There is an upsurge of contests and competition across Nigeria. From entertaining to increasing customer followership, these events are continually becoming part of our culture as a nation. Some of these contests entertain as well add more value to the cognitive and non-cognitive capabilities of participants. Of them all, I am impressed with the recently concluded maiden Unilever Nigeria IdeaTrophy®. It is an open source method for gaining breakthrough insights on products and processes.
It was designed by Unilever in 2001 to challenge undergraduate to offer ideas that will address business cases around their brands or functions. As an engagement of university students in real business cases; it offers an opportunity to gain transferable skills such as team development, presentation prowess, and communication. I commend the leadership of Unilever Nigeria in seeing the appropriateness of extending the program to Nigerian Universities.
The search for ideas is here with us now; we expect to see more multinational Organizations (MNCs) and local companies in Nigeria find the ground fertile at generating external sources of innovation.
The successes of activities such P&G Connect +Develop; Dell IdeaStorm ; MyStarbuckIdea; InnovatewithKraft ; and OpenInnovationSaraLee has confirmed how much speed and variety can be gained in the new product development process. P&G product line is a testimony. It has launch over 100 new products through her Connect+ Develop program.
Another shade of market for idea is taking root in Nigeria called ecosystem investing. This allows established organizations to create strategic alliance or partnership with small and medium enterprises owners in gaining insight to sound business operation as well as expanding their capabilities( both sides) and extending adoption or usage of their product.
As William Holstein wrote in Hotbeds of Innovation; it offers the established companies a chance to harvest ideas without taking equity stake in such enterprises, while tapping into new markets. Google Nigeria through initiatives such G-Nigeria 2011 and GNBO( Get Nigerian Business Online) is effectively pushing her products, while building enterprises ; and ultimately gaining customer insights.
As much as it serves the customers, the ultimate beneficiary is the company, it adds up to their bottom line and product offerings.
Imagine how else Starbuck would have sustain her offering beyond the ingenuity of Howard Shultz and her product development team; if not by accessing the market for ideas just as we source funds through the capital market or money market.
The charge goes to the local Nigerian companies and MNCs with presence here to take advantage of our population and diversity to create the next money spinning products through open innovation or ecosystem investing activities in Nigeria.