Sense-making and trendsetting

Economic downturns are like storms. They don’t show-up in the face. They always start small and in the distant past, gather momentum and show-up when you are not ready. If you build capabilities to track the contributing factors, analyse the trajectory based on previous experience, it is possible to predict. Like storm-notifications and rescue effort preparedness. But still, damages occur and need attention to fix and get-back-up. But, as we learn and adapt, predictability and impact will multiply.

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Technology innovation and illusion of value

Innovation for a pre-defined purpose amounts to finding effective and intelligent solutions to a known set of problems. Boundaries of innovation and its application are either pre-defined or established early in the process of innovation. But in technology companies and for technologists, innovating for the sake of producing new technologies and solutions turn-out to be an exciting opportunity.

They may have a clarity on the piece of technology or solution they are building and totally lack how it can be put-to-use to extract economic value. Some of them may be ahead of time. A few may be incomplete from deployment point-of-view. A few may not have any obvious fitment to current customer situations.

Finding a problem to solve with this innovation becomes the challenge. Monetising innovation then hinges heavily on finding those problems and customers willing to pay for the same. When it becomes too difficult to find possible problems and application areas for these innovations, the value perception fades away. This hurts further innovation programs and pursuits. Innovation efforts turn out to be happy-engineering programs.

Pursuing technology innovation is important for overall progress. New Industries and businesses are formed due to intelligent application of technology innovations. It is hardly the same company innovating on both dimensions. To realize the true potential of the value of technology innovation, product, process and business model innovations become necessary.

When you are proposing, pursuing entrepreneurial journeys within a company or outside, make sure that you are clear about the innovation dimension relevant to your company and industry you are addressing. To monetize, you have to look for options for licensing, productizing, process-reengineering and building new business models as appropriate to the dimensions – technology, product, process, and business respectively. Else, the entire value of the innovation remains illusive.

When Technology innovations are easy to integrate & deploy, specific to a set of identified users and work on simple business models, finding appropriate problems and customers might become easier. Since the value of a solution/ innovation is seen only in the use of it, finding and engaging with potential customers and users early in the cycle is very important to keep your pursuit on track and build a remarkable craft.

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How market research can hurt innovation

Market research is a good tool to understand customer behaviour with existing products, players and options. It fails many times when used for predicting acceptance and potential of new category products and solutions. Especially in estimating consumer demand due to changes in behaviour induced by your new products and solutions.

Consumer behaviour changes depend on the real use of products and services. You have to get the product/solution into the hands of real users to predict the success in the market. Market research alone will not fill the gap in predictions. Always-beta is the best way to create market leading products and solutions. Instead of learning late and creating own barriers to success by using poorly analysed market research data, adopt market experimentation as a tool to gain necessary insight.

When consumers learn to use your products/ solutions, they let you learn how to present, price and provide the products/solutions. Market experimentation shows what you need to do to turn an innovation into a marketplace success.

In place of allowing dispassionate market research seeking an objective yes or no, let passionate intrapreneurs build and take to customers, usable products and solutions – working prototypes. Better still, release beta-products for enthusiastic customers to help you build remarkable products/solutions.

While building innovative products based on thorough market research, many companies tend to consider negative marketplace results as poor management performance. Market experimentation however helps to discover new and right opportunities even in failed ones.

Make the best use of market experimentation than sticking only to market research.

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