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Re-Imagine IPTV: via Lead-User Innovation

NYTimes reports about design innovations that actively include the consumer within the product or service creation process. It's been done already in other industries, and I believe that it's time to utilize this approach to re-imagine the television consumer experience.

Here's a quote from the column that made me think, "why not view IPTV trials through this lens?" Telcos need meaningful points of differention, other than a lower price, and there's no time like the present to engage your trial thought-leader customers. The NYTimes column is entitled "To Charge Up Customers, Put Customers in Charge."
Eric von Hippel, head of the innovation and entrepreneurship group at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, calls this bottom-up phenomenon "lead-user innovation," and has studied its effects in industries from extreme-sports gear to medical equipment.

In a time of ever more talented technology enthusiasts, hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers, all connected by Internet-enabled communication, he says, the most intensely engaged users of a product often find new ways to enhance it long before its manufacturer does. Thus, he argues, companies that aspire to stand out in fast-moving markets would be wise to invite their smartest users into the product design process.

"It's getting cheaper and cheaper for users to innovate on their own," Professor von Hippel said. "This is not traditional market research � asking customers what they want. This is identifying what your most advanced users are already doing and understanding what their innovations mean for the future of your business."

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