Let’s be honest, coming up with brand new ideas is not always easy, especially when you’re expected to. Now imagine you need to constantly produce them in order to stay ahead of your competitors. Car manufacturers seem to know exactly what their customers and the market want to see next and then produce exactly the car everyone has been waiting for. (Well, most of the time) They depend on new ideas to not only spark interest, they also need to be just as innovative as their rivals. Where exactly do the OEMs get their ideas for new cars and models and are there methods that work better than others?
Inspiration from IT’s brightest minds
With our world becoming more connected by the minute and new mobility concepts emerging, IT entrepreneurs are increasingly moving into the focus of car manufacturers. What better than to generate ideas and concepts with young entrepreneurs that live and breathe connectivity? It is for this reason that Ford and Audi visited last years Web Summit in Dublin, the largest Startup conference in the world: 33.000 founders, developers and investors. The perfect playground for developing mind-boggling ideas and getting inspired to think outside the box. It’s for this reason that car manufacturers actively seek creative minds, that approach today’s challenges from a new and disruptive angle. Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor company even stated that manufacturers depend on startups, developers and technology companies that don’t come from an automotive background to successfully transition from simple manufacturers to mobility providers.
Inspiration from the inside
Why search for inspiration elsewhere when some of the best ideas might be in your midst and simply need to be brought forward? Another way of staying ahead is using the creative potential your employees offer. After all, they are deeply involved in all processes, know the brand and what it stands for and can also bring the consumers’ point to the table. Daimler was able to save up to 75 million euros in 2014 just by listening to its employees’ ideas. They ranged from optimizing workflows to measures for industrial safety and protecting the environment and resources. In return the employees were rewarded for their ingenuity: they received bonuses of approximately 20 million euros.
Inspiration from your most loyal fans
The most effective product development processes have always been based on a dynamic and complex exchange of ideas and interests among engineers, marketing experts, and, most importantly, the end-consumer. There you have it: Including your customers into the process of developing the next big thing is crucial. They are no longer simply the target group, they also take part in designing. Working closely together with customers offers a bandwidth of insights: What needs to be optimized, what products work well, how does their decision process work. As the rise and fall of a company comes with its customers, including them into all processes and working closely together with them is of utmost importance. There are many different ways of doing so: Workshops and surveys with end consumers are only the beginning.
And as a final note: A team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York was driven by the question of how innovations are made and spent some time observing different projects. Their key finding: Most ideas “happen” by accident! So during all brainstorming sessions and idea workshops never forget that innovations require that tiny bit of luck. The next big thing may be just around the corner with nobody expecting it.
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