New Research Shows Co-Creation Is Transforming How Businesses Approach Innovation

London, October 19, 2016 --- Hitachi Europe (HEU) Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501), today announced the results of a joint research project into the adoption of co-creation as a method of innovation. The research, conducted by Longitude Research on behalf of Hitachi, found that over half of respondents (57%) said that co-creation has transformed their company’s approach to innovation and a similar number (61%) said it is creating new commercial opportunities.

Co-creation occurs when organisations bring partners, customers and outside stakeholders into the innovation process to deliver new products and services. Hitachi partnered with Longitude Research to survey more than 550 senior business executives across Europe to better understand the benefits a more collaborative approach to innovation brings to businesses and what sectors are most using co-creation to generate new commercial opportunities. These companies represent a significant sample of successful businesses with over 80% of companies studied reporting revenues of up to $5 billion a year.

“The complexity of problems that we see as a business is increasing,” says Patrik Sjöstedt, General Manager EMEA of the Hitachi Insight Group. “We are living in a much more complex world. Some of the challenges businesses are being asked to answer through new products and services are simply too big for a single organisation to take on. You need multiple perspectives, and different capabilities to come together, to actually have a chance to attack and address some of these issues.”

Innovation has been traditionally hidden behind the doors of R&D but there is now a new era of a more dynamic and open approach to innovation, spurred on by advent of technologies like IoT and collaborative online platforms. This is confirmed by the fact that over two thirds (69%) of respondents said that co-creation is a suitable tool for all types of innovation and over half (58%) say they are already piloting or rolling-out co-creation projects. Respondents also believed that co-creation is ideally suited to complex projects, such as smart cities.

Businesses are already reaping the results of co-creation as an innovation strategy, with evidence pointing to its ability to produce more successful new products and services. More than half of businesses said that co-creation has improved their financial performance.

Automotive sector steams ahead with co-creation

But some sectors are embracing the change much more than others. The automotive sector is the most likely (83%) to say that co-creation has transformed their approach to innovation. The technology industry is the most likely to say that they never collaborate with customers for co-creation (19%), which may come as a surprise to many.

Across all sectors, the majority responded that the potential of co-creation for solving problems lies at the intersection of business and society. More than half said that co-creation helps improve their business’s social impact.

However, the implementation of co-creation is still not a smooth process. Respondents indicated that the biggest barrier to collaboration is a lack of trust, with a third (29%) highlighting IP as the main barrier to co-creation. While collaborating with competitors is still unpopular across sectors, nearly one in ten (9%) often collaborate with direct competitors. Change needs to come from within and respondents from energy and transport sectors indicated that their culture is the worst suited for co-creation.

Hitachi understands the challenges and benefits that exist when trying to implement co-creation into business plans and the report looks at case studies from throughout the business including the City Data Exchange (CDE) where Hitachi and the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, are collaborating to launch an integrated data service to share data across the city’s smart programmes. To date, more than 600 companies, cities and knowledge institutions have participated in the CDE, making it one of the leading examples of co-creation in existence. Not only did co-creation help in the development of this programme, it created insight into the wider data eco-system of cities and the companies working within this eco-system, benefitting future Hitachi projects as well as other organisations looking to explore smart city development.

“The time, effort and money involved in launching co-creation projects are the biggest external barriers to co-creation – they have the potential to put you at a competitive disadvantage in the short term,” says Peter Bjørn Larsen, Director of the City Data Exchange in Copenhagen for Hitachi Consulting. “For companies that allow these barriers to get in the way, an off-the-shelf solution will always be preferable, despite the potential pay-off that can come through embracing co-creation.”

“Increasingly the smartest ideas and innovations happen when organisations co-create solutions with their customers and business partners,” says Gareth Lofthouse, Managing Director at Longitude Research. “Many organisations need to work harder to develop the systems, processes and incentives to help them collaborate effectively across the innovation ecosystem.”

This research was commissioned on the behalf of Hitachi to support the launch of its 2018 Mid-Term Management Plan, which aims to deliver collaborative IoT-based innovation through its Social Innovation Business.

About the report

The report ‘Co-creating the Future’ was conducted by Longitude Research on behalf of Hitachi. The research surveyed 554 senior executives and directors across a range of sectors in Europe in 2016. Over 80% of companies surveyed reported revenues of up to $5 billion a year, with the balance (17%) in excess of $5 billion.

About Longitude Research

Longitude Research is a specialist thought leadership agency providing in-depth research and analysis on a wide range of strategic issues for many of the world’s most prestigious B2B brands.

About Hitachi Europe Ltd.

Hitachi Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., is headquartered in Maidenhead, UK. The company is focused on its Social Innovation Business - delivering innovations that answer society’s challenges. Hitachi Europe and its subsidiary companies offers a broad range of information & telecommunication systems; rail systems, power and industrial systems; industrial components & equipment; automotive systems, financial services; digital media & consumer products and others with operations and research & development Laboratories across EMEA. For more information, visit http://www.hitachi.eu.

About Hitachi, Ltd.

Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, delivers innovations that answer society’s challenges with our talented team and proven experience in global markets. The company’s consolidated revenues for fiscal 2014 (ended March 31, 2015) totaled 9,761 billion yen ($81.3 billion). Hitachi is focusing more than ever on the Social Innovation Business, which includes power & infrastructure systems, information & telecommunication systems, construction machinery, high functional materials & components, automotive systems, healthcare and others. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company's website at http://www.hitachi.com.