Co-Creation and Smart Manufacturing

Hitachi has released a point of view on the topic of co-creation, which we define as the process of innovating with partners in order to create new value for business stakeholders, customers and society at large. It’s a powerful message that is resonating in the market. To succeed in a more complex business and technology environment, companies need to become increasingly collaborative, bringing new partners into their ecosystems, with all working collectively toward a common goal.

Working with Longitude Research, we surveyed more than 550 senior executives and directors across a range of sectors in Europe to understand the state of co-creation.

Here’s just a sample of our findings:

  • 57 percent of those surveyed say that co-creation has transformed their organization’s approach to innovation.
  • 52 percent say that a co-creation approach to innovation has reduced the cost of developing products and services in their businesses.
  • 61 percent say that co-creation has enabled them to produce more successful new products and services.
  • 51 percent say that co-creation has improved financial performance.
  • 61 percent say that co-creation has created new commercial opportunities.

Those are impressive numbers. Here, I want to say a few words about co-creation in the context of smart manufacturing.

One of the things that we see with clients is that by engaging their shop floor workers in co-creation, those workers can participate in the design of the factory of the future. That brings a lot of value because those current workers have a lot of tacit knowledge—they understand how things are done today and they have a wealth of ideas that you can tap into. We always encourage our clients to form these co-creation teams where a group from the client and a group from Hitachi are working together.

With that kind of team, we can share the knowledge, ideas and creativity that already exist in our client's people. These employees also feel a deeper sense of ownership when they've contributed to shaping the solution. It wasn't a solution that was given to them by an outside vendor; it was something they created internally. This approach gives them a chance to put into practice many ideas that factory workers may have had in their minds for quite some time. There may be workers who have had ideas about how to improve things for many years and they've never had a chance to be listened to.

Co-creation can unlock that knowledge that’s been sitting for years in the heads of your employees.  That's a powerful asset.