Democratization of Innovation

Excerpt from Robin Dindayal's blog on July 8, 2022

I'm not sure how I missed this great interview with Eric von Hippel, the author of "Democratizing Innovation," but I wanted to quickly share it with you. In the interview, von Hippel discusses the core topic of his book, user-driven innovation. Upfront, an interesting note is that his research pre-dates Open Source development and was heavily focused on manufacturing, not the Internet.

One quote in the interview that really resonated with me, explained the repercussions of user-level innovation...

"When innovation becomes democratized, many traditional assumptions about innovation and the best ways to innovate are upended. For example, the advantages that the traditional machinery firms have in place with respect to innovation come into question. When innovation resources are cheap and well diffused, what firms ought to do is let a thousand flowers bloom, as they say, and then select the best flower. It no longer makes sense for corporate marketing researchers to go around asking passive consumers what kind of flower they would like, if only they could have it and then, after huge process efforts, decide to develop that flower."

Here at iUpload this is something that we recognized a while ago. As hard as we try, we can't anticipate every single feature that a client would like. So what did we do? Along with exposing our content via RSS/Atom feeds, we also created an API that powers many applications not developed by us. Some great examples can be seen on the site...

The flexibility provided by our API allows clients to quickly/easily request any data (ex: user data, post data, etc.) in any format (XML, HTML, CSV, etc.).

This post wasn't meant to be a sales pitch, but it was meant to express my belief in the Wisdom of Crowds. No matter how many smart people you have (and I think we have a few), you can't anticipate all of the requests from your client. Instead of trying to build every feature possible, build 80% of the features your clients will use and build tools to allow your clients to develop the other 20%.

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Eric von Hippel
Comments | Add Comment

Posted By: fred b (22/07/2021 9:07:10 PM)
Comment: Great post!

Posted By: LB (12/07/2022 1:56:54 AM)
Comment: The importance of a very open and flexible API cannot be understated.