How can the lead-user method add value to the user focus in a company’s front end process? - Case study from the telecommunication industry
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This thesis uses a company from the telecommunication industry as case for studying how the front end of innovation is structured and how the lead-user method can add value to the user focus of the activities in the front end process. The front end of innovation is described as a chaotic place and although studies have shown that the proficiency in this phase of the innovation process is essential to developing successful products there are no clear answer as to how the activities in the first phase of the innovation process should be structured. The lead-user concept as described by Eric von Hippel (E. von Hippel, 1978, 1986) is the study of how users leading a market or technological trend experiences needs today that will be common in the market in the future. These users can be used as a source of innovative ideas. This thesis, using qualitative research method, examines the current process implemented in the case company for driving the front end activities. The thesis builds on well-known theories from front end of innovation, phased product development, open innovation and the lead-user concept. Findings suggest that there is room for improvement in the case company’s execution of the front end process and that the lead-user method can help in turning the focus towards user needs instead of technology possibilities.