Monday, June 19, 2006

Lead-User Innovation

A dedicated few make the world of online communities go round. What blogs, wikis, and message boards reveal are the most talented knowledge workers. The select few act as guides while generating value. Tapping into this talent is proving to be quite lucrative, particularly in the world of marketing, as the article To Charge Up Customers, Put Customers in Charge indicates:

In a time of ever more talented technology enthusiasts, hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers, all connected by Internet-enabled communication... the most intensely engaged users of a product often find new ways to enhance it long before its manufacturer does. Thus... companies that aspire to stand out in fast-moving markets would be wise to invite their smartest users into the product design process.

Consumers are increasingly involved in production, with the Internet facilitating this economic innovation. But not all consumer-producers are equal. Online communities that strive to attract or create sufficiently "smart" users will have a strong competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

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