Teaching Note for Case “User-Generated Content Systems at Intuit(A)” E-381(A)

Abstract: This is a teach­ing note for the free case “User-Generated Con­tent Sys­tems at Intuit(A)”, E-381(A), from the Stan­ford Free Case col­lec­tion avail­able at ECCH. The orig­i­nal case is a pro­duct man­age­ment case in which Intu­it, mak­er of con­sumer and small busi­ness finan­cial soft­ware, faces the deci­sion to “go social or not” for user help in its tax prepa­ra­tion soft­ware. The orig­i­nal case dis­cuss­es the pros and cons of such a dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion. This teach­ing note pro­vides per­ti­nent ques­tions to ask your stu­dents as well as my sum­ma­ry answers to the­se ques­tions. I could not find an orig­i­nal teach­ing note hence I wrote this one. This is my first such note so any sug­ges­tions for improve­ment are wel­come. The note is licensed CC-BY-SA 3.0; feel free to use it in your own teach­ing. The note’s home is my web­site. For attri­bu­tion, please link to it.

Intro­duc­tion: This case, in my inter­pre­ta­tion, is about the fail­ure of tra­di­tion­al mar­ket research meth­ods when applied to dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion. Mar­ket research meth­ods like focus groups, inter­views and sur­veys, and usabil­i­ty labs only tell pro­duct man­agers about poten­tial incre­men­tal improve­ments of a pro­duct. Mar­ket research is good for sus­tain­ing incre­men­tal inno­va­tion. Mar­ket research doesn’t tell a pro­duct man­ager whether a pro­posed dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion is just a crazy idea or the next big thing. For such an inno­va­tion, pro­duct man­agers need to turn to intro­spec­tion, out­siders or exper­i­ments. Also, deal­ing with dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly hard for orga­ni­za­tions like Intu­it that are intense­ly cus­tomer focused. As the case reports, Intu­it spends sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time and resources on usabil­i­ty labs. Iron­i­cal­ly, cop­ing and intro­duc­ing dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion is much eas­ier for engineering-centric orga­ni­za­tions, but that is anoth­er case.

The teach­ing note is avail­able as a PDF file and an ODT file. The orig­i­nal free cas­es can be down­load­ed from ECCH. For your con­ve­nience, here are PDFs for E-381(A) and E-381(B).

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