CO-CREATION IS A POWERFUL METHOD FOR SOFTWARE INNOVATION

For years, firms gambled that their expensive software development projects would meet customers’ needs. Customer-facing processes were designed from the inside out, and were built from the company’s perspective. Customers adapted their use to the company’s approach and processes. We’ve all used this kind of software. We’ve all had similar feelings of frustration.

It’s not that these software companies set out to frustrate their customers. They conducted surveys, talked to users to learn about needed functions, and wrote detailed specifications to assure the software was faithfully built to match what the customer wanted. These efforts were supposed to yield market-leading products. Yet that’s perhaps the exception and not the rule. What happened?

For software, from relatively simple apps to sophisticated B2B enterprise solutions, customers can’t fully articulate their exact needs and engineers typically develop a solution with only a partial understanding of how the software should work. Each new software solution is a journey into the new; and it turns out that humans can’t fully articulate their exact needs for products they have never experienced. 

Over the past decade, a movement, co-creation, has been growing to bridge this gap, from consumer products to aircraft to software, the process of collaborating directly with end users to create products that more closely meet exact user needs is a proven path towards innovating better solutions.

 “Co-creation is the joint creation of value by the company and the customer; allowing the customer to co-construct the service experience to suit their context.”

Co-creation is process of face-to-face active collaboration for the innovation of mutually beneficial products, services, or experiences. The co-creation process elicits deep insights from participants — and translates those insights into tangible prototypes that can be evaluated in real time. It mitigates the risk of software projects missing the mark. That’s because it can identify which elements of the software provide value and generate ideas for how to fix the ones that don’t in collaborative sessions. 

For software, co-creation is a deeply collaborative way to create solutions together, yet our experience is that it is outside of how most companies view information technology. Many still think about IT in its traditional role: to buy, integrate, and implement software. While it takes new cultural and organisational muscle to make the change to co-creation, advances in technology and software architecture make the transition more urgent.

Software modules enable a powerful characteristic of co-creation: the rapid construction of prototypes that approximate a market ready solution and enable teams to experiment towards the best combination of solutions.

Consider that as software has become more modular and re-usable, it has become more like the Lego toy system of interchangeable parts. Modularisation enables software firms to work collaboratively with customers to develop their products quickly by cycling through ideas and potential solutions in plug and play prototype configurations that can be quickly understood, evaluated and iterated.

By developing new ideas in an agile manner with co-creation, risks are significantly reduced. It is a business model that is unexplored territory for many companies. As software development experts, Consulteer can catalyse development by collaborating with clients in co-creation projects that vastly speed up development cycles and result in more innovative, effective and relevant software solutions. 

Thanks for reading this post. I invite your comments and ask you to share this post with others who you think may find it useful. My next post will dive deeper into the co-creation approach and its benefits.