Hello SF (from the MCPC2011 Conference)
I attended the 2011 World Conference on Mass Customization, Personalization, and CoCreation (MCPC 2011), where this year focused on “Bridging mass customization and open innovation”. The conference brought together industry, academia, and government to present business models, research, projects, and papers that explore, explain, and implement concepts of Open Innovation and Mass Customization. You might be asking what is mass customization? What is open innovation? And why is this relevant to government and to the SF Department of Technology?
Mass customization is a business concept that explains a relationship between producers and consumers where customers co-create products and services with sellers. Industry examples are Caseable, Vastram, Zazzle, Gemvara, while a seminal work on the concept is: Pine, B. Joseph II, “Mass Customization - The New Frontier in Business Competition,” Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Mass., 1993. For more contemporary info, see Frank Pillar's blog, one of the conference organizers and foremost authorities on the topic. Open Innovation is a concept that considers leveraging partners to co-create products and services, as opposed to closed innovation, where organizations work in isolation.
This framework is used in R&D departments in Ford, HP, Daimler, Xerox to name a few, is utilized in government agencies such as NASA, USPTO, EU Commission, and in cities such as NYC, Vienna, Montreal, and of course San Francisco. The concept was developed by Henry Chesbrough (University of California, Berkeley director of the HAAS business school program in Open Innovation, his newest work is: Chesbrough, Henry, “Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era,” Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2011. Why is Open Innovation relevant to government in general and to the SF Department of Technology in particular? Limited resources. Vibrant community. Like most public non-profit agencies, the City of San Francisco is often constrained by resource availability, budgets, and red tape. Needing to validate the spending of tax payer money is tricky when investing in technology, primarily because of Gordon Moore and his painfully accurate law that predicts the exponential growth of technology - often times proving a solution obsolete soon after (sometimes even before) it is launched. That said, we in SF have one of the strongest technology development communities in the world. Yes the world, that is not an exaggeration. And not only is this community technologically savvy, but it is also entrepreneurial and civic-minded. There is certainly no shortage of citizens willing to volunteer their expertise (think CodeForAmerica) and organizations with formalized policies for supporting those efforts (think Google 20%) along with organizations having their own support for social development projects (think Google.org). So the big question: How do we connect demand (civic challenges and limited resources in government) to supply (vibrant community) to define and solve civic challenges? This conference was of particular interest to me because I believe that Open Innovation can be a method of governance to solve civic challenges. That Open Innovation platforms can be built to customize government services to create better experiences between government and citizens (how we live and work in our city). And now during this time of economic crisis it is particularly important to consider investing in sustainable initiatives such as strengthening and empowering a community, rather than internally building a
technology product that incurs high development and maintenance costs to prevent it from obsolescence right out of the gate. Some highlights: Cars: Products or Services? o Henry Chesbrough’s keynote speech. Products are yesterday...Services are now. A car is no longer only a product, but also, enables services by balancing its utilization differential through shared use and shared payment. Think Zipcar, City Carshare. New markets are formed around shifting one’s perception of the car from a product to a service enabler. o This was echoed by a presentation by Daimler and its Car2Go project, where they are designing transport systems that rely on the car as a shared space. I thought this was great, a car company’s way of coming to terms with the fact that cars are just not as important to people as they used to be. o Another approach in the automotive industry was presented by TJ Giuli from Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. Ford has opened their API to some Michigan U. students and other “trusted partners” such as Pandora and Stitcher to develop applications. This is a good first step BUT I think its important for Ford to open its API beyond “trusted partners” and push the potential for entrepreneurs to create new businesses otherwise this could be seen as Ford paying very little for alot of creativity and work. SF tore it up! We are leaders in this space and I am excited to build and strengthen our position. o Did you know that Square was prototyped at TechShop?! Or ever heard of a company going from concept to $1,000,000 in 6 months? Most companies procurement departments require more lead time! TechShop again demonstrating that it is amazing and that Open Innovation works. o Tim Moore from BART and Donovan Corliss from SFMTA were awesome during the Smart Transportation panel organized by Louise Guay! Attendees were impressed by the work being done. In fact, one attendee asked how did BART incentivize because it has more applications then the Whitehouse Open Innovation initiative?! Tim Moore’s answer: We were first :) and worked tirelessly to support the development community. What’s in it for me? This question was well considered by two presentations on the Open Innovation Strategy and Capabilities I panel: o The Battistella/Nonino paper considered web app features that encouraged participation and the Aitamurto/Konkkola paper collected data from user responses where findings suggested that recognition and being a part of a community were important factors. Papers:
“What drives Collective Innovation? Exploring the system of drivers for motivations in open innovation web-based platforms” by Cinzia Battistella and Fabio Nonino “Value in Co-Created Content Production in Magazine, Publishing: Case study of co-creation in three Scandinavian magazine brands” by Tanja Aitamurto, Saara Konkkola. Open Government: Hype or Revolution? o The presentation by Dennis Hilgars and Michael Steinbusch “Open Government, Citizen Co-Creation and Gov 2.0: Hype or Revolution?” showed that the Open Innovation project space is rich and diverse. The primary finding of the study (grossly simplified) is that informal relationships produce positive results.
Final thought: I am happy to have begun my new position in the City and County of SF, Dept of Technology by going to the MCPC2011 conference because much of my focus will be on building an OpenSF program with Jay Nath. We already have initiatives that demand very thoughtful consideration with regard to sustainability, incentive models, and partnership networks - all topics discussed during the conference. I feel strongly that the OpenSF program we design will be a big contributor to Open Government research in general.
It is to my great enthusiasm that I end this post by saying welcome to the Shannon in SF blog! There are some GREAT projects in the pipeline...stay tuned!!