Co-creation is not a new idea. For years companies have been seeking advice from their customers about how they can improve their products and services, either by asking directly, by quietly listening, or by learning from data. But what is fast becoming more popular is the desire for companies to openly collaborate with customers from conception to delivery, with the single aim of creating something that is truly usable and useful. Gone are the days of assumption driven development; knowledge driven development is where it’s at.

What is co-creation?

At its core co-creation is a methodology which involves companies working directly with their customer community to jointly create new products and services. Its rallying call is that the answers to questions about how a product should function do not lie within the walls of a company’s office; they lie outside, with their customers. Typically a co-creation community is assembled through a transparent invitation to contribute towards the development of new products or existing product features. Thereafter the community will be engaged in a process designed to unearth and validate need to ensure products are providing real value to the intended customer groups.

How are Cambridge University Press doing co-creation?

A few years ago we launched a new digital content platform, Cambridge Core, which had been designed and developed based entirely on the needs of its users. Thousands of survey responses and interview transcripts were analysed to produce a picture of the product’s user-base, to further understand their needs, motivations, online behaviours. What information did they need to make a decision about the relevancy of content? What would trigger a download? What would inspire them to want to pursue further research on Cambridge Core? Questions such as this were answered through a process of learning, design thinking, testing and refinement. Subsequently, a new customer-centric product was born.

Now we are taking that approach to the next level. We recently launched a new product – Cambridge Open Engage, a place for researchers to upload early and open research outputs and collaborate with peers. Very much in its infancy with limited functionality, we are now inviting users to join forces with us to generate ideas for what will make Cambridge Open Engage a destination of choice. We have a vision for this new product, but we are eager to learn from its users about whether that vision can be realised. And we are prepared to accept that it may not be, that it may take an entirely different direction.

How can you get involved in co-creation?

We are on the lookout for willing volunteers to join our community of co-creators. The community is hosted on the customer insight platform Recollective which will also provide an arena to discuss research approaches and ideas with other Academics from around the world. You can expect to be asked to contribute functionality ideas, vote on ideas, test designs, test features, and an array of other activities to help us shape the future of Cambridge Open Engage. You can choose which activities to be involved with and in return we are offering complimentary access to subject-relevant content on Cambridge Core to all those who complete an activity every quarter.

Be a part of the future of open research. Sign up here: www.cambridge.org/openengage

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