Technology Assignment

Question

Case study “Fiat Mio: The Project That Embraced Open
Innovation, Crowdsourcing and Creative Commons in the
Automotive Industry” (HEC-095)
• 40% of assessment total.
• Answer the following questions:
1. What did both Fiat and the participants gain from the open innovation experience? Draw up a list of benefits for each.
2. If the Fiat Mio was merely a prototype that would never be produced or marketed, what was the real innovation?

Answer

Fiat Mio Case Study

Fiat Group, originally called Societa Anonima Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, is a global automotive group whose headquarters are in Turin, Italy. The company is divided into Fiat Industrial which manufactures industrial cars and Fiat Group Automobiles (FGA) which designs, produces, and sells a range of luxury including Ferrari and Maserati. Fiat Style Centers are based in Turin, Italy, and Betim, Brail. The Brazilian Fiat Style center is headed by Peter Fassbender whose idea it was to embrace open innovation, crowd sourcing, and creative commons in the automotive industry. In turn, this idea led to the creation of the Fiat Mio (my Fiat) concept car.

The open innovation process that led to the creation of the Fiat Mio concept car is what can be described as hectic, draining, overwhelming, and satisfactory, all at the same time. Despite all the emotions manifested throughout the open innovation experience, Fiat benefited immensely both as a company and as the brainchild of the Fiat Mio concept car, and the case applied to all participants. Fiat specifically gained collaborative skills, better relationships with customers, new ideas generated by the public, invaluable feedback, better marketing strategies, and better communication with the public. On the other hand, participants were able to gain customer satisfaction and additional information on the nature of car manufacturing processes.

During the open innovation process and even afterwards, the Fiat team involved in the making of the Fiat Mio learned the important skill of collaboration at work. This collaborative teamwork spread across all the other departments in Fiat like engineering, communication, and marketing. One can note how important collaboration at work is based on how other departments emulated the team. It ensures that no one person works alone at any given point. Instead, they work in small groups where they are able to achieve a more unified goal instead of different strategies on one reference point. Joao Ciaco, the director of advertising and relationship marketing, also agrees with the fact that the Fiat project impacted positively on the company with the collaborative approach.

Moreover, communication is a very vital element in terms of fostering efficiency in a company. With the Fiat Mio especially, communication with online participants was the main way in which information was obtained from participants on how the concept car should be created. For this reason, when the project kicked off, together with a small team of Fiat engineers and designers, Leonardo started working on the contributions made immediately they came in by condensing, classifying, and segmenting the information received in ways that Fiat would understand its customer’s desires. By doing so, the automaker was able to avoid miscommunication and misinterpretation of the ideas presented, which in turn led to the creation of a better communication platform between Fiat and customers and vice versa as they could both understand each other very well. 

Another benefit that Fiat acquired from the open innovation process was invaluable feedback, which is important for any company or organization that endeavors to be better than its competitors. A higher percentage of the feedback was positive, meaning that that they did something right especially in terms of public relations, responsiveness, and objectivity. Through the feedback, Fiat is now able to improve on what it may have slackened in. Overall, the innovation process greatly contributed to the praises accorded to the company.

After the commencement of the Fiat Mio project, a total of 7,078 ideas were recorded after going through the filtering process. These ideas were then put into 21 related categories where they were then evaluated in detail. Then, each of them was accorded attention in terms receiving help in the making and manufacturing of future cars not just for Fiat but also for other interested automakers. The move was embraced because the information available on the various Fiat sites on the open innovation process and the Fiat Mio concept car is registered under the Attribution No Derivatives (CC BY-ND) license which gives permission for the copying or redistribution of the work. Moreover, this information is always available as long as no modifications have been made. This open generation of ideas goes a long way to show just how creative people can be if given the chance to express their abilities.

Lastly, the open innovation process exposed Fiat Mio brand to millions of people globally. Participation in the making of Fiat Mio concept car was completely unrestricted, and this which explains why people of different ages, gender, race, and ethnicity from all over the world managed to access the Fiat online sites to make their contributions. Such exposure is invaluable for a company like Fiat since it leads to the creation of an expanded client lists, increased funding, profits, and greater organizational credibility. For instance, after the unveiling of the Fiat Mio in 2010, Fiat exceeded its financial target by reporting a net profit of €600 million and gross revenue of €53.6 billion.

Similarly, as mentioned earlier, participants of the Fiat Mio project also benefited immensely from it. One of the benefits was in the form of customer satisfaction, which was achieved at the end of the project. Thousands of the online participants were invited to Sao Paulo for the ceremony in which the concept car was unveiled. During this time, consumers and participants alike were able to see which one, if any, of their ideas was incorporated during the making of the Fiat Mio concept car. The incorporation of participants’ ideas gave them a strong sense of community service in which they felt that by contributing to the field of automotive technology, they had contributed to society at large. 

The other thing that the participants gained was the general knowledge of the processes involved in the conceptualization, general manufacturing, and production of a car. This information was acquired through the countless links that Fiat availed to the participants to inform them of the progress being made during the development of the Fiat Mio. In a bid to make the participants more involved in the construction process, they indirectly informed participants of the vital parts of a car and the efforts that lead to the making of a car that is of great value for customers.

According to Peter Fassbender, the Fiat Mio is merely a prototype, and will not be produced or marketed. The main point that can be derived from this statement is that the real innovation during the Fiat Mio project was not the Fiat Mio itself, but rather, the use of crowd sourcing and open source innovation processes during conceptualization. In this case, crowd sourcing describes the way Fiat involved the ‘crowd’ to come up with ideas and designs that led to the conceptualization of the concept car. The fact that a big automaker company like Fiat decided to use this method is the ultimate boost to innovation since it promotes the idea that people should have a say in how they would like their cars to be designed, and that, decisions relating to conceptualization and production should not solely come from the manufacturing team.

On the other hand, the open source strategy and basically involves the act of sharing and exchanging freely-accessible technological information. This explains the fact that Fiat decided to create a forum were people from all over the world could make a contribution in the form of ideas that could be incorporated in the making of the Fiat Mio. This information was accessible to everyone and anyone that was interested in it, leading to the birth to over 7000 ideas. The virtual participation involved during this whole process is demonstrates that the concepts of crowd sourcing and open sourcing ought to be embraced especially by the companies that manufacture common-technology items like cars, phones, and laptops since it is an excellent way to keeping consumers and manufacturers alike happy.

In conclusion, crowd sourcing and open source innovation are efficient methods that manufacturers can use to meet their customers’ needs. Thus, they should be embraced by all companies that are involved in the creation or manufacturing of products that consumers use on the regular basis. The process does not have to utilize a conceptualized approach such as the one Fassbender used in leading the way towards the development of Fiat’s concept car; it may involve the use of participants’ ideas to develop actual products meant for use in real-life contexts. As demonstrated in the project, ordinary people can contribute invaluable ideas that are relevant for product development.

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