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The Power of Innomediation

In recent years, many companies have learned to use the Internet as a powerful platform for collaborating directly with customers on innovation. But direct interactions — facilitated by customer advisory panels, online communities and product-design tool kits — have limitations. They don’t always allow companies to reach the right customers at the right time and in the right context. Thus, to fully exploit the Internet as an enabler of innovation, companies need to complement their direct channels of customer interaction by using third parties that can help them bridge gaps in customer knowledge. The authors call this process of indirect, or mediated, innovation innomediation and the third-party actors at the center of it innomediaries.

In their research, the authors identified three distinct types of innomediary and observed how each one can help companies acquire different forms of customer knowledge. Using case studies, they suggest ways in which companies can begin to think about exploiting the power of these emerging intermediaries. For businesses that learn to use customer knowledge from both direct and indirect sources, the Internet holds the key to a multichannel innovation strategy.

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