Recommendations to Enhance Communication With Users Through Prototypes and to Assist Open Innovation: A Case Study in a Developing Country

Recommendations to Enhance Communication With Users Through Prototypes and to Assist Open Innovation: A Case Study in a Developing Country

Thiago Bertolini dos Santos (University of São Paulo – São Carlos, Brazil), Luiza de Castro Olivan (Medical School of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil), Luísa Cagica Carvalho (Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal, Portugal & Universidade de Évora, Portugal), Lílian Neto Aguiar Ricz (Medical School of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil) and Janaina Mascarenhas Hornos da Costa (University of São Paulo – São Carlos, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7937-3.ch009
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Innovation has been increasingly becoming a major competitive differential for companies. However, innovation alone is not enough. Innovations encompass new products to new business models, but they need well-defined strategies to deliver value according to the market needs and to be well accepted. Innovations looking at differentials for the users should consider their problems, including products and services, so that they can promote solutions to meet the users' expectations. Therefore, the involvement of stakeholders in the innovation process who are beyond the organisation's frontiers, such as users, is important as it allows the inclusion of new abilities, resources, and knowledge in the process of development.
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Developing countries frequently seek ways to grow economically, and innovation can be considered a means of providing this growth (Vrgovic et al., 2012). According to Johnson (2001), innovation is any type of change in current patterns made which is available to the market to deliver value, thus innovation can arise from an idea for a new product, new service or new business model.

This chapter will address open innovation in the product development process (PDP). The PDP is defined by Rozenfeld et al. (2006) as a set of activities capable of creating specifications for product and its production considering the market needs and technological restrictions. Throughout the PDP, companies can analyse the context of product use, identify the needs of both market and users, and propose solutions that aggregate value and meet the users’ expectations by making their product more competitive (Pietzsch et al., 2009, Rozenfeld et al., 2006, Vincent, 2004).

Open innovation is a collaborative one which occurs when companies open their innovation frontiers and collaborate among themselves and with others interested in the project by exchanging knowledge, resources and abilities. This often enables the resolution of the need for internal resources and fosters, mainly with work specialisation, the exchange of improved mechanisms among the different parties involved to increase innovation returns (Katzy, Turgut, Holzmann, 2013).

In this case, an important practice of open innovation is the user’s active involvement. The participation of the user allows the development team to acquire new knowledge, resources and abilities, which can increase the likelihood of successful innovation.

In large companies, managing open innovation is challenging. Open innovation usually begins in a more decentralised way where some divisions are somehow being practised. For the organisation of open innovation it is necessary to look at the degree of centralisation and the level of autonomy of different organisational units within the large enterprise (Chesbrough, 2003).

Thereby, a PDP with a well-structured communication system allows for efficient development of the product. This enables re-feeding of the PDP with relevant information as well as solution for challenges and obstacles for the final product production. Therefore, it is essential to implement communication strategies during this process (Kunsch, 2003).

These communication strategies are crucial for structuring the communication between development team and users during the product development process. Therefore, message receivers, message objectives and reception analysis will be considered. This helps the parties to be in constant communication with each other and contributes to the participation of the user in the project (Bueno, 2003).

Prototype is a tool for improving both communication strategy and active participation of the user by assisting the parties involved in the project to interact with each other, to express their ideas, to reach common understanding, to assess and validate the project for an innovative product meeting the users’ expectations accordingly (Brennan, Downs, Casper, 2010, Neubeck et al., 2016, Rudd, Stern, Isensee, 1996).

That said, prototype becomes an important communication tool for aggregating more value to open innovation. Communication and understanding of the project by the involved parties are key factors for a successful open innovation, since they facilitate the direction of the project, product, decision-making process and identification of the users’ needs (Rudd, Stern, Isensee, 1996).

Therefore, this chapter presents a case study in Brazil in order to understand the communication between development team and users of innovative products by means of prototypes. By analysing the case study as well as communication theories and techniques, it was possible to make recommendations to assist the development team in communicating efficiently with users during prototype tests of healthcare products.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Product Development: Typically refers to all of the stages involved in bringing a product from concept or idea to its release into the market and beyond. In other words, product development incorporates a product’s entire journey.

Prototype: A prototype is a draft version of a product enabling individuals to explore their own ideas and show the intention regarding the overall design concept for users before investing time and money into its development. The prototype can be anything from paper drawings (low-fidelity) to something allowing click-through for fully functioning site (high-fidelity).

Communication: It is simply the act of transferring information from one person to another or from one place to another. Although this is a simple definition, when one thinks of how we can communicate, the subject becomes much more complex. There are several categories of communication and more than one can occur at any time. Communication can be verbal or non-verbal.

Open Innovation: The open innovation model offers a new approach to research, development and innovation to companies through the use of their own research, innovation, and innovative strategies not used in their business.

User Engagement: It is an assessment of an individual's response to some type of offering, such as a product, a service or website. An individual's degree of engagement may be determined directly through his/her interaction or may be evaluated through the observation of his/her behaviours. A website user, for example, might click links, make comments, download documents and watch videos, among other possibilities. In a marketing context, the user’s engagement is often referred to as customer engagement (CE).

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