The world and markets as they are now are highly complex. Every economic sector is under great pressure to create new value  for its consumers, but what is meant by “valuable”?

What has value for some, may lack value for others. It is no longer about who has  more power in capital or resources, it is about who has the ability to unite human and technological factors and create global,  shared and profound experiences, where innovation starts small and allows them to go further with less individual effort  and more common force. This makes the processes become “co-“: collaborative, cooperative and coordinated. 

Generating alliances that last over time is true collaboration based on respect and the contribution of positive value for both  parties, but also for society because they generate processes of social transformation with economic and environmental  benefits. This new connection between companies, suppliers and people is a form of responsible consumption that seeks a  better use of resources and promotes jobs, competitiveness, growth and innovation. 

Innovating is the result of a process of deep dialogue with our ego and creating alliances between different minds and ideas,  where opportunities to collaborate arise. Organisations today have the possibility of being more agile by innovating when they  open up to the culture of collaborative innovation. This form of innovation represents a new business model to get ahead among  the changes that the traditional economy presents with a view to a contemporary economy. 

Collaborative Innovation takes into account two criteria that are very important for the success of an alliance: the strategic  interest of the collaboration and the efficiency of the process. This has already been seen recently with the arrival of new  technologies that have promoted alternative models of consumption. These models are changing the channels from business  to consumer (B2C) to person-person (P2P). It is known as the sharing economy (or collaborative economy) and it has changed the  way the market makes its decisions, which has favored the development of many companies that satisfy these consumers. 

Collaborative networks were defined by Peter Gloor as a self-motivated team with a collective vision, enabled to achieve a  common goal through exchanging ideas, information and work. They work and are based on internal transparency in  organisations and direct communication, collaborating and sharing knowledge with each other directly. Team members come together with a shared vision, as they are intrinsically motivated to do so, and they try to collaborate to advance the development  of an idea and the most creative solution possible. All initiatives are based on information and communication technologies  that allow the creation of social networks and portals where they can carry out interactions in a massive way. 

Three key aspects that define collaborative innovation are: 

  1. Mass creativity 
  2. Collaboration under a strict code of ethics 
  3. Direct and immediate communication between members of the network 

These premises guarantee working with honesty and internal transparency, making knowledge available to all, and  democratising learning. Uber and Airbnb are two of the companies that best represent these characteristics. Both businesses  are managed through free exchange of services without intermediaries between applicants and suppliers, thus ensuring greater  participation and trust between both parties. 

Machine Learning and AI at the command of innovation 

The way humans collaborate with each other has always been closely linked to technological progress: virtual and mixed reality  to collaborate in parallel mode, Collaborative Artificial Intelligence, advanced 3D and 4D modeling (which enables high  customisation in design and manufacturing) or CSCD (Collaborative Computer Aided Design) that allows the synchronised  exchange of information and interaction with ideas in a data-intensive environment and driven by artificial intelligence. Its own  operation prompts us to think of small-scale solutions and practical responses to existing needs. 

This is how the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) adds contextual intelligence to the entire  collaboration experience. Currently, ML is used in autonomous cars where AI learning is fused with the power of 5G networks,  allowing driving programs to improve their driving progressively, analysing real-time data that they can access through the new  generation cellular network. 

Rachel Botsman is a global leader that believes in the power of collaboration and sharing  through digital technologies to transform the way people live, work, finance and consume. She defines the following key factors  to enable this economic and social change: 

  • Technological innovation (social networks, online payments, digital identity, internet, smartphones). 
  • Change of values (awareness of what the concepts of owning and sharing mean in the digital age).
  • Economic realities (we need to change the way we measure the “growth and wealth of a society” right now based on  economic wealth and possessions). 
  • Environmental pressures (resources are finite)

Even so, the sociologist and economist, Werner Sombart already baptised this same concept of  collaborative innovation at the beginning of the 20th century as “creative destruction” which he describes as “the innovation  process that takes place in a market economy in which new products destroy old companies and business models”.  “Collaborative management in companies, in small, medium or if it is a large international corporations, seek to develop their business and project, less hierarchical, involving all the actors, with a more horisontal communication and establishing  conversations to solve the problems of collaborative and less centralised effective way”. 

Cristian Figueroa, founder of tejeRedes and expert in methodologies and processes that involve the development of  collaborative networks, stated the the importance and value of co-innovation as it  opens up possibilities for better understanding the role that alliances play in  innovation and, at the same time, guides the gaze towards the search for innovation opportunities in the way in which  partnerships organisations interact.  It is not about competing with others to be the best, but about  achieving goals together with others to benefit everyone. 

The economy of the future will undoubtedly be one that is supported by collaborative innovation processes, as it will make  companies more profitable and productive by allowing them to optimise creative processes and provide value-added products  and services to the markets of tomorrow. In addition, collaborative innovation will transform the way in which we will produce,  consume, finance and learn in the following years. 

Here are 4 benefits and some advantages of applying co-innovation inside and outside companies: 

  1. Helps create better customer-centric products. You can start innovating with a prototype or beta version of the new  product or service, ask for feedback from a group of customers, and experiment until you get a result that is as close  as possible to your needs. 
  2. Helps to obtain more meaningful information. It is easier to directly learn the behavior and experience patterns of  future consumers by collaborating with them on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. Even with this,  the organisation’s overall approach to innovation can be changed. 
  3. Helps mitigate risks. By collaborating with customers and other stakeholders, all of whom contribute ideas for product  creation, the chances of the product becoming a failure are largely avoided. This long-term action can improve the  financial performance of the business. 
  4. Helps build brand loyalty. When customers and other stakeholders are involved from the ideation phase of a new  product, a sense of ownership is created. This helps build a strong relationship with the product user group, as well as  create new business opportunities, which will have a positive social impact for those who promote the product and  those who consume it.