Lessons Learned in Technology Assessment…Lesson 4…

This is the fourth of a series of posts to share with you six important lessons we’ve learned through our experiences working with numerous commercial clients in a variety of situations. On the path to your success in developing and commercializing technologies, they will help you avoid common pitfalls, unwarranted assumptions, and other sources of technical and commercial bias that could add up to business failures.

Lesson Four.

Find Out if “New” and “Improved” REALLY MATTER!

In this era of “voice of the customer” and data analytics, coupled with feedback from an eager salesforce, the sheer volume and rate of change of market input to new product development and improved product development activities can be overwhelming. Keep in mind that not everything “new” or “improved” is valuable or useful to your customer.

Lesson Four Case Study:

Client:  Global producer and marketer in the graphic arts industry

Situation:

  • Client goal: 30% of annual sales from new product introductions
  • Global salesforce suggested over 80 “must have” or “want to have” features for the next-generation graphic arts equipment, whittled down to 25 features after internal review
  • Resources required to develop and introduce these 25 features: $40 million

Technology Assessment Need:  Determine which of these 25 features really mattered to its global customer base

Our approach:

  • Identify 160 lead users of graphic arts equipment in 7 countries on 4 continents
  • Developed statistically based array of interview questions to elicit which new product features really mattered to them and why?

Outcome: Our work led to 2 important findings

  • First: our client’s current generation of graphic arts equipment very closely matched the equipment that was top-rated by our group of lead users. In fact, there were only 2 feature areas where our client’s equipment lagged the ratings of the top-rated competitor.
  • Second: we learned that the 25+ new “bells and whistles” initially proposed would not position our client well for the future. Customers of our client were positioning themselves to respond to the rapid technology changes associated with digital graphic arts equipment and were changing their ways of managing their capital expenditures in this area.

Based on our findings, our client company decided to allocate a portion of its $40 million product development budget to tackling the two features that customers rated lower than those of its competition. The rest of the development budget was redeployed to related product management activities and exploration of emerging digital technologies, both of which held promise for a sustainable impact on the bottom line.

For more on best practices in moving from lab-to-market, see http://www.prakteka.com/category/technology-assessment/

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Are you looking for new customers for your existing technologies and products?

Do you have excess manufacturing capacity you’d like to put to use?

Or are you launching a new product and need to understand which end-use applications are the most promising?

We’re ready and able to help you make your decisions with confidence. Contact us at http://www.prakteka.com/contact-us/

or via direct email at mah@prakteka.com

Engineering-to-Own-the-Space…a Best Practice Innovation Strategy

Engineering to Own the SpaceSM is a forward looking innovation and invention strategy. The objective of this strategy is to develop a proprietary position in target user/consumer benefit areas: instead of inventing just a new product, invent a new product space.

This invention strategy supports forward looking and commercially valuable patent strategies, by expanding the scope of innovation around specific inventions to gain broader patent protection and to inhibit “fast follow” by competition: instead of patenting to protect an invention, patent to protect the business area.

Key ANALYSIS steps in Engineering to Own the Space:

  • Gaps Assessment…..Detect vulnerabilities in existing intellectual property folios, focusing on linkages between IP and expected basis of commercial competitiveness
  • Cross-DomainSM Audit…..Identify context-shift possibilities for specific innovations and technologies (yours or others), developed for use in one industry or application that can be re-directed to your target markets and applications
  • Own-the-Space Audit….. Identify the larger pool of innovations and technologies (patented or public domain; yours or others), all of which could functionally satisfy the high value market need you’ve targeted
  • “Design-Around”…..Develop alternative technical paths to the same functionality, all of which could functionally satisfy the high value market need you’ve targeted

These key analysis steps produce some powerful results, including revealing:

    • “Holes” in patents that might allow competitors to innovate outside the protection of your patents
    • Existing functionally equivalent inventions that have gone unnoticed because the underlying IP was developed in/for completely different end-use applications
    • Novel technical paths to the same, or similar, end result as your original innovation

 

 

Use of Engineering to Own the Space (ETOSSM) has helped numerous businesses build value, from technology start-ups to Fortune 100 companies.  Interested in finding out how ETOS can help you, too?  Contact us at https://www.prakteka.com/contact-us/

And for more on what matters when you’re working at the technology/business interface, see our content on technology assessment, technology commercialization, technology valuation, and “seeing the future” on our website: https://www.prakteka.com/

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Engineering to Own the Space, ETOS, and Cross-Domain are service marks of Prakteka LLC.

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