BMW Not Serious About Open Innovation

by Stefan Lindegaard

BMW Not Serious About Open InnovationRecently I read an article in Wall Street Journal on how the BMW iVentures capital fund plans to invest in smartphone app start-up firms. This was interesting so I decided to look further into how BMW approaches external contributions to their innovation efforts.

This is one of the most respected car companies in the world and I still remember a great visit at their Technology Office in Palo Alto some years back so my expectations were quite high.

I was wrong.

My starting point was the BMW Group web site and the Research & Development page. They have plenty of information on their view on R&D and innovation. They also have a small box that reads “You Have Ideas?”

This is where I clicked. Oops, I got this message:

“To view this page, you must log in to this area on wcms40.bmwgroup.com:80:”

Hmm, ok then, after clicking a few times, I now got to a page where I can visit their Virtual Innovation Agency or their Co-Creation Lab. I clicked on the first link and now I got this message.

“Due to technical issues with the automated email delivery it is currently not possible to sign up as a new user. When submitting new ideas please ignore the appearing error message. Thank you for your understanding.”

Well, it was still possible to move on and now I expected to be able to learn more about this initiative. Not possible. I got a German-language login page or I could sign up as a new user. Hey, it would have been nice knowing what to sign up for… (In all fairness, as I repeated this exercise, I did find a short introduction on the previous page).

It continues like this. When I click on their Co-Creation Lab, I want to move on to an Interior Idea Contest. Just to learn that this project closed more than 6 months ago…

At this point, I gave up. I was unable to find any relevant information on how they work with external contributors and I had a bad experience trying to find this information. I also did a Google search to see if I could learn about their efforts on external blogs and sites. Not much showed up.

This makes me wonder what the heck is going on. Are they deliberately trying to scare away external contributors? Do they not care what impression they give potential partners let alone bloggers and media? Are they are serious about open innovation?

It definitely does not seem to be the case.

Editor’s Note: Personally, I found it frustrating when trying to follow Stefan’s journey that you can’t even link to a specific web page on the BMW Group web site. Don’t they want people to link to their site and come to their site?

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Stefan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation

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  1. Good observations. The sustainability/green movement went through a hype cycle that led to much “greenwashing”. Sad to say, but perhaps too Open Innovation has reach a point where we will see “open washing” by companies? aka all the exterior trimmings of Open Innovation marketing with no substance. Certainly, what you have observed, Stefan, is a lesson to all of us to look carefully under the hood.

  2. Good article and all very valid points. Did you ever try and contact BMW for thier view on your observations because I think it would be good to hear from them?

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