Very well written article. I am actually quite torn on the debate between civic duty and rewarding participants as it relates to crowd sourcing for public services. By rewarding ideas with financial gain, you create the obvious incentive of participation alongside attracting high quality ideas. However, you also incentivize protectionism – people wanting to guard their ideas in order protect this potential financial gain. One of the many benefits I have read about when it comes to open innovation is people sharing and iterating off each others ideas. This might sound a little utopian, but I think its an idea worth considering in the public service arena – where public contribution is ideally the driver for innovation over profitability. As a former military person, open innovation challenges where quite successful even without financial compensation. Ideas were published in innovation journals, and people openly provided suggestions/critiques or even suggested integrating ideas with their own. The central premise of this argument is that if you don’t tie money to projects, people become a lot more open to sharing their ideas. This could also help out local governments that don’t have the money or resources to provide compensation that is competitive with the private sector.
Thanks for the great read Aparna. I agree with Sarah that the concern is more with attracting the right co-creators vice trying to maintain the customer base. In very simplistic terms, creating value comes first, customers come second. My biggest concern is managing the stream of co-creators. You want to attract as many as possible, but ideally you want to identify the high quality creators and make it a point not to lose them to larger, more established companies (as Sarah pointed out). In other words, this open innovation is less about trying to match as many product ideas to curious consumers and more about trying to identify untapped talent. With that being said, building a tiered system that rewards top designers with a higher cut of revenue might be a way to start. Perhaps better is to offer employment to these star designers in order to build portfolios from the grassroots up. With proper marketing, these star designers will establish company brand, create sticky customers and minimize customers turning to competitor entrants.
Great piece. I would argue that given the current climate, investing in risk minimization is on par with investing in new features. Normally I would favor new features over risk minimization in a burgeoning industry, because risk tolerance is much higher when there is high growth potential and a reliable competitive edge. However, public sentiment toward companies like InMobi is turning, and with public sentiment comes government regulation that ushers in the direct targeting of companies to set an example. Instead, a potential increased investment in consumer data and advertiser’s brand protection could become a source of competitive advantage by itself. In other words, InMobi has an opportunity to brand themselves as a possible market leader in consumer and business data protection. The potential for AI to detect fraud is obviously a proven concept, so tapping into this “other” emerging market is also a convenient way to diversify InMobi’s business opportunities.
I find intellectual property protection a fascinating topic, especially when it comes to the burgeoning 3D printer market. I agree that Disney might need to rethink how they can tackle this issue in such a way that they can harness the momentum of this industry growth vice trying to push back against it. This topic reminds me a lot about the issues with shared music sites that caused a lot of controversy among music artists. If Disney were to pursue legal action, they would be unable to go after all individual infringements, but they could go after a random selection to set an example. This was actually a tactic used by major music labels to try and deter illegal downloading of music. However, as you mentioned, this can also hurt the brand and could be interpreted as “going against” a technological movement. I would instead do as you propose, sell the IP designs at a very reasonable price and allow consumers to enjoy the characters without having to break copyright rules. This is a quick, cheap and effective way of penetrating the market with a strong brand. The only concern is that Disney could lose control of the brand if such IP designs are altered, but this would seem to be an issue no matter what the creative medium (i.e. anyone could draw a Disney character to their own liking, so what’s the difference with a 3d print). On a related note, I believe that Disney delayed the expiration of patents on some of its most iconic characters (i.e. Mickey Mouse), but this is only a matter of time before it becomes public domain. Perhaps this is an ideal time for Disney to tap into open innovation while they still have control.
I think John Smithwick brings up a really good point about the limitations of scale. I would imagine that as 3D printing becomes more mainstream, the need to effectively “lease” someone else’s printer to produce your product might be quite limited, especially in the B2B arena where businesses have the capital to own their own printers. The B2C market might have a little more life left in it as 3D printers are still a novelty. However, where I really see scale here is the intellectual side. By integrating ideas and iterating off others peoples’ shared designs, 3D hubs could reap the benefits of the network effect and be a catalyst for cutting edge ideas. I would recommend that the company really invest in a structure that incentivizes idea sharing. For instance, the platform could recognize star performers employing a user rating system (like Yelp) for their designs, or the company could measure the frequency that individual designs get iterated upon as a way to identify quality. This could be an ideal way to access untapped, human intellectual capital across the globe. Furthermore, it could incentivize people who are trying to make a name for themselves and are looking for stronger hiring credentials.
Great piece on a very relevant and controversial topic. The issues that Facebook and other social media companies face are essentially unchartered territory, so it is very difficult to provide an airtight argument backed by historical lessons or academic research. Instead, we are faced with a more “learn as we go” process, especially when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of machine learning and its influence on social media.
Your last question about managing dissenting views is intriguing, and I also read the article – “Explainer: How Facebook Has Become The World’s Largest Echo Chamber” to get a sense of how and why one might feel that Facebook has more of a social responsibility. One part that struck me was that many of Facebook’s algorithms run off the individual’s personal decision making. For instance, if I don’t engage with someone that holds an opinion different to mine, then that person’s contributions get removed from my newsfeed. If I engage with someone I do agree with, I contribute to building my own echo chamber. I agree this could be problematic, but the algorithm simply responded to my own actions. If I am a person that enjoys debate, my newsfeed might be quite the opposite of an echo chamber. In other words, we create the echo chamber, not necessarily the algorithms. This leads me to my final point – having a private company trying to manage the direction of discourse, even if its for a “supposedly” good purpose, is a little concerning to me for a number a reasons. There is just too much room for error and subjectivity on behalf of the private company. Instead, I think it comes down more to personal accountability and choice. If we are concerned about echo chambers, then perhaps we need to change our own habits vice having a private company try to change them for us.