Open Innovation in the age of digitization


20 September 2016

Innovation plays an essential part in any successful organization. We don’t need to ask ourselves “why do we innovate;” instead the central question in our day-to-day is “how do we innovate.” One of the key elements in the implementation of a successful strategy that brings long-term tangible results centers on the definition of a methodology that harmonizes and synchronizes: techniques + people + technological tools. Complicated? Not exactly.

Open innovation, also known as OI, is one of the possible pathways that combines both internal and external knowledge in the planning of strategies and R+D projects. It’s also when companies use internal and external channels to bring their product and technology innovations to market. If you want more information regarding the definition and benefits of OI, you should read Alfredo and Fanego’s post on open innovation in Rebel Thinking.

Did you know that 80% of the products we purchased didn’t exist a decade ago? This need to transform and adapt to consumers’ new habits has made it imperative to maintain active design and development cycles for new products and services that help differentiate themselves from the competition. Related to core concepts like agile software development methodologies (scrum, kanban…) Lean Startup, or new ways to create business models like the Business Model Canvas. We should push aside “business plans” that require months of preparation in favor of always being at the forefront and by the consumer’s side as their consumption habits change.

Social Media: Another tool for innovation

Open Innovation isn’t easy, but the current digitalization makes the way towards it much easier. Interaction and participation are crucial for fostering open innovation and social media platforms complete these two requirements perfectly. I am choosing to highlight the following three key benefits derived from this “marriage of convenience”:

  1. Idea generation and directly feedback from the ideas being tested and developed.
  2. Business intelligence that helps to perfect the understanding of the ecosystem in which the development is taking place through monitoring and capturing insights
  3. Identifying key stakeholders who can contribute to centralize innovation initiatives.


We at Good Rebels have already launched Toyota Spain’s Fans’ Lab on Facebook. This initiative that pioneered on the global stage combined 3D printing technology, social media, and co-creation to come up with the brand’s next accessory.


Key Open Innovation Methodologies:

  • Define the change program’s context and objectives: degree of priority, innovation cycle (short/medium/long-term), mission, specific plan with actions and methodologies to put into practice.
  • Identify key stakeholders and the primary skills required: Leadership (create a stream of thought and motivation); innovation (a facilitator contributed by a framework or an outside company that works with processes and creativity); people inside the company (those with the entrepreneurial spirit, operational, familiar with digital trends, etc.)
  • Determine the innovation partner’s role in the impacted business unit: key Communicator and strategist on the Project, attending key meetings, the dissemination of achievement of key milestones.
  • Establish motivating influences: cementing innovative culture, professional protection, and growth, assigning times, tolerating failure, fun spirit, and celebrating successes.
  • Activate the innovative strategic plan with priorities and dedicated business units determined. Workshops and dynamics to take place with internal and external stakeholders. Technological tool set up that will be used to derive knowledge of the customer (trends, new needs, etc.) that will let us conceptualize business value propositions for users.

OI Success Stories

Orange opens itself up to open innovation through the “Imagine with Orange” program.

Orange’s innovation team is taking advantage of the power of crowdsourcing to reap the rewards of collective intelligence and be leading the digital revolution. They’ve developed global platforms that have made co-creation and user collaboration possible.


Fujitsu recently launched its Open Innovation Gateway (OIG) platform aimed at accelerating the implementation of innovation practices.

Aimed at helping both internal and external stakeholders, Fujitsu’s OIG will employ a methodology native to Japan that describes the continuing innovation cycle: Shu-ha-ri

  • Shu (learn): work with partners to identify opportunities and planning.
  • Ha (Break): discover its own strengths and dare to go out of the ecosystem’s comfort zone to stimulate new possibilities.
  • Ri (Create): activating the innovation model with the objective of bringing new products and services to market that let the learning level advance as soon as possible.

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As open innovation matures in very different industries simultaneously, we’re going to see even more success stories. Know of a success story? Share it with us ?.