Open Innovation Design : Time for a new design paradigm for emergency and crisis response information technology?

Open Innovation Design : Time for a new design paradigm for emergency and crisis response information technology?

Open innovation has during the last few years gained enormous attention as a theory that describe and prescribe how companies must open-up their often too closed innovation processes. I have by no means not been affected by this trend and the exciting research that is done using an Open Innovation-perspective in the domain of information technology. There are many interesting and promising activities going on, exploring how Open Innovation can be used in a set of industries and for a range of products and services. There are numerous papers on Open Innovation processes, Open Innovation Business Models, Open Innovation Strategy Design, etc. (see also research on open innovation at University of Gothenburg, Department of Applied IT)

Over the last few months, it has been perfectly clear that Swedish emergency and crisis response and management would benefit from Open Innovation Design. Open Innovation Design has the potential to provide a completely new paradigm for the design of information technology use for emergency and crisis response. A key challenge for any solution provider is to balance the requirements in a local situated work practice with the general requirements on a global level. These organizations must deliver solutions that have a good fit on a local level while at the same time provide a design that could scale on a global level. Open Innovation Design for information technology in emergency and crisis response does not mean the same as open source. What I am looking for is a design paradigm that can balance between the local practice focus and a global focus.

Last week, Eric Monterio, TNU in Norway gave a talk at a research seminar where he explicitly said that user participation in design work does not scale. The idea of user involvement in the design process must be reinvented in order to also account for the of designing for a global market, for users that it would be too costly to involve in one organizations product development process.

More, the most exciting new services can not to attributed to design activities in a single organization or even been linked to a nice and rational design process. The heterogeneity of designers for bits and pieces of a final application design is complex. Understanding and making use of such complex processes requires new approaches. Open Innovation Design could perhaps be the concept that could describe and prescribe how practical application design should be innovated for global design challenges. I would suspect that we will see a massive stream of research in this direction. There are already a lot of interesting work going on.

2 thoughts on “Open Innovation Design : Time for a new design paradigm for emergency and crisis response information technology?

  1. To some extent, there is an opportunity there for Open Innovation, but I have a problem with an attemp to commercialise innovative ideas that may have been provided without some form of recognition. That creates an unrewarding situation for someone with ideas. This creates a natural tendancy for those that support an open approach to tend towards true open source, rather than a partially open, and strongly commercial process.Given the low funding often applied to emergency management agencies, relative to their demands, I think there is unfortunately less potential to commercialise some technologies, and true open source may be the only way to deliver an innovative, global, public good – such as Sahana.

  2. Hi Gavin, Thank you for a fast response to my idea on Open Innovation Design. As you have noted, I have not come up with a consistent plan for this yet. I do agree with your worries. The current situation with low or limited financial streams in for these purposes, combined with the lack of mechanisms for rewarding people that provide innovative ideas, these two things create an dis-innovative environment. However, look at it from a different view. The total global spendings for the emergency and crisis domain are substantial. Industrial corporations see a huge market potential for IT in this domain. So basically, what we need is a mechanism to link a collection of brilliant ideas to the various industrial development projects. Industry must open up their R&D-processes and start to acknowledge and pay for commercially interesting ideas. The brilliant people must start to collaborate among themselves and package their "product" so that it can be licensed to industry. The whole point of commercializing technology in this domain is to generate funding for early initiatives so that funding that is re-cycled in the system can generate new innovative ideas. Over time, this would become a very productive and efficient process. A problem is of course that industry still apply a closed innovation process, and the people with the good ideas still do not collaborate on the necessary scale in order to be able to package their ideas as a product or services. I do believe that we could outline an Open Innovation Design approach to improve this. But it would be hard work and also require that we do not see money and business agreements as something less good. The level of money and the content of such business agreements should always be debated but the structure is necessary.

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