Monday, June 18, 2012

Open Innovation in China.

What are some important aspects to consider while thinking about open innovation and co-creation in China? Does it need to be looked at differently?

Asia continues to rise and fit better into the global economy every passing year. And China is an essential and a large contributor in making this happen.

Responsibility of doing innovation goes in hand with such transition, but often takes far longer than to pass the language and culture barriers. In other words, for Asia and China to continue their ascent, they must also invent at par with the west. That said, how does open innovation and co-creation as accelerator of innovation fair in China and what are the opportunities?

Why Chinese customers could be bit different than you expect: While countries like India has been hugely influenced and has accepted western norms, same is not true for China. If your business really wants to enter China, then you will need to understand the customers more than you will need to do in rest of the world. So co-creation with customers is not just good to have but almost an essential strategy. 

Business model of customized services, products and experiences: One of the business model innovations happening around the world is with respect to customized services, products and experiences. Though there are clear customer delight factors, it is usually not possible to build machines to automate the delivery of such experiences. Think of a personalized women’s designer footwear for a lady in Spain. China with its huge capability in manufacturing excellence, combined with huge skilled manpower, could have a big advantage over rest of the world and rest of Asia to perform exceptionally well in businesses which are based on personalization or customization of product delivery.

Frugal or Reverse Innovation: China primarily due to the sheer size, over last 1000 or so years has almost lived in its own universe. And that has made them immensely indigenously innovative. Every aspect of products, process and application of things has their own flavor in China. This opens up a huge opportunity for rest of the world to look at the so called universally accepted way of doing things in completely new light, and in turn spur innovation of a different kind.

Academia connection: With more than 2500 universities and 20 million students, China boasts of the biggest source of intellectual talent no one would like to miss out. The new generation in China wants to experience the world, more open than ever to jump onto opportunities which connects them to outside of China. If you have Academia collaboration in your list then China will figure in it  sooner or later.

So what’s on the other side? What could be the one big hurdle?:  Unlike the west, Asia is not good at marketing their innovations; not for the purpose of selling; but to reach out, receive diverse opinions, and improve it with outside help. Most of the Asian countries lack this attribute.