IMAGINE a planetarium-style presentation about the future of technology, followed by a tour of dozens of hands-on exhibits — whether of sandlike microparticles that flow like liquid in a beaker, pictures that appear three-dimensional or concrete that floats.
In a world of online user communities, social media, interactive blogs and other technological means for companies to elicit customer feedback, you might think that face-to-face interaction is a thing of the past. Think again.
As a company, 3M is at the forefront of a movement that appears to be gaining traction: customer innovation centers, typically located near company research facilities, that provide a forum for meeting with corporate customers and engaging them directly in the innovation process.
When many people hear the name 3M, they may think only of canary-colored Post-it notes. But the company is applying wide-ranging technical expertise to a portfolio of products including transportation systems, dental and medical devices and electronics. One of its latest is a pocket-sized LED projector that connects to cellphones, P.D.A.’s and digital cameras.
The company opened its first customer innovation center in Sumitomo, Japan, in 1997, followed by others throughout the world, including sites in Brazil, Germany, India, China and Russia. This month, it announced that it would open its 23rd center next year, in Dubai.
The idea behind the centers is to foster innovation by combining a richer understanding of customer needs with creative links among 3M technologies. “Being customer-driven doesn’t mean asking customers what they want and then giving it to them,” says Ranjay Gulati, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s about building a deep awareness of how the customer uses your product.”
Professor Gulati recently completed a book, “(Re) (Organize) for Resilience,” about how to make customers the center of a business.
A typical customer day at a 3M center begins with a team from a visiting company presenting an overview of their business to a group of 3M marketing and technology experts who pepper them with open-ended questions. The goal is to understand “what our customers are trying to accomplish, not what they say they need,” says John Horn, vice president for research and development at 3M’s industrial and transportation business.
Next is a visit to the “World of Innovation” showroom. The company has more than 40 of what it calls technology platforms — core technologies in areas like optical films, reflective materials, abrasives and adhesives — that can potentially be combined and applied to meet a range of needs in different markets. By exposing customers to these platforms, 3M hopes to prompt the type of novel connections — like using dental technology to improve car parts — that drive innovative solutions. “We never show completed products,” Dr. Horn says. “Doing that would constrain people’s thinking.”
The Latest on: Invention
via Google News
The Latest on: Invention
- The 1 Invention That Will Let Undersea Drones Finally Shoot Guns Underwateron March 26, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Key Point: Every military wants more ways to win future wars. This is the story of a new kind of ammunition that has solved a long-time problem. Until recently, underwater firearms have been niche ...
- Coronavirus and the mother of invention: The craft of making homemade face maskson March 26, 2020 at 5:36 am
Coronavirus and the mother of invention: The craft of making homemade face masks "If you and I are talking and I sneeze ... , it's going to catch that." Check out this story on tallahassee.com: https: ...
- ‘I Was Always Astounded by the Level of Constant Invention’: On Terrence McNallyon March 25, 2020 at 12:58 pm
Speaking as somebody slow and miserable like me,” Kushner laughs, “I was always astounded by the level of constant invention.” In fact, McNally’s success can sometimes, paradoxically, cloud our view ...
- Rakuten Joins the Open Invention Network Communityon March 24, 2020 at 11:30 pm
Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Rakuten, Inc. has joined as a.
- Virus Outbreak: Local doctor’s invention adopted in Philippineson March 24, 2020 at 9:08 am
Lai on Saturday shared his design on Facebook and gave permission for its noncommercial use. His invention was reported by the Central News Agency (CNA) and several other local media outlets. Legaspi ...
- Pandemic: The Invention of a Disease Called Fearon March 23, 2020 at 1:47 am
The word ‘pandemic’ bears a similarity to the word ‘panic’ and indeed ‘pandemonium’. In fact ‘pandemic’ evokes an almost instant flush of fear in those easily manipulated by mass media, before any ...
- 'Greatest invention since the TV:' If you love your Instant Pot, you need this blender—get it for $60 at Walmarton March 22, 2020 at 8:49 am
Don't miss this deal on the do-it-all blender that Instant Pot fans are raving about—save more than 33 percent.
- The Greatest Invention from the Year You Were Bornon March 20, 2020 at 5:17 pm
Between the 1950s and today, scientific and technological innovations have revolutionized the lives we lead, from the hospital to outer space to the kitchen. These are the most impactful inventions of ...
- NUS invention: The world's first aerogels made from scrap rubber tireson March 18, 2020 at 6:35 am
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has achieved a major technological breakthrough by converting waste rubber tyres into super-light aerogels that have a wide range ...
via Bing News