This is the second in a series of question-and-answer blog posts with the CEOs of the vendors included in my recent Forrester Wave: Co-Creation Contest Vendors, Q3 2011 (blog and report).

Today we’re talking with Dr. Johann Fuller, CEO of Hyve AG. Hyve AG, a Munich, Germany-based firm, was identified as a "Leader" in that report.

Doug:       Co-creation contests are a new opportunity for product strategy professionals to solve business challenges, but many people are unfamiliar with them. What is your “elevator pitch” to potential clients about co-creation contests and the benefits they deliver?

Johann:   There is no doubt that people have always had great ideas, but in the past often lacked the appropriate means to communicate them. Modern technology, however, has changed the rules of the game and given power as well as extended reach to the individual. People have started to talk freely, share freely and express their opinion freely through social media, and co-creation is able to utilize these untapped resources by turning them into successful product and service solutions. It is really fascinating how innovative, creative and knowledgeable non-professionals – amateurs – are and what they can achieve if they work together in online communities. We at Hyve therefore believe that businesses, products, and services need to be co-created “with” people, instead of “at” them, in order to better meet their needs and desires, benefit from their immense know-how, and also to show them that we listen to what they are saying and that they are well-respected.


Doug:       Why should product strategy professionals consider co-creation a business imperative at this point in time?

Johann:   The emergence of social media and Web 2.0 has led to a democratization of influence. Nowadays, people have a voice and are able to make or break brands. For exactly this reason, companies absolutely need to treat consumers as active and equal partners rather than passive recipients in order to benefit from their ideas. Utilizing the cumulative knowledge and creativity resulting from co-creation serves as an accelerator of innovation, improves service quality and reinforces customer retention, consequently leading to an increase inefficiency and a reduction of costs in the long-term. Companies can only offer value propositions, but it is the consumers who create value through using and accepting th propositions. So, co-creation becomes the imperative.


Doug:       Our clients often want to prove ROI before pursuing new engagements. How do you help clients prove ROI for co-creation contest projects?

Johann:   We always try to visualize and emphasize the value that co-creation projects are able to capture. Imagine, for example, you as a client were looking for innovative product concepts or designs. Traditionally you would approach several design agencies and request a couple of alternatives worth maybe €2000-€3000 each. Co-creation in turn, offers you a tremendous multiple of different ideas, designs and concepts. You get a holistic view which you could not afford at all or would cost you at least hundreds of thousands of Euros. Additionally the public nature of co-creation projects offers undreamed-of possibilities to interact with your customers, build up relationships with them, and get authentic and constructive feedback also resulting in an increase of brand awareness and trust.


Doug:       Last question: How is your business evolving to meet clients’ future needs for co-creation?

Johann:   The number one task for any company offering co-creation services is living and preaching it internally as well. Hyve maintains its own IdeaPool, for instance, a co-creation platform where internal challenges are realized. We strongly believe in a community-based and open approach to success, meaning that we are continuously talking to our clients about needs, issues and challenges they face. At the same time we are continually talking with consumers and community members engaging in our projects. This ensures our ability to constantly evaluate, improve and customize the methods, solutions and products we offer and helps us grow both as a company and a community. Furthermore, we stay on top of and heavily engage in scientific research and the latest developments in order to maintain and extend our expertise in the fields of co-creation. Ideally, we provide social spaces which are already co-created. Hyve only serves as catalyst of valuable interactions between companies and their stakeholders or nucleus of networks. 

Next up: Answers to the same questions from Pete Ryder, President of jovoto.