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Orchestrating Innovation with User Communities in the Creative Industries

Vincent Mangematin, Associate Dean for Corporate Relations and Research at Grenoble Ecole de Management
Published on
17 March 2015

In search of continuous innovation, the digital creative industries have expanded their interactions with user communities to develop their products. This study highlights the evolution of these company-user relationships that allow for fluid interactions and continuous product renewal.

This article by Vincent Mangematin is the subject of the 12th GEM LAB Executive Summaries.

From the Article

Orchestrating innovation with user communities in the creative industries, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 83 (2014) 40-53 Guy Parmentier, Vincent Mangematin, 2014

The digital creative industries exemplify an innovation process that builds on continuous user input and interaction during product development. The study highlights a shift towards co-innovation in these industries as they search to overcome the challenges of creativity in the innovation process.

The digitization of company-user interactions through online communities diminishes the boundaries between companies and their communities, blurs the line between existing and on-going products as users contribute to continuous product renewal, and encourages fluid interactions that lead to co-innovation.

The authors of the study focused on four case studies (Trackmania, Freebox, Propellerhead and MySQL) to better understand the digital creative industries' innovation process and existing relationships to online communities.

Analysis was carried out rom three angles

  • First, the opening of company boundaries, including company-user interactions, task sharing and knowledge sharing, was observed to be relevant across all four cases. As a result, ideas were created, developed and/or debugged by users.
  • Second, the co-creation of products/services was highlighted by company support for user input through discussion forums, user tool boxes for innovation and post-production user events.
  • Finally, the study examined the creation of company-friendly communities through the sharing of identity elements (logos, domain name, language elements, etc.), common values and products/ services ( through free or low priced offers).

The analysis of the study highlights the importance of managing the innovation process and orchestrating online communities. In making communities central to innovation, companies are faced with key decisions. Reaping the benefits of co-creation requires them to open up their development process and then to identify which elements are open to the community and which remain internal. Once these decisions are settled, the challenge lies in balancing the opening of the development process against the added-value of user input and creation. This balancing act is forcing companies to develop new knowledge and skills to manage boundary and identity issues.

Key Points

  • Online user communities have become central to the digital creative industries' innovation process.
  • Co-innovation requires companies to open their boundaries and develop strong ties with user communities.
  • To increase the capacity for innovation, collaboration must be implemented across all parts of a company and its communities as well as all functions and types of innovation: technological innovation, innovative uses and content.

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