A top business innovator, Eric Von Hippel is an economist and professor. Von Hippel works at MIT Sloan School of Management hosting classes regarding the nature and economics of distributive and open innovation. Innovation is a new way of doing something, and Eric Von Hippel applies this to economics, business and government policy. Specially, he is known for the concept of “user innovation.”
User innovation discusses the idea of innovation and applies it to consumers and end users rather than suppliers. Eric Von Hippel discovered that many services and products are developed or refined by the users. The user will implement the products or services. They then make suggestions on how the product or service can be readjusted to meet the needs of the consumers on a wider base. The suggestion is that the manufacturers are not responsible for the new innovation, but that the end users are.
In 1986 Eric Von Hippel coined the phrase “lead user.” Lead user has two specific connotations. First, a lead user is going to determine a need which is general in the marketplace, but the lead users come across the issue years before the marketplace actually encounters them. Secondly, lead users are in a position of offering benefits by supplying a solution to the needs of most consumers. The concept is to find a “supply” before there is a “demand” for it.
Eric Von Hippel is well known for his applications to business strategy and free or open source software. Major written works include The Sources of Innovation and Democratizing Innovation.