Diversity of usage and increased exposure are sure-fire indicators to determine whether a particular business practice is destined for faddish despair, or for more enduring glory. Using these indicators, the new and emerging platforms of marketing and innovation – customer collaboration and co-creation – are here to stay. Though still in the early stages of growth and adoption they are fast becoming mainstream business practices, as the following examples illustrate.

First, discussions on the value of collaboration and co-creation are being featured more prominently and widely at conferences. A good example is the Future Trends conference, FT 10, to be held in Miami, USA, from October 18-20, where I will be discussing co-creation as the future of Marketing and Innovation. In addition, the pre-conference symposia on Monday, October 18, also feature a session on Co-Creative Methods for New Product Innovation. John Rogers Jr., President, CEO and Co-Founder of Local Motors will conduct this session.

What is interesting about the symposium is the company in the spotlight. Local Motors is an exciting new American car company that is built entirely around collaboration and co-creation. Imagine that? It has the world’s largest community of car designers and engineers embracing open collaboration and developing innovative cars for under-serving car-loving communities. Readers, car buffs or otherwise, who want to experience being part of a co- creation community are invited to visit the company’s website. It invites potential collaborators to make c.o.o.l cars!

Second, a whole slew of new organizations, like nonprofit organizations and government agencies, are embracing and adopting these new platforms.

Consider USAID and Global Pulse 2010. In order to follow through on President Barak Obama’s landmark speech delivered to the Muslim world in Cairo, in June 2009, promising collaboration and assistance in the areas of entrepreneurship, education, science, technology, and health, the U.S. Agency for International Development, in partnership with the departments of State, Education, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, organized Global Pulse 2010. A three-day online collaboration and global conversation, the event was held between March 29, 2010 and March 31, 2010. It attracted thousands of participants from over 155 countries and resulted in close to 10,000 ideas, reactions, opinions, and perspectives. I am pleased to share that I was one of those voices.

The Global Pulse website is inactive, since the event is over, though registered jam participants can still log in and review the ideas and suggestions made by jam participants on topics such as Empowering Women and Girls, Advancing Entrepreneurship, Trade and Economic Opportunity, Enabling Essential Education, and Supporting a Sustainable Planet.

Third, the enthusiasm for collaboration and co-creation is not just confined to small and isolated geographies, but is skipping international boundaries and transcending different cultures and markets. In my previous blog on this site, on Norway’s Clinic of Innovation, I had discussed how the experiment started in Oslo University Hospital but had grown into a full-fledged innovation movement, and spread to Denmark and Sweden as well. Similar movements, aimed at improving the quality of life, solving urban congestion, and improving sanitation in over-crowded metropolis’s of the world, also exist in areas like Scotland, Chicago, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Sweden, and India.

So what is it about collaboration and co-creation that makes it such a strong draw across a wide variety of companies, sectors, and applications? It’s not the philosophical aspect of the platforms or its sweet sounding ethos; it’s a simple, tangible benefit – the ability to see, hear, and think differently. Let’s hear it in the words of Raj Shah, USAID Administrator, and one of the key organizers of Global Pulse 2010:

By listening to each other and collaborating, each of us can become an agent of change and contribute to innovative and sustainable solutions to local and international challenges.

To those readers who are still sitting on the fence, I have only the following advice to offer – embrace collaboration and co-creation, these new platforms for marketing and innovation are here to stay.

About the author:

Gaurav Bhalla is a strategy, innovation, and marketing professional with global experience, having worked on three continents and with companies in over 20 countries. He is also owner and CEO of Knowledge Kinetics. The company focuses on the practice of customer-driven innovation and value co-creation.Gaurav previously was the Global Innovation Director, at Kantar-TNS, one of the world’s largest market information and insight companies. Additionally, he held positions in corporate strategy, brand management, sales management, and market research at companies such as Nestle, Richardson Vicks, and Burke.

Dr. Bhalla holds a BA (Hons.) degree in Economics and Mathematics from Delhi University, an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a PhD in Business from the University of Kansas. He has published research papers in leading technical journals dedicated to marketing, marketing research and statistics, and has presented before professional and academic societies in the USA and abroad. Dr. Bhalla has also served as an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He is currently associated with the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business as a member of the Department of Marketing’s Corporate Advisory Board.