3 March 2006

User-led innovation projects at BBC

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In her Outside Innovation blog, best-selling author and management consultant Patty Seybold engages MIT professor Eric von Hippel (author of Democratizing Innovation) in a lively debate about lead users and lead customers.

In a response Matt Locke, Head of Creative Research and Development of BBC New Media, reports on the user-led innovation projects at the BBC:

“You might be interested in the open innovation projects we’re developing at BBC New Media in the UK. I’ve long been a fan of Eric Von Hippel’s ideas on user innovation, and we launched our own ‘toolkit’ environment last May – http://backstage.bbc.co.uk

Backstage provides RSS feeds of BBC news, weather and other content, and encourages lead-users to ‘build your stuff with our stuff’. The resulting ideas and prototypes are hosted on users sites, but linked to from the backstage site. We’ve see a huge number of prototypes generated by this community, and we’re starting to go out to the developers and commission some of the prototypes into full services. We’re also experimenting with design challenges on the site (e.g. a recent competition to ‘hack the tv schedule’).

The main driver for launching backstage was the recognition that users were hacking their own services using our content anyway, and that we should embrace this and provide the tools to make it easier, rather than rty and stop it. We’re also developing other open innovation projects to increase the number of ideas we get from outside the BBC. The second of these – Innovation Labs – is aimed at independent New Media companies in the UK, and we’re just about to go into 3 weeks of rapid prototyping with teams selected through this process. The innovation Labs site is at http://open.bbc.co.uk/labs“.

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