Future Smart City Solutions
Urbanization and an increasing level of CO² emission are two major challenges mankind has to deal with in the 21st century. These two phenomena cause serious problems and bring along a strong need for new and innovative solutions in smart cities. This need, however, can lead to interesting commercial opportunities for innovative companies.
Against this background this Lead User study was conducted by the department for Entrepreneurship and Innovation of the Vienna University of Economics and Business in cooperation with Kapsch TraficCom. The latter is a member of Kapsch Group, a worldwide renowned Austrian company with more than 4000 employees, operating in over 35 countries. Kapsch TraficCom is a leading international supplier of intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Its core business is the development and supply of electronic toll collection (ETC) systems, and the technical and commercial operation of such systems.
Finding radically new solutions to complex problems is a challenging task. The Lead User Method, however, is an applicable tool to gain deeper insight and to produce innovative ideas and solutions. The search field of this research project is "small cities", its mail goal to find innovative solutions to decarbonise transportation of people and goods in urban areas.
Several important constraints have to be considered to the underlying problem. First, solutions must be commercially realizable by the year 2025. Second, commercial business models should be marketable on a B2G or B2B basis. Third, the focus is on cities with more than two million inhabitants. Fourth, solutions must be scalable. Finally, any solution ought to lead to a reduction of CO² emission.
After the management of Kapsch decided to conduct a Lead User project in cooperation with the E&I Institute, they nominated a group of people that together with the Institute worked out a more detailed area of focus within the search ield of smart cities. Out of the two remaining subfields of “decarbonising urban transport” and “smart energy solutions”, the former one was chosen, because this topic meant a more urgent need for solutions. Especially the user perspective has been taken into consideration and therefore the chances for commercial success seemed higher.
Moreover, the first one can partly be integrated in the chosen topic of “decarbonising urban transport”. This process was then followed by a more precise description of the search ield and the overriding goals of the project. The main focus is on products and services.
Approach and methodology
High competition, shorter product life cycles and rapid technological change made it crucial for companies to constantly innovate. Especially radical innovations are needed. In this respect traditional marketing research methods often fail to deliver valuable results.
Most marketing research methods work with random samples of customers in order to ensure that they represent the average, typical customers (Lüthje & Herstatt, 2004, p. 554). They are often restricted to obtain only information about the users’ needs and assign the task of generating ideas for solutions to manufacturers (Gary L. Lilien, 2002, p. 1043).
However, average users are strongly constrained by their real world experience, an effect called “functional ixedness”. For example studies showed that those who use an object or see it used in a familiar way are blocked from using it in a novel way (Gary L. Lilien, 2002, p. 1043). In order to forecast their needs in the future or assess a radical new product the customers have to master the very dificult mental task of imaging a context of use, which does not yet exist. Therefore average users are unlikely to contribute insights into new product needs and possible solutions (Hippel, 1986, p. 791).
In contrast, so called “Lead Users” do not have to imagine themselves in a not yet existing situation because the “new” is already familiar to them (Lüthje & Herstatt, 2004).
According to von Hippel lead users have two distinguishing characteristics: “(1) They are at the leading edge of an important market trend(s), and so are currently experiencing needs that will later be experienced by many users in that market. (2) They anticipate relatively high beneits from obtaining a solution to their needs, and so may innovate.” (von Hippel, 2005, p. 22).The irst characteristic is based on the assumption that market needs evolve over time and are driven by important underlying trends. Therefore solutions developed by Lead Users today will be attractive to many users tomorrow. The second was derived from studies showing that the greater the expected beneit from a needed innovation is, the greater the investment in obtaining a solution will be (von Hippel, 2005, p. 22).
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in applying the Lead User Method to the development of products and services (Nikolaus Franke, 2006, p. 302). It was used successfully by numerous world leading companies like 3M, Johnon&Johnson Medical and HILTI (Lüthje & Herstatt, 2004, p. 553).
The final concepts comprise solutions concerning the customized personal information, trafic coordination, intermodality of transport means and bridging the last mile.
If you are interested in more details concerning the inal concepts and prototypes, please contact the project partner directly.
Kapsch TrafficCom AG
Am Europaplatz 2
Ing. Mag. Clemens Schober
Mag. Martin Eder