Enhance your innovation cycle by knowing customers, competitors and collaborators
Research by CEB reveals that the top priority of R&D leaders is to beat competitors to market with big innovations—but 90% of them also believe their pipelines are slow at turning ideas into successful products. According to the same research, R&D managers report that one third of their projects are behind schedule. Enhancing the innovation cycle is not just about speed to market, it’s also about ensuring your product is profitable so that R&D resources aren’t wasted.
Research suggests that staying close to end users, understanding the competitive landscape and outsourcing part of your R&D to collaborators ensures that only quality products can beat your competitors to market.
Customer-centricity can reduce bottlenecks at ideation
The main purpose of the ideation stage is to generate lots of ideas so that the business can select the most promising ones. According to Crawford, the most commonly used methods for ideation are brainstorming and gap analysis. Although these can generate new ideas, they don’t tell you which ones will be successful. Research suggests that product ideas originating from customers have a higher success rate and customer-focused idea generation is a critical success factor at the ideation stage.
You can understand customer needs by carrying out surveys and working with other departments (such as marketing) to understand what consumers want. This can narrow ideation focus and reduce bottlenecks. Furthermore, research by Souder suggests that internally generated ideas had lower success rates than externally generated ideas. Project ideas originating from marketing and customers have a higher success rate compared with ideas originating from R&D.
IP data can help with scoping ideas and building a business case
At the scoping stage, quick preliminary investigations may be done to identify risk, competitors or gaps in the market. Patent data is a great way to understand all these. According to the European Patent Office (EPO), 70% of the information in patent documents isn’t available elsewhere and more than 800,000 patents are granted annually around the globe.
Patent data can help you scope your idea by identifying if it’s already been patented by someone else has. For example, by analysing a competitor landscape, you can identify what your competitors are developing, new players in the market and if your idea could infringe on an existing patent.
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(Competitor patent landscape showing white space from the PatSnap platform)
Alternatively, you can look at the technical information in patents to understand the details of making a similar product. This can cut time during scoping—because you don’t have to start from scratch—as well as validate your ideas. Technology trends from patent data analysis can identify where the market is going and promising gaps within it.
To build the business case, a detailed investigation involving primary, market and technical research is necessary. This involves a product and project definition, justification and plan for development. A combination of data points, such as IP data and end user data, are essential for building a business case. If there is sufficient need for a product among end users and IP data suggests that there is a lucrative opportunity, you can build a business case.
IP data helps with project definition by showing which products are out there and why yours is novel. Reading the claims in patent documents can help you understand the novel features of an invention and whether yours is distinctive enough to pass as a new invention.
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Competitive intelligence and collaboration is key for rapid and successful development
At this stage, new product designs and production processes are fleshed out.
Understanding the competitive landscape is crucial, so it’s worth keeping an eye on daily patent filings within your technology area—a competitor may have filed a patent covering your invention. You can avoid infringing by modifying the technical specifications of your invention.
Once a manufacturing process is laid out, businesses can get to market quicker by outsourcing some of the activities involved. Manufacturing every part of the product can be time consuming and a waste of resources, unless that process is a critical component of the product. Research by Chakraba suggests that time can be saved if organisations limit internal tasks, by resisting the “not invented here syndrome” and selectively borrowing already completed products made by others.
You can access the knowledge and expertise of external partners, who can create parts of products that you’re not equipped to make.
According to Chesbrough, organisations cannot rely solely on their internal skills. Accessing the skills of external partners is a non-negotiable condition for the success of the innovation process.
Testing products on end users can validate your project
At this stage, products are tested in the marketplace or lab for validation.
End users are again extremely important at the testing and validation phase of the R&D cycle because the usefulness of a product will determine its success. Research by Callahan and Lasry suggests that the importance of customer input and customer intensive research, is higher before and after the development stages. Furthermore, a study by Cooper suggests that a test phase that is customer-orientated is correlated with new product success. You’ll learn whether customers are likely to buy the product and prefer it over what they currently have. You can also identify and improve any flaws, and ensure that R&D efforts are focused in the right areas.
Licensing your invention can help recoup R&D costs
Once you are ready to take your product to market, it may be worth protecting your inventions using patents. This can prevent competitors from launching a similar product. You can also generate additional revenue by finding organisations to which you can license patented technologies.
According to Intellectual Pats, licensing your invention gives you a competitive advantage over other players in the market. For example, if you license your technology to one of the biggest distributors in the market, it’s easier to get outstanding market penetration, spread brand awareness and increase sales.