New Opportunities For Co-Innovation: Mobile and Social Media Platforms

Napkin Labs and Passenger were in the news this week by announcing their platforms that enable co-innovation and research on a bigger and faster scale. Online co-creation technology firm Napkin Labs launched a free app to run on Facebook. Passenger on the other hand has developed a mobile community app that increases member engagement and accelerates the research response.

Napkin Labs’ Brainstorm app

Research  Live reports:

The Brainstorm app allows companies to collect ideas and feedback from their fans through their Facebook page. Fans can interact and comment on one another’s ideas and the app can be customised with a company’s branding, images and questions.

The Facebook app is completely free, but Napkin Labs said it will offer some paid-for customisations for larger clients.

Riley Gibson, CEO of Napkin Labs said:

“Most companies use social media to react to customers, but we’re trying to flip that model. The Brainstorm app brings engaging with customers on Facebook to a whole new level, because it gives companies a really simple way to proactively ask for suggestions and ideas right within their Facebook pages. The Netflix fiasco is a great example of what companies can avoid by using Facebook to get feedback from customers.”

Passenger’s iOS mobile app

Press release by Passenger’s mentions the following:

This mobile app enables members to participate in the private community experience via their mobile phone, which increases member engagement and accelerates research response time so brands receive deeper insights and advanced analytics that can be used for product development, marketing, and/or innovation.

With this new mobile app Passenger is expanding its offerings beyond web-based communities, allowing clients to truly leverage the social web to make informed decisions on marketing, research and innovation. The app offers three key features:

  • Ideas: allow members to share their ideas instantly with the ability to include photos/videos.
  • Polls: use push notifications to solicit feedback through a variety of interactive poll types.
  • Discussions: allow members to engage in moderated real-time dialogue.

Jas Dhillon, Passenger’s Chief Product Officer, said:

“This mobile app launch is a huge move forward for Passenger in delivering innovative solutions and tools for our clients. Passenger has always been committed to working with our clients to develop innovative technology solutions that lead to richer insights that inform social business objectives. As such, we are excited about bringing this technology to Android in the near future.”

Be where the audience is

Facebook is becoming the central place, the starting point for people. As in such, it’s an interesting development by Napkin Labs to develop an application that can tap into the large existing communities.

The consideration that has to be made is if tapping into this large crowd is the best set of people to co-innovate. It can produce quantitative insights, but perhaps less qualitative ones. Not every person is a ‘creative customer’ or not every person can be critical. Depending on the goal and phase of co-innovation, a certain type of person adds the most value.

Simultaneously, the Facebook community and the application can act as conductors, to spot the relevant people and co-innovate further in a different setting.

Insights as close as possible to the action

The Passenger mobile application is interesting because it combines social media and mobile. Especially the mobile part is for certain types of research. FMCG can benefit from this, shopper insights for instance are the most qualitative when ‘learned’ as close as possible to the –shopper- action. Having a mobile application that can return information in the right context, is a plus.

Ubiquitous co-innovation

Whatever perspective we take, ubiquity offers opportunities. Be it either from the social media perspective, engaging and innovating with consumers where they are concentrated, or when it comes to place and time for contextual enhancement “Research Everywhere”.


Co-innovation enables faster and better output. A McKinsey research shows that it can produce better output and more succesful market introductions. Nicolas Bry hits the nail with his following remark on innovation:

Design “with”, rather than design “for”

We are familiar with innovation ecosystems nowadays : universities, R&D centers, technological platforms for exchanges, developers communities, the winning corporation is the one who manages optimal integration and attracts best skills and partnerships from outside.

External participation in the innovation process requires transformation and adaptation in culture, mindset and processes.

Not only innovation

It’s the entire organization that transforms, it’s the entire organization that needs to have the culture and mindset that external stakeholders shouldn’t be perceived as passive, but as partners. People that can be designed with, rather than designed for.

If innovation would be the only function to transform, it clashes with the rest of the organization, resulting in less better output than could have been. The challenge is to build best-fit, increasingly efficient outcomes across the business by opening up the organization for external participation.

What is your opinion on these kind of co-innovation tools? What challenges might co-innovation encounter if it is being deployed via apps and platforms like these?

By Gianluigi Cuccureddu

About the author:

Gianluigi CuccuredduGianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, open business, new media and marketing. He is also Managing Partner of the 90:10 Group, a global Open Business consultancy, which helps clients open their activity directly and indirectly to external stakeholders through the use of social media, its data and technologies for the purpose of competitive advantages in marketing, service- and product innovation.