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Working Paper No. 29
Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM), Hamburg
Manufacturers usually benefit by dividing their innovation processes into distinct phases in order to ensure that the development activities are performed efficiently in an appropriate sequence. Users usually do not apply such structured processes. They follow a more intuition-driven approach. In this paper we analyze the way users improve or develop novel products. The field of our research is a new and rapidly evolving consumer market, the sport of kite surfing. We identified a sequence that underlies the approaches of user inventors. This sequence consists of two major stages, (1) idea generation and (2) idea realization, each again subdivided. We propose that a manufacturer in the relevant product field can significantly profit from more closely observing such user activities: Better understanding of tacit needs which cannot be derived by applying classical market research methods. Learn about the adequacy of solutions from the user. This may guide their development activities and prevent development of inadequate solutions. Collect user ideas as well as corresponding solution knowledge at very low tariffs and increase reputation as a customer-close organization.
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