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Design Strategy

In the first of our series on co-creation, we explored in theory why co-creation is the most effective way to foster innovative thinking and design.

In this post we focus on the practical application of co-creation. We examine some of the forms it has taken in companies that have realised its synergetic potential:


Apple and Microsoft

Approach: Co-creation for improved efficacy and utility.

Method: Despite the differences and tumultuous past that exist between these two giants of the computer industry, Apple and Microsoft have been able to put the customer first in many instances and join forces to create products like Office for Mac users and iTunes for Windows users.

Value added: Users get the best of both worlds, without having to give up their favourite software on whichever platform they prefer. Choice and decision are thus left in the hands of the consumer, making this a great example of co-creation, even in the midst of intense rivalry.


Nike ID

Approach: Co-creation for personalisation.

Method: Nike ID is a feature that allows online shoppers to completely customise their pair of Nikes, from the style of the strap, right down to the colour of the lining inside the shoe. It even allows for personalised lettering (a name or word, for example) to be added on the shoe. Before making the final decision to purchase, the customer has the option to share the creation on social media for further inputs.

Value added: In an age where self-expression, customised products and the desire to stand out in a crowd are highly valued commodities, Nike has developed a platform to address those needs by putting a part of the product design process in the hands of the customer.


Ola Auto

Approach: Co-creation to organise markets.

Method: Ola has partnered with auto rickshaw drivers in some Indian cities to allow customers to book autos using the same Ola app that they use to book cabs.

Value added: The convenience of booking an auto ride without having to physically scour the area or haggle is a huge benefit to commuters. Once a driver has indicated his willingness to take up the journey via the app, the customer is intimated and picked up from his doorstep. Rides can also be tracked on the app and location details shared with others, improving the safety of the user.



Approach: Co-creation to empower individuals.

Method: In the case of AirBnB, multiple partners work together to co-create a unique product for the end user:
– AirBnB provides a platform for hosts to display their properties and prospective guests to view the same.
– AirBnB pays freelance photographers around the world to provide high quality photos of the properties, to aid in the guests’ decision making.
– Payment processors enable the financial transactions involved.

Value added: The unique experience of staying at a local home and enjoying the local culture at prices that are, more often than not, lower than those of hotels.


Apsara Drone

Approach: Co-creation for social impact.

Method: Start-up firm Otherlab, in collaboration with and funded by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is working on designing an entirely biodegradable lightweight drone, using transient electronics and material made out of a mushroom based substance.

Value added: The drone has the potential to effect large-scale social impact. It could be used to deliver food and medicine to disaster hit and war torn areas and then self-destruct, with minimal damage to the environment.

These are just a few examples to illustrate that co-creation can take many forms and isn’t restrictive in nature. It requires that the needs of the end user always be the focus and it requires an open mind, perhaps best summed up by Tim Cook…

“Apple and Microsoft still compete, but we can partner on more things than we compete on.
And that’s what customers want.”

– Tim Cook, at the BoxWorks Conference, 2015.

Have you come across any great examples of co-creation? Share them with us in the comments section below.



With the rampant synergy in tech and business development, Zeitgeist takes a closer look at tech integrations that are going to become mainstream.

Artificial Intelligence

AI seems to be slowly but surely replacing jobs that require technical computation and data analysis to produce more human driven conclusions through apps, devices and platforms. AI cannot mimic the empathetic human brain just yet, but already has the capability to beat the human brain in playing a game. Libratus just beat top class human poker champions at their own game, just like Deepmind with chess. AI can now also mimic racial biases. On October 17th, 2017 Sophia was introduced – an AI bot that rose to fame by being introduced to the U.N. and acquiring citizenship in Saudi Arabia. She can imitate human expression, though she is still learning what these things mean. Research firm Gartner estimates that AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020.

And then there is the eternal question – could AI ever replace humans altogether?


We all know that IoT (The Internet of Things) has been hugely disruptive. Connecting smart sensors to connected devices has created a huge way of convenience and control to the user. Today we are able to control a small light switch, or a large off site generator through virtual assistants like Google’s Alexa. But the real magic is just about to begin.

By combining Blockchain Technology with IoT, tech is going to see a new wave of security and services for businesses. API’s will very soon come in to connect different databases with different computer services. This will drive efficiency and competition. For example a BIoT innovation could be shipment tracking devices with sensors embedded in them for real time data. Imagine the impact of quality in our supply chains if we could track heat, time, and traffic to ensure that our vegetables got to us perfectly fresh!

BIoT will assure companies that their most valuable data will not be hacked – a huge upward move for security in businesses across the globe.

Li-Fi and AR

Augmented Reality will take centerstage this year. The rapid pace at which AR has taken off will allow people to shop for things that fit to size. Augmented mannequins will create a customised shopping experience where body types will be easily created to match your own, along with online inventory that will rival any online store.
In addition to this, Li-Fi, a new light-based data connection, will bring speeds up to 100 times faster than a 4G wi-fi connection.

The retail experience is rapidly changing for the consumer – online stores, watch out!


Fintech will soon take over traditional methods of paying for things. With social and mobile payments at your fingertips it only makes sense to focus on pushing these technologies further for more efficiency. Soon we will be able to scan our eyes through our smartphone to make a payment, eliminating the need for credit and debit cards altogether!

With Cryptocurrency and Blockchain creating further security in finance, it will be a matter of time before we make serious attempts to reduce the energy used in quantum computing and secure mining – investors get ready! This will in turn create financial incentives for all major retailers to move into Cryptocurrency and all their digital assets will begin to behave similarly to traditional methods of finance, payments, loans and credits, at a scalable cost.

The landscape for business today is fresh and exciting. Operational changes and business offerings are rapidly being driven to integrate progressive tech in order to stand apart from competition. Consumers – dabbling in some reading to equip you with what the future holds could stand to benefit you in more ways than one. Business owners – if you aren’t tech savvy yet, watch out, you have a hurricane coming your way!

Madhuri Rao
Founder and Chief
Design Strategy