User-oriented Innovation

Sometimes enterprises tend to become standstill with too much defined ideas and processes. The fact of having strong group cohesion with a common thinking could difficult the process of acquiring new ideas or methodologies. Thus, sometimes is necessary to break the walls of organizations or consortiums in order to allow other inputs and different thinking and points of view. User oriented innovation goes further than a simple analysis of the state of art.  In the software R&D world, the idea is to involve a crucial actor inside this environment: the User.

Software market is moving faster and faster. Enterprises need to introduce new applications in short time and they can’t risk to waste time making a product without results. In the other hand, technology and communications are extending very fast and any amateur is performing activities that years ago only professionals with high technical expertise could do. Users have left being simple software consumers to get a very active posture. In addition to this, 80% of the products fail in the market, and it is a consequence of having a technology-focused innovation without taking care of the user needs and requirements. According to this, user-oriented Innovation thinks that these users could play an important role in the development process.

This approach is often linked with the open innovation approach. Some other ideas that come from open innovation are: don’t think that the best experts on the area are the ones we have in our enterprise. The external R&D can generate a lot of value for the enterprise and their ideas are essential for the organisation. Having a good business model Is most important than arriving faster to the market.

The user-oriented innovation is based on 3 main phases. The first one, as all the development processes, is creating the business model and extracting the requirements. But in this case, a big number of the requirements must become from the user side. The user behavior must be analysed in order to get activity models that can guide the process of gathering requirements. In the second phase, or design phase, a set of scenarios are defined and well-focused in order to create a conceptual model of the product showing the functions and relations of their elements inside previous defined concrete context. In development stage, developers can follow agile methodologies in order to make the development process as an integral activity. The product starts as a little snow ball that is becoming bigger in consecutive releases. The development process is broken in ‘sprints’ where developers try to implement all the planned functionalities agreed in a planning meeting before starting each sprint.  In order to link agile methodologies with user-oriented innovation, in this stage, the current release of the product can be showed and presented to the user community. Users can offer feedback and support on the implementation. They can find bugs, recommend modifications and new functionalities, evaluate the usability and give ideas how to re-address the product focus. In this sense, validation of the product is performed jointly between developers, owners and users of the product following an iterative flow. After the validation of an Alfa release, this version becomes as beta release and a new iteration starts. According to this, the development enters in a cycle where the product is each time more complete and satisfies more requirements for users.

In conclusion, user-oriented and open innovation breaks with rigid thinking structure of enterprises and gives them new ideas for the development of a product. Following a user-oriented approach the user participates in the development process giving their requirements, supporting the definition of the project focus and proposing contexts where the product can cover a gap on the society. In addition to this, user community provides feedback and participates on the evaluation of the product releases. Thanks to this involvement, at the end of a development project, the resulting product is closer to the user needs, has a good usability and has several well defined use case where can be applied, three essential aspects that are a guaranty of success.

 

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