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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Research Proposal

The Cloud and User Innovation

The proposal Background (200 words)

The cloud is a new way of storing and analysis data. It has mainly been used by companies as an economic way of storing data.  Increasingly, it is now possible to analyse data in the cloud. The cloud now allows companies to collaborate in new and exciting ways. Now members of staff can share and analyse data in a much more effective way. This could potentially change how people work in the future.

User Innovation is a new way of developing a product. Traditionally a product was first developed by a company and then they brought it to market. This way was not always effective. Now many companies develop products and services in entirely new ways. The now involve the customer at a very early stage in the development of a product and view them as a stakeholder in product development process.

The cloud offers companies new ways to collaborate with the customer. It can allow for the quick transfer of data and this greatly facilitates collaboration.  The cloud can help business to collaborate more quickly and efficiently with their customers in user innovation.  There has been little research on the role of cloud computing in the process of user innovation.

Describe the context of application and provide the reader with some background and main notions/concepts (200).

Usually the company enters a contract with a cloud service provider and is just looks like paying for the utility connection that has metered charges and the user pays for service that has been consumed by the cloud user. (Holley, 2012) There are mainly three services on which it works SAAS: Software as a service, PAAS and IAAS.   There are also many cloud service providers including Google, Microsoft and Amazon (AWS). The cloud is allowing a business to operate more effectively in the dynamic global marketplace (Marston et al, 2011).

Companies need to innovate if they are to survive in the present highly competitive environment.  Innovation involves the development of a product that meets the markets needs in a new and cost-effective way.   Companies need to innovate and user innovation is one way that is recommended by the literature. Now more and more companies will consult the customer and involve them in the design. Despite the growing popularity of the cloud there has been little or no research on how the cloud can help companies to innovate.  There is little in the literature as to how the cloud can be used to enable user innovation, despite it now becoming ubiquitous.

Informal description of the problem (200 words)

The cloud can change the way that a business works and its operations. This is very important in the modern age when a company must change its business model on a regularly basis (Marston et al, 2011). User innovation is a way of maximising the chances of success for a service or product. The cloud allows as we have seen the quick exchange of data. How can this prompt exchange of data be used How can this be applied to help user innovation? There are now many analytical tools available on the cloud and they can help businesses to analyse data and in this way to innovate. How can this be applied to the user innovation has largely not been identified. Collaboration is it generally agreed can help companies to work more effectively and innovate. The cloud enhances collaboration between customer and the company.  Yet there is no real research on the issue of how the cloud can help collaboration in user innovation. Then there is the issue of the company or cloud service provider that best allows for user innovation, the one that allows the customer and the company to innovate, by developing new products based on the customer's input.

Literature review + state-of-the art approaches to solve problem + gaps (500 words)

.  The cloud service usually does involve a company subscribing to a cloud provider. Thus, there is no need for a server. and the construction of an elaborate IT infrastructure.  The cloud is involved in the storing and the analysis of data. Many in the literature argued that that it is a form of outsourcing.  The cloud means that the company can outsource its data management and storage needs. The cloud offers an economical solution for company's data processing needs.  The company can subscribe to whatever type of, and level of service it needs from a cloud service provider (Bruneo et al, 2013).   The cloud means that there is no need for a physical infrastructure in an office and it also allows businesses to operate effectively on mobile devices. The literature argues that the cloud can help businesses to develop a more efficient business model (Franke and Piller, 2004). In recent years, this has been the most important driver in the adoption of the cloud.  The cloud is no longer seen as just a cheap way of storing data and doing away with the need for a server. Increasingly the cloud has become a driver of businesses. There are now a whole range of functions that are available on the cloud. Now companies can access enterprise relation software or customer management relationship management tools in the cloud (Parcel, 2014 and Allen, 2014). These can provide a company that subscribes to a cloud provider with the means to understand the customer and the market better and in this way to expand and grow its business (Bruneo et al, 2013).

User innovation per the literature, states that it is a form of innovation that involves collaboration and good communications. It means companies seeing customers as strategic partners. Sharing knowledge and information is essential. Von Hipple believes that the customers should help in the design, development and even marketing of a product (2001). This will require effective communication between the innovator and the end user. They will need to have a good relationship. Some of the literature suggest ‘ideas sessions' where the user and the innovator exchange ideas.  There are three main advantages to user-innovation.

• Lower costs- the customer can help the company to develop products more cheaply limiting the need for market research and costly R & D (Allen, 2014).

• The needs of the customer are central to the planning process and this means that they are more likely to purchase it. This can make a company more competitive (Gustafson et al, 2012).

• It can reduce the time that it takes to develop a product and it can be brought to market much earlier (Urban and Von Hipple, 1998). User innovation can enable a company to successfully innovate.  

There is a lot of literature and research on user innovation and cloud computing. However, there is a gap in the literature about how the cloud can be used to help businesses to innovative. It does not indicate how they can communicate and collaborate in better ways via the cloud to allow them to innovate with their business partners (Urban and Von Hipple, 1998).

Research question (25 words)

The Research Question that was developed by identifying the gap in the literature is.

How can the cloud be used in the process of user innovation?

Hypothesis/hypotheses + research objective/s (200 words)

The hypothesis for this research is that

‘Cloud computing is very suitable for user innovation'

The hypothesis is that the cloud can be very beneficial when it comes to innovation in general and specifically about user innovation. The hypothesis for this study is that the cloud can be an effective way for companies of all sizes to collaborate and to communicate online. The ease with which it allows the transfer of data is something that is particularly important in user innovation. The technology enables the customer and the company to combine their efforts to design new products even if they are not physically present and this is encouraging' innovation.

The objective of the research has been developed based on the research question. They have been developed in line with the research question. They have also been developed by the need to provide businesses with insights into how they could apply the cloud to user innovation. The following research objectives have been established by the researcher.

1 Does the cloud allow for the transfer of more data?

2 Does it facilitate better communications?

3 Can the cloud be used to enable more collaboration?

4 How effective is the cloud in user innovation?

The research hypothesis will be tested by a qualitative study- that will collect data from interviews to confirm or refute the hypothesis.

Design/implementation (500 words)

The research philosophy will assume that there is no objective reality and that what is considered reality is constructed by the subjective views and experiences of individuals. The study will be a qualitative one. Each layer of the research onion depicts its own importance. The first layer of the research onion is philosophy. Research philosophy mainly means developing the nature of the knowledge of what you already have. (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2009). The research design will be one that is based on the interpretivism (Denscombe, 1998). That is the world is constructed based on the subjective views of people, under the influence of their social surroundings. So, the focus of the study will be on the assumptions to be made in relation to the research question (Cresswell, 2002).

The second layer of the research onion includes the approach the researcher is going to use during its research. The approach could be deductive or inductive.  This study will use the deductive approach. The Deductive involves the developing of a hypothesis, based on existing theories and this will allow for further analysis. Kumar states that the deductive approach allows a researcher to explore an existing phenomenon and the testing of a theory (2005).

The researcher will conduct an extensive literature review on the main theories on user innovation and cloud computing. After a gap in the literature was identified this was developed into the research question.

The next step in the methodology was the selection of a research strategy. The researcher selected the qualitative method. This will involve collecting data on the research question in the form of words. The researcher will seek the opinions of those who are familiar with the cloud and user innovation to understand the issues involved. Their opinions will be sued to test the hypothesis.

The study will be a cross-sectional study and it will retrieve data from the participants over a short duration of time.

The sampling method will be a purposive one. That is only those who are experience in the area being investigated. Only those who have some experience in the area will be invited to participate in the research.  Inclusion and selection criteria will be used to identify those who are suitable to participate in the research. They will be contacted and invited to take part by the researcher who will conduct the interviews either face to face or via a digital platform such as Skype.

The main research instrument will be the interview. All the questions will be constructed in such a way as to collect relevant data. They will be developed considering the literature review and the gap in the literature that has been identified.  The interviewees will be asked semi-structured question. These are questions that will require the interviewees to expand on the answer. They will require the interviewees to provide their opinion on the matter and this will allow the researcher to collect a rich data set for the research question.

Evaluation of designed solution (300 words)

The methodology selected and the research designed have been developed considering the research question. Based on the researcher's philosophical position the methodology is deemed suitable for the collection and the analysis of data. The research design was based on the need to provide qualitative data on the research question. This form of data will allow the research question to be investigated in an-depth manner. The methodology that has been outlined, based on the research onion will allow the research to develop a step by step and systematic approach to the research problems and provide them with not only a rich set of data but also reliable and valid evidence.

The findings from the interviews will be recorded by the interviewer. He will then turn the findings into a narrative. The narrative will then be subject to thematic analysis. The researcher will identify patterns and concepts that emerge from the findings. The themes will then be identified by the researcher and presented in his findings. These themes will then be compared to the research objectives. They will be analysed in relation to the literature reviewed in the literature review. Each of the themes will be related to each of the four research objectives. The researcher will use the themes to illustrate the research objectives. The themes will be analysed to determine if the cloud does indeed enable better communication, collaboration and facilitate the transfer of data. The themes will also be related to the concept of user innovation. The ability of the cloud to aid this form of innovation will be analysed. This analysis will then will then be related to the hypothesis. The data analysed will used to determine if the researcher's hypothesis has been proved or disproved.

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