Corporate innovation management geared to long-term success calls for a strategy to grow innovations into a substantial competitive advantage. This, however, coincides with an enormous failure-rate at the market, especially in the field of breakthrough innovations. Hence, in recent times, companies are trying to alleviate the risk of lacking user-acceptance through opening their innovation processes to external actors, particularly customers. The method of integrating lead users is determined by the effective and systematic identification of leading-edge customers, which is considered to be a critical phase within this approach. With the arrival of Web 2.0 applications, there is a huge potential to improve these selection processes. Our research into online communities and weblogs scrutinised the search criteria in an online environment and revealed the following characteristics as crucial factors for the online identification of lead users: being ahead of a market trend, high expected benefits, user expertise and motivation, extreme user needs as well as opinion leadership and an online commitment.
International Journal of Innovation Management, 2008, Vol 12, Issue 3, p. 419-458