Our original challenge:

When we first went to the market with our product, 3dNet, success came fast. It was great, but also led to many issues we had to learn to manage as a company. We were overwhelmed by enhancement requests, some of them trivial, others substantial. Our innovation pace was stalling. We did not have enough resources to do what we were asked to do; often people ask me how many employees we have; My answer was always, half of how many we really need. Growing, and growing with our fast rate, meant we had to have an almost unlimited supply of skills and resources available on demand. I spent most of my time on linkedin.com trying to find skills to bring in, while Soeren spent most of his time maintaining those skills.  It was an endless battle, where we had to compete not only with the usual suspects in the MedTech industry but also with every single technology company in London.

That is when I realised something so obvious, but yet something I was unable to see at the time: no matter what kind of company you work for, small or large, when it comes to innovation and skills, the most skillful people reside outside the boundaries of your company. In the years to come, we started to call the “outside the boundaries of Biotronics3D” skills as the Global Brain. Maybe the answer to our challenge was not finding an answer to how we can scale fast and bring and maintain even more skillful people on board, but rather how to find a mutually beneficial and fair method of working together.

But how do we do that? We had no idea.

It was in 2012 when I came across the tale of the Stone Soup:

The tale of the Stone Soup:

Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbours. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night. “There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.” “Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water. By now, hearing the rumour of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism. “Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.” Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.” The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral of the story is that by working together, with everyone contributing whatever they can, a greater good is achieved.

By working together, with everyone contributing whatever they can, a greater good is achieved.

The answer to our challenge was obvious: what if we shifted the challenge to how we could define a roadmap for innovating faster and smarter in a Networked World and not within the confines of the company? We had the technology to support that (in 3Dnet we have everything online, accessible securely from any location). Could we come up with a credible business model as well?

This remodeling project, like any collaborative activity, would bring together a set of independent players with clearly defined roles, who operate within a supporting system, our 3Dnet platform for medical imaging.

Much later I discovered that what we were trying to do is called network-centric innovation and if Biotronics3D should be successful, we had to learn this model fast.

In this model, there are well-defined actors and roles. Biotronics3D was asked to play the role of the innovation architect, to trigger and catalyse innovation but also manage and maintain the platform upon which the innovation network exists. We became the platform leaders, the innovation platform and portal and the innovation steward at the same time. Then we had to find the innovation adapters to provide specialised knowledge/services and other infrastructure services. Last but not least, we had to develop the role of the Innovation agent, to mediate interactions, knowledge transfer and innovation.

In 2018 we have created the 3dnet marketplace, adhering to and adopting Chesbrough’s ideas of open innovation. And that notion defines and will define our strategy for the years to come.

The first step of our strategy was to create our 3dnet community. We have done that, today our community has more than 30,000 members across more than 17 countries and is growing fast, roughly almost doubling every year. Now what we will do is to bring this community together, in the same way as in classical Athens, people (the “δῆμος”, meaning the community, the township) used to meet in the marketplace (the “ἀγορά ”, meaning the gathering place or assembly) to exchange ideas but also trade products and services. Effectively our vision is to become the Agora of Medical Imaging.

The rules of the game:

The more we were progressing, the more we realised that to run a successful network of innovation and a marketplace for products and services for the medical community, the players needed a set of systems and mechanisms to support and facilitate collaboration. We came up with the 3 elements of our marketplace management:

  • The NG rule: Network Governance. What we provide is cetegorised under a medical device. Doctors use our system to take critical decisions, often life or death decisions, to manage diseases. We have created formal mechanisms such as contracts and agreements, rules, procedures and standards. We have defined criteria for selecting appropriate product and service providers for the 3dnet marketplace. We have ensured common and appropriate patterns of behaviour among members and coordinate exchange of knowledge, resources, and products.
  • The KM rule: Knowledge Management. We have created mechanisms to facilitate members’ dialogue, provide a common vocabulary which includes the technology side of the platform, and to facilitate knowledge transfer, interpretation, and integration. In other words, we have defined ways to facilitate the generation, codification, and utilisation of skills for products and services in our network.
  • The IP rule: Intellectual Property Rights Management: Our objective is very simple, we want to enable our innovators to control the use of their innovation and its deliverables, whilst we respect their IP rights and maintain them at arm’s length from Biotronics3D.

In my research whilst we were building the model, I came across the manufacturing process of Boeing 787, which, to create the Boeing 787, used the “Stone soup” paradigm, adapted to which was known as the “Orchestra-platform model of network-centric innovation”. In the words of Scott Strode, Boeing’s VP of airplane development and production, “Boeing made a shift from being a manufacturer to being a platform. As Strode notes, “Boeing’s role as a platform requires it to address “a broader range of responsibilities that includes selecting the partners to host on the platform, establishing clear expectations, deciding on common tools and processes and very often making critical technology decisions”. Walt Gillete (787 VP of engineering and partner alignment) further commented that “assuming the role of the platform, allowed Boeing to concentrate more on attending the voice of the community.??

In the same research, I also came across Marc Benioff, the legendary founder of Salesforce.com, who ended up being one of my role models in business. Marc was responsible for his company’s transformation, in the same way as we would like to do, a journey that took salesforce.com from a solution provider to a platform provider. Specifically, Marc defined a foundational on-demand architecture that has helped external developers to build applications extending the scope of the product’s core offerings. Thus, instead of creating and offering whatever was needed from the market, Marc defines the platform strategy which enables salesforce.com to harness the innovativeness and the capabilities of external developers and service providers and transform itself into an all-purpose enterprise computing infrastructure provider.

This is what we started doing but always dedicated to medical imaging.

In our amazing journey, we found ample support both from our people, but also from the members of our community.

Today in the 3Dnet marketplace we make five pledges:

Commitment: Biotronics3D is equally committed to supporting its users, innovators & vendors on the principle that “the ecosystem will grow if each of its parts grows”.

Leadership: Biotronics3D is actively looking for opportunities to bring on board opinion leaders and influential research groups from the different specialties of clinical imaging; as well as the “movers and shakers” of advanced imaging analysis community. 3Dnet not only allows them to distribute their applications but also to spread their workflows, knowledge, and know-how. Through collaborative grants or partnership programs, Biotronics3D can provide the support for R&D; from prototyping and technology transfer to clinical validation and route to market.

Independence: Innovators and vendors are free to define a model for distribution and pricing; Biotronics3D would only provide guidance on request.

IP Ownership: Biotronics3D does not wish to take any rights in any Intellectual Property developed by an innovator/vendor and these rights will remain with the innovator/vendor.

Marketing: All public apps and services, which any user or organisation can subscribe to, are visible on 3Dnet marketplace. Biotronics3D will promote all new applications through its marketing media, channels, and while exhibiting at international trade-shows and conferences.

Finally, at Biotronics3D, we believe that innovation is the key to progress. Our vision encompasses a different technology, a different business, and a different philanthropic model to modernise healthcare, based on and driven by novel ideas.

Through our platform, we aim at creating a strong research & development community that will lead and change Diagnostic Imaging.

We call all medical imaging software technology providers, from AI inventors to advanced workflow modules,

We call all medical imaging service providers, from teleradiology companies to business consultants,

We call all medical imaging hardware providers, from suppliers of diagnostic monitors, to scanner manufacturers.

And we invite you all to participate in this transformation by building and enriching our thriving community with your products, talent, and creativity.

It is time for the 3Dnet Agora!

Please visit http://marketplace.3dnetmedical.com


Believe It can be done - with comments