Seven Critical Success Drivers – Why New Products Win

The challenge in successful product innovation is to design a playbook, blueprint, or process by which new-product projects can move from the idea stage through to a successful launch and beyond, quickly and effectively. Before charging into designing this playbook, let's first understand the secrets to success – what separates successful innovation projects from the failures, the critical success factors that make the difference between winning and losing.

Some are fairly obvious, but before you dismiss them as "too obvious", recognize that most firms still neglect them. As we probe each success driver, reflect on how you can benefit from each, and how you can translate each into an operational facet of your new-product system or playbook.

1. A unique, superior product is the number one driver of new-product profitability.

Delivering products with unique benefits and real value to users – bold innovations – separates winners from losers more often than any other single factor. Such superior products have five times the success rate, over four times the market share, and four times the profitability of products lacking this ingredient.

The definition of "what is unique and superior" and "what is a benefit" is from the customer's perspective – so it must be based on an in-depth understanding of different customer needs, wants, problems, likes, and dislikes:

  • Determine the customer needs at the outset – build in voice-of-customer (VoC) research early in your projects. Wants are usually fairly obvious, and easy for the customer to talk about. But spotting needs, particularly unmet and unarticulated needs, is more of a challenge, but often yields a breakthrough new product.
  • Do a competitive product analysis. If you can spot the competitors' product weaknesses, then you're halfway to beating them. The goal is product superiority and that means superiority over the current or future competitive offering. Never assume the competitor's current product will be the competitive benchmark by the time you hit the market!
  • Build in multiple test iterations to test and verify your assumptions about your winning-product design. Test the concept with users – and make sure they indicate a favorable response. That is, even before serious development work begins, start testing the product!

2. Building in the voice of the customer into a market-driven, customer-focused new-product process.

But the great majority of companies miss the mark here, with insufficient VoC and no fact-based customer insights (in more than 75 percent of projects, according to one investigation). A thorough understanding of customers 'or users' needs and wants, the competitive situation, and the nature of the market is an essential component of new product success.

Research has shown that top performing companies: work closely with customers and users to identify needs / problems, work with lead or innovative users to generate ideas, determine product definition via market research, interface with users throughout development, and seek market input to help design the Launch Plan.

Strong market focus must prevail throughout the entire new-product project, and should be considered throughout the new-product process:

  • Idea generation: Devote more resources to market -oriented idea-generation activities. The best ideas come from customers!
  • The design of the product: Use market research as an input to the design decisions to help guide the project team before they charge into the design of the new product.
  • Before pushing ahead into development: Be sure to test the product concept with the customer by presentation a representation of the product, and gauging the customer's interest, liking, and purchase intent.
  • Throughout the entire project: Customer inputs should not cease at the completion of the pre-development market studies. Keep bringing the customer into the process to view facets of the product verifying all assumptions about the winning design.

3. Doing the homework and front-end loading the project – due diligence done before product development gets under way.

The best innovators are much more proficient when it comes to completing activities in the "fuzzy front end" of projects – they do their homework:

  • Initial screening – the first decision to get into the project
  • Preliminary market assessment – the first and quick market study
  • Preliminary technical assessment – a technical appraisal of the project
  • Preliminary operations assessment – manufacturing and operations issues
  • Detailed market study, market research, and VoC research
  • Concept testing – testing the concept with the customer or user
  • Value assessment – determining the value or economic worth of the product to the customer
  • Business and financial analysis – just before the decision to "Go to Development" (building the business case).

Best innovators also strike an appropriate balance between market / business-oriented tasks, and conduct more homework prior to the initiation of product design and development. Furthermore, the quality of execution of the pre-development steps is closely tied to the product's financial performance.

"More homework means longer development times" is a frequently voiced complaint, and a valid one. But experience has shown that homework pays for itself in reduced development times as well as improved success rates:

  • Evidence points to a much higher likelihood of product failure if the homework is omitted.
  • Better project definition (the result of solid homework) actually speeds up the development process.
  • More homework up front anticipates changes to product design and encourages them to occur earlier in the process (rather than later when they are more costly)

Cutting out homework drives your success rate way down, and cutting out homework to save time today will cost you wasted time tomorrow. Make it a rule: No significant project should move into the Development stage without the actions described above completed, and done in a quality way. And devote the necessary resources to get the work done; that is, front-end load the project!

4. Getting sharp and early product and project definition means higher success rates and faster to market.

Securing sharp, early, stable, and fact-based product definition before Development begins is one of the strongest drivers of cycle-time reduction and new-product success. Best innovators clearly define the benefits to be delivered to the customer, they clearly identify the target market, the product concept is clearly defined, and the product features, attributes, and specifications are clearly defined.

Build in an integrated product and project definition step or check-point before the door is opened to a full development program. This integrated definition must be fact based: developed with inputs and agreement from the functional areas involved: Marketing, R & D, Engineering, Operations, etc. This definition has six components:

  1. the project scope
  2. target market definition
  3. product concept
  4. benefits to be delivered (the value proposition)
  5. positioning strategy
  6. product features, attributes, performance requirements, and high-level specs

Acknowledging a stable product definition is a challenge – even the best innovators struggle. Markets can be quite fluid and dynamic, so build in the necessary front-end homework, pin down the integrated product innovation as best you can before Development begins, specify in advance which part of the product requirements and specs are "known and fixed" versus which as "fluid, uncertain, and variable", and build steps into your development process to gather data so that the "variable parts" of your product definition can be pinned down as development proceeds.

5. Spiral development – put something in front of the customer early and often – gets the product right.

Spiral development is the way that fast-paced teams handle the dynamic information process with fluid, changing information. Many businesses use too rigid and linear a process for product development. By proceeding in a linear and rigid process, the project team and business set themselves up for failure.

Smart project teams and businesses practice spiral development. Best innovator businesses are 6 times more likely to interface with customers and users throughout the entire Development stage. They build in a series of iterative steps , or "loops, whereby successive versions of the product are shown to the customer to seek feedback and verification.

Use spirals – a series of "build -test-feedback-and-revise" iterations. This approach is based on the fact that customers do not really know what they are looking for until they see it or experience it – so get something in front of the customer in front of the customer or user fast (and keep repeating these tests all the way through to formal product testing).

6. A well-conceived, properly executed launch is central to new-product success.

Not only must your product be superior, but its benefits must be communicated and marketed aggressively. A quality launch is strongly linked to new-product profitability. Best innovators do the necessary market research – understanding buyer / customer behavior – in order to better craft the launch plan. They also conduct a test market or trial sell to validate the marketability of the new product and also test elements of the market launch plan. Best innovators also undertake a solid pre-launch business analysis, and most importantly, they execute the launch more proficiently – by a ratio of 3: 1 when compared to poor innovators.

Do not assume good products sell themselves, and do not treat the launch as an afterthought. A well-integrated and properly targeted launch does not occur by accident, however; it is the result of a fine- tuned marketing plan, properly backed and resourced, and proficiently executed.

Marketing planning- moving from marketing objectives to strategy and marketing programs – is a complex process. But this complex process must be woven into your new-product system.

Four important points regarding new-product launch and the marketing plan:

  1. The development of the market launch plan is an integral part of the new-product process: It is as central to the new = product process as the development of the physical product.
  2. The development of the market launch plan must begin early in the new-product project. It should not be left as an afterthought to be undertaken as the product nears commercialization.
  3. A market launch plan is only as good as the market intelligence upon which it is based. Market studies designed to yield information crucial to marketing planning must be built into the new-product project.
  4. Those who will execute the launch – the sales force, technical support people, other front-line personnel – must be engaged in the development of the market launch plan, and some should therefore be members of the project team. This ensures valuable input and insight into the design of the launch effort, availability of resources when needed, and buy-in by those who must execute the product and its launch (elements so critical to a successful launch).

7. Speed ​​counts! There are many good ways to accelerate development projects, but not at the expense of quality of execution.

Speed ​​to market is an admirable goal, and there are many apparently valid reasons that cycle-time reduction should be a priority:

  • Speed yields competitive advantage: First in will win!
  • Speed yields higher profitability.
  • Speed means fewer surprises.

Speed ​​is important, but not as vital as one might have assumed. Speed is only an interim objective – a means to an end. The ultimate goal, of course, is profitability. But many of the practices naively employed in order to reduce time-to-market ultimately cost the company money. They achieve the interim objective – bringing the product quickly to market – but fail at the ultimate objective: profitability.

Be careful in the overzealous pursuit of speed and cycle-time reduction. There are ways to reduce cycle time, however, that are totally consistent with sound management practice and are also derived from the critical success drivers outlined. Here are five sensible ways to increase the odds of winning but also to reduce time-to-market!

  1. Prioritize and focus: The best way to slow projects down is to dissipate your limited resources and people across too many projects. By concentrating resources on the truly deserving projects, not only will the work be done better, it will be done faster. But focus means tough choices: It means killing other and perhaps worthwhile projects. And that requires good decision-making and the right criteria for making Go / Kill decisions.
  2. Do it right the first time: Build in quality of execution at every stage of the project. The best way to save time is by avoiding having to recycle back and do it a second time. Quality of execution pays off not only in terms of better results but also by reducing delays.
  3. Front-end homework and definition: Doing the upfront homework and getting clear product and project definition, based on facts rather than hearsay and speculation, saves time downstream: That means less recycling back to get the facts or redefine the product requirements, and sharper technical targets to work toward.
  4. Organize around a true cross-functional team with empowerment: Multi-functional teams are essential for timely development and are a topic in the next chapter. Rip apart a badly developed project and you will unfailingly find 75 percent of slippage attributable to: (1) 'siloing', or sending memos up and down vertical organizational 'silos' or 'stovepipes' for decisions; and (2) "sequential problem solving". Sadly, the typical project resembles a relay race, with each function or department carrying the baton for its portion of the race, then handing off to the next runner or department.
  5. Parallel processing: The relay-race, sequential, or series approach to product development is antiquated and inappropriate for today's fast-paced projects. Given the time pressures of projects, coupled with the need for a complete and quality process, a more appropriate model is a rugby game or parallel processing. With parallel processing, activities are undertaken concurrently (rather than sequentially); thus, more activities are undertaken in an elapsed period of time. The new-product process must be multidisciplinary with each part of the team (Marketing, R & D, Operations, Engineering, Sales) working together and undertaking its parallel or concurrent activity. Note that the play is a lot more complex using a parallel rugby scheme, hence the need for a disciplined playbook.

Building the Success Drivers into Your Playbook

Many businesses have "operating procedures" or guides on how to do things right. Imagine you are crafting a new-product guidebook or set of operating procedures for how to do a new-product project right – for example, an "idea-to-launch playbook" or a stage-and-gate system to drive new products to market.

The Importance of Social Media Marketing Today

Marketing is essential to any business and is generally referred to as the most important aspect of any business strategy. Large companies spend millions of dollars to hire reputed agencies to handle the marketing of their business whereas smaller companies rely on more creative and cost efficient methods. In the extremely competitive world of today, social media marketing is the new 'in' thing and definitely here to stay. In a nutshell, it means using social media such as blogs, community sites, video sharing sites etc. to market a product or a business.

Certain popular websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube which have more than five million visitors everyday are considered to be an important hub for marketing. Promoting your business using these sites is a very attractive business proposition since they offer a huge amount of steady traffic everyday. In today's world, social networking is extremely successful and social media marketing is very important to a business because of the sheer number of people that access these sites regularly.

The reasons why this type of marketing is so important, or rather, essential for a business are many. Firstly it is a low cost investment when compared to the other options available, offering many links to your site for free. Social media is generally free to use but marketing the same thing through conventional methods would cost you thousands of dollars. These sites get a lot of traffic and they in turn generate traffic to your site. Also it acts like a word-of-mouth concept that people tend to believe when compared to commercial advertising.

To make a lasting impact on the user and build a successful business any entrepreneur should be adept in social media marketing. There are a number of factors to keep in mind while promoting your business online so as to maximize its potential and achieve realistic real time sales. Lehman Hailey believes marketing through social media is a potent method that will make your site profitable over time.

Following are a few pointers that an entrepreneur would do well to remember while utilizing the immense scope of this type of marketing. Firstly, one should always try to give a clear account of the company's product or the contents of the business instead of exaggerating and claiming the impossible because this discourages people from visiting your site whereas a more realistic picture generates slow but steady traffic over time. Secondly, it is important to post as many links as you can wherever there is a provision to do so.

Any business becomes profitable only if the end product promised by the company or the entrepreneur is really as good as advertised and produces customer satisfaction. There is no sure-shot formula for success using marketing since it only gives more visibility to the business and the end sales depend only on the efficiency of the product. However, social media marketing is an important tool that, when properly used is a highly beneficial and promising enterprise.

How to Become an Email Service Provider

Email Service provider should have the setup to send mass mails. There are many open source applications like Gmail, Exim and Postfix for this purpose. But these applications has its own limitations which restricts you from becoming a good email service provider.

– You can not have a pool of ips from which you can send mails randomly
– Can not follow the throttling limit set by various ISP's
– No bounce processing mechanism
– Email authentication methods like DK and DKIM not flexible enough to implement
– Limitation in the number of mails that can be send
– Problems in using server resource correctly

All of the above drawbacks can be removed if you are going for paid mail service application like ecelerity, ironport, PowerMTA etc. These application along with an interface for users to create email template (HTML mail templates), auto-responders and schedule mail campaigns will make you a good email service provider.

Since there is a tight competition nowadays, as there are many providers you should provide value added service like campaign monitor through which customers can come to know how many of their mails has got delivered to inbox, bounced etc. The web interface should be clean and easy to navigate, also you should have a strong technical support team who can constantly monitor the service and ensure high deliverability. High deliverability is closely related with the application you have chosen and most of the paid ones have the following advantages over open-source mail applications.

– Lakh's of mails per hour
– Highly efficient in implementing email authentication methods like DK, DKIM etc
– IPWarmup methods helps in getting good IP reputation
– Can set throttling limits as per the rules of ISP's
– Effective Bounce mail processing methods
– Flexible filters so that you can decide what all mails should go out and what should not
– Efficient usage of server resource
– Graphical representation of email delivery status
– Pool of ips can allocated to your clients so that their mails are send out randomly from these ips.

The Impact Of Computers On The Economy

The advent of computers has markedly improved our economy and standards of daily living as business, commerce and global trade has flourished at unprecedented rate over the past decades. Furthermore, it has significantly increased the utilization of resources which in turn resulted to a big deluge of output in many business establishments. Despite the brief periods of recession, the economy's sudden downward dive did not leave a devastating impact as predicted as it readily bounced back after a period of adjustments.

The computers served as a tool for global communication where the export and import of manufactured goods between and among countries' businesses are being arranged as communication through electronic mails or emails travel as fast as the speed of light. With the entry of imported products in the local market, consumers nowadays need not go abroad only to sample some of the world's finest food, clothing and apparel and grooming products.

As trade among nations allowed the phasing-out of some barriers, imported goods freely enter the market of a given country with a markedly reduced tax imposed on such goods thereby lowering the selling price of the manufacture. As the economic rule proves true that abundance in the supply lowers the price of a commodity. Because of the stiff competition, international manufacturers and suppliers are given no other alternatives except to mark down the price of their commodities to be able to stay on the business ladder.

Because of computers, Business Process Outsourcing or BPO has provided countries such as India, the Philippines and South Africa a kick to their economy by providing thousands of jobs to its workforce. Countries providing for outsourcing on the other hand, receive the biggest boost to their economy as they are relieved of paying for the manpower costs in their own country as cheaper labor cost in other countries allow them to cut-back expenses. Records show that India alone has revenues of US $ 10.9 billion from offshore BPO and US $ 30 billion from IT and total BPO in 2008 giving the country 5-6% share of the total BPO Industry.

The computers and the internet has provided for an avenue where scientists and researchers of pharmaceutical companies for example, to conduct modifications on certain medications, develop drugs of superior quality than other existing drugs and discover new ones that promise immense financial rewards for the sole production and distribution for a period of time.

Indeed, the invention of computers and the internet has become the most effective catalyst for competition to grow not in increments but in big deluge giving businesses the scare of their lives. As competition gets stronger, manufacturing companies employ various marketing strategies to increase sales which ultimately end up to benefit the consumers in general.

Aviation Industry of India

The Industry of Aviation in India is amongst the fastest growing globally. It has shown a growth rate of 18% per annum. The open policies of the government have led many foreign players to take interest in this sector. In fact, the private participation constitutes about 75% of this sector. India is thus fast becoming a major player in the global aviation market.

A few factors that have propelled the growth of this sector are: increased purchasing power, lower airfares due to the advent of low-cost carriers, emergence of India as a tourist country, more outbound travel, and the economic progress.

Growth Potential

The entry of low-cost carriers pioneered by Air Deccan helped greatly reduce the costs involved in flying. This helped attract consumers for whom air travel was only a dream. Now a number of low-cost airlines are operating in India, namely Go Airways, Spice Jet, and Kingfisher Air, and they have a major share of the Indian aviation industry.

Thus, domestic participation in this industry in India is projected to grow by 25-30% and internationally by 15%, increasing the potential customers by about 100 million in 2010. Also, by 2020 the cargo section is projected to rise to approximately three million tonnes.

Besides these factors, the initiatives by the government are a further boost to this industry. Its plans to modernize the infrastructure and develop more international airstrips are also proving to be an impetus to this industry. New airports are to be built to handle more traffic and ease the pressure on the existing airfields. Modernization of airstrips in metropolises is also being planned. All these initiatives are through public-private partnerships.

Aviation Policy in India

The policies of the Indian government encourage foreign participation.

Government allows 100% FDI via the automatic route for the green field airports. Also, foreign investment up to 74% is permissible through direct approvals while special permissions are required for 100% investment.

Private investors are allowed to establish general airports and captive airstrips while keeping a distance of 150 km from the existing ones. Complete tax exemption is also granted for 10 years.

About 49% FDI is allowed for investment in domestic airlines via the automatic route. However, this option is not available for foreign airline corporations. Complete equity ownership is granted to NRIs (Non Resident Indians). Foreign direct investment up to 74% is allowed for non-scheduled and cargo airlines.

Thus, all these policies promote foreign investment in this industry.

Future Scope

The Indian aviation industry is forecasted to grow phenomenally in the coming years. The Vision 2020 announced by the Civil Aviation Ministry conceives of building infrastructure to support 280 million customers.

Investments to the extent of US $ 110 billion are envisaged by 2020. About US $ 30 billion for development and sprucing up of existing airports and US $ 80 billion for building new fleets is being estimated. The aerospace giant Boeing projects that the Indian aviation industry will require about 1,000 commercial jets in the coming 20 years.

Related areas like repairs, maintenance, and training also provide good investment potential.

Thus, overall it is a very promising sector and a potent investment area.

Marketing Strategies and Tactics I

– Marketing dominance strategies

In this category of strategies, you see the world and the market in terms of market share; you know your market share, classify yourself as a leader, challenger, follower or nicher. Then you plan your marketing strategy accordingly.

– Leader: you have market dominance, you need to stress that you are the dominant business in your market because you are the best.

– Challenger: you are the next big thing, you should point out that the industry leader has gotten too big to care about customers, that you will change how things are going in the industry. You should project an image of being the next edgy thing to hit the market.

– Follower: you should consolidate your position never directly challenging the leaders while making alliances in the market. You wait for your opportunity to be a challenger or a leader.

– Nicher: you concentrate on your niche , taking care not to venture out unless you are confident of your odds outside of your niche.

– Innovation strategies

Here it is all about who is on the cutting edge, who churns out the new products and technologies before anyone else. You are a pioneer, close follower or late follower.

– Pioneer: You concentrate on being the one with the newest, hottest products around. You promise your customers will get the new technology before anyone else does.

– Close follower: You wait for other to pioneer in different direction, and when they are on to something, you quickly adopt it, improve it and make it your own.

– Late follower: You adopt only the most stable of technology, you stress to your customers that your products will be stable, tried and tested, with no bugs or last minute recalls.

– Growth strategies

When operating under growth strategies, your focus should be on how to make your business grow. You use:

– Horizontal integration: You try to expand by acquiring or starting new business in the same field as your main business, this way you control a bigger market share, and sideline the competition.

– Vertical integration: You try to acquire or start businesses that supply your current business or sell its products. This way you can have a stable production and delivery structure.

– Diversification: You try to conquer new markets with new products, expending in unexpected direction where you predict that there are great profits there.

– Intensification: You add new features to your existing products. You release new versions of your products. Trying to consolidate then expand your market position.