June 29, 2012 Yanik Segginger by Yanik Segginger
Director Sales Excellence - North America @Straumann
in Internet

""Unidirectional business web presence is not sufficient anymore.""

Crowdsourcing Communities in Durable Goods Manufacturing

It is unconceivable to make your business visible without a web presence. This is trite evidence, no scoop. One generation plus several disruptive innovations after its emergence, the web is now social, mainstream and apart from other media. User collaboration, content production and recommendation are the new drivers. Welcome to a new essence of communities. Despite, have businesses applied this logic to their web presence?


Social media are driven by multidimensional relationships. Times and places do not matter, only (inter)actions do. Simply said, interpersonal relationships (CtoC) became the dominating models of the social networking era. Call it contingency or the social media gaps. Consumers/users produce contents in social media communities, whereas businesses leverage segmentation and lower marketing costs thanks to the UGC (User Generated Contents). However social media gaps are yet to be fulfilled, call them business-partnering communities (BtoB) and collaborative innovation. The revolution is on.


The latter model is a hybrid form of commercial relationship. Now the users participate in the value creation process. Detroit-based Local Motors (LM) illustrates this business trend: social media drivers are modeled to turn UGC into manufactured products – from intangible but yet real relationships derive tangible benefits. To make it short, LM allows users to actively socialize and interact in the designing process of next-generation cars. Once a design has been selected (recommendation), LM relies on a local network of micro-factories to give an innovative twist to the social networking experience. The car is priced, manufactured and directly distributed to either participants or external consumers. The business model downsizes multiple intermediaries in the value chain while targeting the growing niche market of customized vehicles. GM should start to advocate, so should the entire Detroit automotive industry.


The business outsources the design capabilities to the users and the users outsource the manufacturing capabilities to the business. Here is how a business applies social media logic to its core value proposition. The crowdsourcing approach innovates business models. The organizational structure is becoming leaner and more integrative, although raising new challenges in terms of management. Many businesses claim that building a trustful relationship with customers is central. Now you know where to look. Of course, one of the key success factors deployed by LM is its local approach. To replicate such a business model at the international level will be quite challenging. But no disruptive technology is easy to carry on.


Unidirectional business web presence is not sufficient anymore. The potential of social media opens up many paths, mainly in the creation of tangible benefits and customer integration. LM initiates collaborative innovation in durable goods manufacturing. It is a glimpse of social media set of opportunities. The right social media is yet to be found, but we should start to watch for its innovative impact on business models.




Tapscott D. & Williams A., “Macrowikonomics: Rebooting Business and the World”, Atlantics Books, London, 2010, 424 pages.

Stenger T. & Bourliataux-Lajoinie S., “E-Marketing & E-commerce: Concepts, Outils, Pratiques” (French),Dunod, Pariss, 2011, 383 pages.

Yanik Segginger

Yanik Segginger

Yanik is a sales and marketing aficionado working in the medical devices industry. He contributes to this blog by valuing his skills in social science, product marketing and consumer behavior.


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