FOCUS ON INNOVATING AROUND TECHNOLOGY RATHER THAN INNOVATING THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
One of the most important issues that have come up today focus on innovating around technology rather than innovating through technology and this has led to revelation of customer preferences which are apparently the most important concern. Customer-pull approach is used very much in the developing countries because they lack the extra input and efforts required to implement technology, hence they use the existing technology and incorporate it in their customer approach to get market domination. They find ways to conquer the customers’ demands without burdening the company with technological issues and constraints. Thus, the companies commit themselves to understanding the needs of their customers (who are less affluent) and devise creative solutions which captures a huge market. Knowing the customers and being perceptive to their needs is the essence of innovation and is likely to be brought about when that is focused on.
This ability to sense the market is very critical and customers should be considered the bailiwick of sales and marketing employees. Thus the rewards on focusing on the customers have impact on the managers in two ways: firstly the opportunities are identified and secondly, they become personally involved and thereby lead to organizational change. Thus becoming market focused is a healthy approach because: customer is more than just the next stop in the distribution chain, customers are a source of information not an insight, customers analysis can lead to small operational changes and those would add up to significant improvements and all levels of organization should be involved so as to become market focused.
This customer pull approach contributes to the innovation process by providing it structure. This is because the customer needs are identified as an opportunity and then the team members analyze the market gap and therefore, creativity is stimulated and then channelized in devising some solid plan for the company. The targeted segment has to be kept in mind and it should be benefits for the customers and thus financial benefits for the company in terms of cost reductions and increased revenues.
After becoming customer or market focused, there remains the question of what to do as yet to incorporate the changed approaches. Thus, for many organizations, the flow of new product ideas can lead to potential commercialization and can be a strategy to be pursued. There is a whole procedure of new product development which can be pursued so as to achieve the outcome of commercialization and growth for the company and this has the view of innovation. The process starts with idea generation and this can be done through ideas from the customers only through customer research techniques, competitive analyses and investigative activities. The next step is then forecasting and concept screening. This takes into view the ideas that are in line with the strategy of the firm and that can be further developed and quantified. The new idea which is to be selected has to be justified with reasonable sales forecast and components such as: market potential, growth rate, customer sales projections, and market friction and company impacts. The next step is of concept refinement and specifications of requirements. In this the customer needs are converted to what the product/service can do for the customer and the project manager has to become the voice of the customer. The target price and product specifications have to be done according to the perceived value of the customer for that product/service. Prototype testing is then done to ensure that product components and subsystems work together as planned and in the practical world rather than just the experimental conditions.
Thus, the process of new product has five essential steps which should be covered because they are in line with the customer centered approach of organizations which can lead to maximum commercialization. The new product objectives have to be in line with the company objectives, there has to be a stream of new ideas from various sources both reactive and proactive, there should be forecasting through various approaches and there should be a solid business case than can lead to proper outcomes for the firm.
As mentioned before, emphasizing on the customer and the market needs is one of the most important issues that have to be addressed and can lead to innovation and breakthroughs because the customers are the source of new brilliant ideas as per their needs. Then the whole process of product development can be the strategy to pursue by the firm so as to bank on the whole lot of creative ideas hoarded. And thus, the domination in the market is then the outcome and leads to commercial success.
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