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  1. Getting Voice of the Customer Right:  Taking the Ambiguity Out of Product Definition [Transcript] Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-11-20

    Led by Sheila Mello, Principal and Managing Partner, Product Development Consulting, Inc.Schedule slips, wasted development resources, and products that fail or never make it to market – these are some of the consequences of poor product definition. Identifying unambiguous customer requirements is at the core of a company’s potential for growth – it determines everything from where your development time and dollars are spent to what your customers might pay a premium for. This session outlines a step-by-step process for generating products that provide maximum customer value. This process balances your company's core competencies with market needs, positioning you to surpass competitors. (21 pages)

  2. Getting Voice of the Customer Right: Taking the Ambiguity Out of Product Definition [Presentation Slides] Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-11-20

    Presentation Slides accompanying the transcript above: "Getting Voice of the Customer Right: Taking the Ambiguity Out of Product Definition." Download these slides to follow along with the transcript.

  3. Black and Decker’s Strike Force Takes to the Road Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-29

    Black and Decker's (B&D) Strike Force team is a roving band that brings product development directly to the customer. Strike Force consists of teams driving vans loaded with B&D tools and prototypes to sites around the country. Typical destinations include retailer’s grand openings and community events. The Strike Force sets up an elaborate display that allows for large numbers of users to test an array of tools – while they are carefully observed. Team members include product managers, engineers and industrial designers. When not driving to event sites, team members spend 100 percent of their working time with consumer-users. As few as three and as many as ten B&D people are present at each event. They provide explanatory material about the tools and start participants off at the first workstation. At any given event, the Strike Force expects to work with an average of 600 people a day. By inviting the consumer to participate in the creation of products that satisfy and serve real needs, the Strike Force serves to bring user awareness into the heart of product development. (5 pages)

  4. Product Strategy 101: The Saturn Difference Targets Customer Enthusiasm Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-28

    From its inception, Saturn was challenged to introduce a new American car into a highly competitive and vastly oversupplied marketplace, in a time of national economic uncertainty, when more and more Americans were buying imports. To succeed, Saturn had to foster a different kind of consciousness. “The Saturn Difference” was a customer-focused culture and process aimed at attracting and satisfying import-minded buyers. The central idea that drives Saturn rests in the phrase “moments of truth.” These moments include all of the points where customers interact with the company. Saturn created a list of these moments, including such items as exposure to an ad for the product; walking into a retail facility; asking for a test drive; buying the product; bringing it in for service; and coming back for a trade-in. Each moment of truth was analyzed to identify what it would take for customers to feel enthusiasm, to share it with others, and to keep coming back. Saturn’s moments of truth research resulted in seven books that detail every aspect of laying out and running a first-rate auto store. The goal: consistent, high-quality customer experience across the entire spectrum of buying and owning a Saturn product. (4 pages)

  5. How Partnering With the Customer Helped Nortel Shift Strategy Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-28

    Northern Telecom (Nortel) put itself on the fast track to becoming a “solutions” rather than a “technological products” company by inviting end users to participate in product design and development. Nortel's “Solutions Through Partnership” process began with focus-groups intended to provide designers with product feedback. Two sessions, each lasting two days, occurred off site: one session was devoted to distributors, the other to end users. Enthusiastic end-user response gave the Nortel group support to go further – bringing in end users to look at a whole new redirection of products built around broad customer business objectives and needs. Nortel created a two-part program.The first part aimed at understanding end user’s major business challenges, surfacing trends, and learning how telecommunications technology could support their performance; part two brought designers back to present prototypes based on earlier feedback. As designers stepped into the end-user’s shoes, new product design criteria, based on customers’ genuine needs, become the designer’s key objectives. Nortel also discovered that building end-user feedback into design reduced cost on a release-over-release basis, and improved time to market. (6 pages)

  6. Dade International Uses Market-Driven Product Definition to Prioritize Customer Requirements Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-27

    Dade International became quite proficient at the development process from the feasibility stage through commercialization. But Dade benchmarking studies indicated that its teams could get much greater value for their R&D dollar through optimizing the "fuzzy front-end" of the development process. Dade turned to Market-Driven Product Definition, a method for gaining clarity around customer requirements, for reducing risk and limiting guesswork. Market-Driven Product Definition is a five step process for discovering customers’ latent needs, establishing measurable criteria for meeting requirements, and limiting confusions that lead to costly delays. With MDPD, team members collect unfiltered customer information; they translate responses collected from customers into requirements; they establish metrics for downstream development; the team then validates, prioritizes, and selects requirements using traditional market research tools such as surveys; and finally, they generate product specifications, by inviting creative problem solvers to participate in idea generation. Says a manager at Dade, “MDPD get(s) the whole team involved in understanding the environment in which we’re going to introduce a product…focusing on what needs to be done, from the customer's point of view." (6 pages)

  7. IBM ThinkPad 760CD Success Reflects Changes to Internal Culture and Streamlined Processes Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-27

    This report describes best practices from the team that created IBM’s ThinkPad 760CD, an award-winning notebook computer in the 1990s. The team employed a combination of traditional and unconventional methods to hear the voice of the customer. At one end of the spectrum, they used focus groups, quantitative market research, and surveys, as well as working the industry trade shows. They also held customer and industry advisory council meetings with customers, competitor's customers, re-sellers, and distributors, as well as with significant industry opinion leaders. At the less-traditional end of the spectrum are their Road Warriors Council and ThinkPad Partners. The first is what an IBM director calls "heat seekers" – Lead Users who provide candid feedback. The ThinkPad Partners is a small band of Internet junkies who may be likened to Harley Davidson’s owners group. They devote up to 20 hours a week of unpaid time, responding to questions about ThinkPads. Along the way, IBM has learned that spending less on product development may pay greater dividends, in terms of product cost and time to market, by avoiding product complexity. (4 pages)

  8. Cisco Systems Uses Web-Enabled Processes To Drive Market Focused Product Development Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-27

    This report describes how Cisco Systems, a leading provider of networking equipment and related products, has used the Internet to enhance global product development, create efficiencies and reduce time-to-market. In an environment characterized by increasing globalization and customization, Cisco developed Internet-based tools to capture customer insights and enhance communication, both internally and with its growing network of suppliers. Cisco’s tools create efficiencies in all phases of the development process: integrated front-end tools for design and development; integrated portals for the team to access and exchange information in real-time; and integrated back-end tools for coordinating suppliers with manufacturing and production. This report describes how Cisco leveraged these tools to gain value-added design and development input; to enable collaboration and reduce cycle time; and to integrate suppliers with manufacturing and production through a set of common tools. Cisco’s experience shows that it’s important to get the process right first – and then choose the right technology to facilitate that process. (6 pages)

  9. Silicon Graphics Inc. “Produces Chaos” Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-25

    Silicon Graphics (SGI) is a different kind of company. It empowers teams to an extraordinary degree and every employee is a stockholder. It has no formal process gates and operates like “the world’s largest start-up.” This report details four key practices that led the fast-growth company to produce a big winner, the Indigo2 IMPACT workstation: 1) overlapping development phases, 2) use of lighthouse accounts, 3) aggressive use of the newest technologies, and 4) outsourcing and supplier partnering. Rather than a traditional serial approach, SGI works on requirement definition, concept development and project execution simultaneously. SGI uses the term "lighthouse account" to identify lead users, market leaders with whom SGI forms a special partnership. The company also sticks to doing only what it does exceptionally well, outsourcing the rest only to demonstrated world class performers. (5 pages)

  10. Communispace Offers Product Developers Online Access to Customers Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-09-25

    Communispace, based in Watertown, MA, is a pioneer in the field of Web-based software and supporting services to enable and facilitate online communities. These communities fall into three categories: customer communities – up to 250 customers who provide feedback to the sponsoring company in the form of ideas and suggestions about existing and new products; internal work communities – geographically-dispersed members who share best practices or collaborate on a common project; and learning communities: "virtual classroom" environments. Communispace employs its own community, the Facilitator’s Forum, to help the company in its product design. This forum also offers an environment in which the company can beta-test new product releases among community members. This report covers the basics of using on-line communities to generate customer insights: how such sites are configured; the skills needed to facilitate a rich on-line dialog; how to launch an on-line community; and how to get the most out of it. (7 pages)

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