Social media offers companies the possibility of involving users in the
development of products and services. VTT has developed a user-driven software
development method utilising social media in co-operation with Movial Oy.
Online tools can be used to identify the lead users in a certain area of
application, and efficiently involve them in agile software development. When
users are actively involved in the idea creation and product development
processes, their needs can be met more quickly and more efficiently than
before. User-driven innovation and software product development do not,
however, just happen; they require a systematic method and active
participation by the company.
The result of the Mobideas project was the development of a social map
application based on the users’ needs, and an effective method for lead
user-driven software development utilising social media and agile development.
Lead users are pioneers who quickly adopt new needs, services, and
technologies, and also actively develop them. Using agile software development
methods (e.g. Scrum and eXtreme Programming), several companies have achieved
a faster time overall in software development and a better quality of end
The Mobideas project began with the identification of the lead users, which
was carried out with an extensive survey concerning the use of social media.
The survey was taken by 600 Finns, 200 of whom continued to create ideas for
new social media application in Owela, which is VTT’s online innovation space,
where future products and services are developed together with users. This
resulted in around 80 ideas, which were also evaluated, commented and jointly
developed by the users.
The identified lead users were invited to a five-month project to develop the
ideas into actual products. This 30-person group of active users continued
refining the ideas based on everyday usage situations, developing solutions
both individually and in shared chat sessions. 30 new ideas were composed and
evaluated jointly by the users, VTT researchers, and Movial Oy. More detailed
descriptions were drawn up for the five most interesting and viable ideas and
based on those the active users voted their two favourites for implementation.
These ideas were related to locating services and co-workers on a map.
A student group implemented the applications using agile software development
methods in two-week iterations. The group of active users was actively
involved throughout the entire development phase via the Owela innovation
space. For example, the users suggested new functionalities for the
applications, evaluated product requirements, drafted user interfaces, and
tested development versions.
The Mobideas project proved that it is possible to implement a user-driven
innovation project from idea to product very rapidly. Via Internet users can
easily participate in the process when it is suitable for them. Agile software
development makes participation in product development interesting and
rewarding for the users, as they can follow the progress of their own ideas
towards a working application. The developers were also satisfied by the
constant feedback from the users.
Based on this project, VTT developed a method that can be used to efficiently
implement user-driven product development projects in an online environment.
The benefits of the method are the identification of active lead users,
greater involvement of users in the innovation process, identification of the
users’ actual needs, continuous collaboration and communication in an online
environment with the different stakeholders, and an end product that better
meets the needs of the users.
The Mobideas project was implemented jointly by VTT and Movial Oy as a part of
the international ITEI project, which develops innovation tools for software
companies. The ITEI project is based on the need to make the innovation
operations of software companies more efficient, and to launch more rapidly
products that meet users’ needs.
More information on the project: