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In my role at IFS, formulating and communicating product visions and strategies for IFS Applications, I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas. I seek inspiration from other industries that at first glance might seem unrelated to the business software industry. I want to understand their challenges and opportunities, the type of products and services that attract their customers and how these industries react to new user behavior. And, can we copy their bright ideas? Can it be that our customers, investing in business software, may have the same user behavior and expectations of our product and services – now or in the future?

I read about Nike in Computer Sweden magazine (Friday, April 27) and become very enthusiastic about a Nike innovation. I know Nike as the company selling high quality shoes and fashion. There was a long interview with Stefan Olander, VP for digital products at Nike. The first sentence in the article was; “My goal is to make Nike as famous for their services as for their products”. That sentence caught my attention.

Have a look at Nikeplus.com, which offers a range of products and services for digital sports. After the huge success of Nike Air technology during the ‘80s (I think we all remember Air Jordan shoes) and a focus on globalization during the ‘90s, Nike has now focused on connectivity. Nike understands the importance of technology and connectivity in people’s life. According to Stefan, the winning combination is where the product can be in full symbiosis with a service.

“The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to keep up the motivation,” Stefan said. “You can only improve what you can measure and that’s why technology is so important for sports in the future.”

I agree!

Nike has released a new product innovation called Nike Fuelband in collaboration with Apple. The objective was to create a new product that motivates you from first thing in the morning until you go to bed in the evening. Nike Fuelband is a bracelet with some diodes from green to red that indicates if you have reached your targets for that particular day. The product has become a success.

I was inspired by this product, developed by a vendor that traditionally sell shoes, and I started to wonder how we can add that “+” to our product and services. What would “IFS+” mean to our customers? I do have some ideas, but will of course not reveal them here and know ;-).

What can the “+” you add to your product? How can you take benefit of the “connectivity generation” using your products? Have a look at Nikeplus.com. I got very inspired, and I hope you too.

Now I have to get ready for my keynote presentation; “Managing Innovation the IFS Way”at IFS North America Employee Day.

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