WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT

"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." Steve Jobs

CAN YOU KNOW WHAT CUSTOMERS WANTS?
Avenues for Product Development 

Listening to the “voice of Customers” is a typical approach in product development processes and product strategy. Yet it does have limits,  especially when it comes to innovation in rapid changing industries and more broadly in disruptive innovation. In fact, it is really hard to ask a person to withstand the cognitive load of imagining a new situation and new use pattern, a different way of doing something they already try to do.  Attempting to take a customers away from a mental pattern they are used to and ask the to do product development thinking on your place will often result into scattered and biased findings. Moreover in rapidly changing industries, where the penetration of substituent product and the general peace of change is relevant: your current customers do not necessarily be the early adopters of a new product or business model. Asking them may result in biased inputs in the product development cycle as well as  lead to an inconsistent product strategy.

VALUE CHAIN AND ECOSYSTEM CONSTRAINS

When designing a product innovation or service innovation it paramount to understand the ever changing role of the value chain and more broadly the ecosystem. The value chain is constituted of all the actors that play a direct role in delivering the product and service to the end users. Some of these actors may have disincentive in your innovation even though you did your homework during the product development process. Identifying the set of disincentives and their magnitude is paramount in product strategy. More broadly it is necessary to look at the entire ecosystem of regulations, regulatory bodies, adjacent industries to determine where roadblocks in new product or service adoption may lie.

Ecosystem-product-development
semantic analysis in product development

ANALYTICS APPROACH TO JOB-TO-BE DONE DISCOVERY

The proliferation of blogs, social platforms and crowd sourced customers’ reviews, offers a new and formidable avenue to study customers needs. However, typically most work in this area is focused on sentiment analysis. We believe this limits the opportunities for leveraging social media and users’ generated reviews as valuable and effective inputs in the product development process. Semantic analysis and big data processing can actually uncover contextual information that is crucial to spot un-meet needs in product development.  Further, the combination of several data inputs such as (SEO search metrics, documents, literature etc..) can uncover the magnitude of certain unmet needs, the degree of pain felt in the end users. Big data analytics is a formidable weapon in new product strategy and business model innovation.

LEAD USERS REVISITED: ROLE OF START UPS.

In rapid changing industries, the information gathered with quantitative analysis may not be entirely sufficient to define the correct product formulation or service approach. Von Hippel at the MIT in Boston has developed a technique known as : lead users. The technique to further product innovation in rapidly changing industries, is based on the concept that certain users have identified a pain earlier than others and have already taken some measures to solve it. By studying these measures it is possible to anticipate market evolution and design disruptive products. We believe in “Lead searchers”. That is the ecosystem of start ups who have identified a certain need, technology or business model trend on which they want to build a sustainable business.  Although most time start ups fail for a variety of reason, they can offer extremely important leads in product development. A continuing monitoring and deep analysis of product features and services models is a crucial element of  product strategy.

Lead Searchers in Product development