Being market oriented is easy to say but very hard to do. It's an ongoing process not a one point in time collection of information When asked, most companies say they understand their customers' needs, they're aware of what their competitors are doing and that by working in the industry for many years they know it inside out. Tell that to all the businesses caught out by unexpected competition, market convergence, and disruption by cheaper alternatives. Tell that to all the companies with the latest and greatest technologies that failed to make their mark.
Being market oriented is more about insight than it is about statistics. It's about how to disseminate and use the insights to drive business growth. We work with our clients not only to collect and analyse these insights but to ensure they're embedded into the key planning and control processes that drive the growth of the business.
"You can be so bad at so many things... and as long as you stay focused on how you're providing value to your users and customers, and you have something that is unique and valuable... you get through all that stuff." - Mark Zuckerberg
In many markets there are very different people involved in the buying vs. the use of a product or service. Understanding the roles, power and perceptions of the different players in a value chain is essential to uncovering the true value proposition of your offering and the key challenges to successful market entry. This is never more important than when you're seeking support from investors or marketing partners who will want market evidence that supports your proposal.
The best way to safeguard your investment in R&D and innovation is to involve the customer early. Customers can't always tell you exactly what they want but they will tell you what they're trying to get done, the challenges they face and what they think of an idea for a product or service.
And you can do all of this before you spend any of your R&D budget. It won't be prescriptive and it won't stifle creativity. But it will allow you to give a better brief to the product development team and get more bang for your buck from your R&D budget.
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