win-win. In this scenario, the customer contributes ideas, input, and feedback, but they do not contribute other resources to the creation of the innovation. The end result produces products and services that the customer wants and (in theory) increased revenue for the company who produced it. Two great examples of this can be seen with My Starbucks Ideas and Dell Ideastorm.

Co-creation on the other hand involves other resources (beyond ideas and input) into the creation of the innovation and must result in a win-win-win. Both companies win and their respective customers win. A great example of this is Nike Plus, where Nike and Apple partnered together to create the new running experience.

One final point of distinction – all companies should be striving towards customer-focused innovation. However, co-creation is likely to be more selective depending on the situation.

That is how I see the difference between the two. What say you?

Photo credit to remjr.

Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connection on 5/13/2009.

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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