Continuous value creation with the customer
Responding to today’s challenges requires companies to harness people’s agility and creativity. Co-creation offers an entirely new kind of potential to create value in a network consisting of customers and partners as well as competitors. When its comes to co-creation, openness and transparency pay off.
In a traditional model of value creation, wisdom lies in the designer of the service or product: they have created a need for the customer and the best possible product to meet it. But now is the time to wake up to fact that digitalization has already democratized data management, and companies no longer have exclusive rights to it. As digital services are easy to copy and their lifespan shortens, the focus shifts more towards the continuous development of services.
Digitalization is still often perceived as merely a technological change. Instead, we should see how new technologies change customers’ – people’s – expectations and ways of thinking from passive consumers to active participants. Digitalization creates completely new possibilities to tap into more detailed information on the wishes and behaviors of customers and to include them as part of the value creation process. At the core of digitalization, as well as smarter business, is not tools – it’s people.
Be a genuine partner to your network
If a hundred years ago industrialization created efficiency by multiplication, today’s goal is to scale creativity by collaborating with the entire value-creating ecosystem, from competitors and partners to customers’ customers. Through co-creation, value is created throughout the network of actors whenever its members meet. Instead of a separate marketed product, the focus is on the experience: a forum organized around individuals. A company that genuinely utilizes its network is smarter and more agile and tolerates better the instability of its operational environment. The potential stemming from real encounters is enormous compared to the past, where value was only generated at end of the production process.
The employees of a successful company experience genuine ownership of the customer’s projects.
A person living in the midst of digitalization expects personalized services and products, and we are in fact seeing a transition from mass production towards a new kind of craftmanship. Responding to diverse individual needs with customized products is not easy. In order to succeed in co-creation, a company must be able to listen and to put itself in other people’s shoes. Collaboration will fail right off the bat if there is no transparency of processes. When we are dealing with the customer’s strategic needs, it’s important that marketing, product development and delivery run smoothly. Forecasting also becomes increasingly challenging as more parties participate in value creation.
In a competitive marketplace, the employees of a successful company experience genuine ownership of the customer’s projects. A Lean organization, where employees are respected and authorized to create value, supports the processes of co-creation. It’s important to view co-creation as a process instead of individual acts. The key is the journey itself, during which, through intense collaboration, a company becomes a trusted partner for its entire network.
Seppo Kuula is the CEO of Enfo