Does this sound like you?
I work in a corporation and have an idea for a new product or service, now what?
1. Start with the customer
The first thing you will want to do is to understand where your idea fits with customers. You have to know your customers well enough to be able identify where you can add value and improve their business.
How you get to know your customers is very important. Sending them a questionnaire asking them what they need is not going to give you what you need.
They probably don’t know. You will have a better appreciation if you can live and breathe their business. Be the customer if you can.
I will share with you a personal story. Many years ago I frequently rode my bicycle with a group of fellow cyclists. We enjoyed stopping for a meal at the half -way point of the ride. To be comfortable riding a bike for hours, one wears lycra shorts. That was perfect for the ride, but as a female walking into a restaurant I was not comfortable in the lycra shorts. I always thought having a wrap around skirt would do the trick, but I didn’t act on the idea. Today bike riding or running skirts are very very popular.
The point of this story is to demonstrate how as a customer, using the product or service you are more likely to uncover new ideas and improvements, than if you stay on the sidelines asking questions. So think about how you can get the customer experience in your business.
2. Define the technology
Once you have the idea it is time to move on to the next level of detail – the technology (and level of invention) required to develop, market and manufacture the product. The technology definition may also include a discussion of the infrastructure needed as a service provider if services are your choice.
In this phase you may want to look at technology trends to get ideas as to viability of the product and time it may take to develop and market. Points to consider:
o What are the focus areas for university funding?
o What request for proposals are the various governments requesting?
o What is your supplier’s 5 to 20 year plan?
o What are the technical associations publishing?
o What are industries looking at that are not the industry you are working? You may not think so now, but there are synergies between industries.
3. Gather competitive data (competitive intelligence)
You are not running your business in a vacuum; other companies are also looking to serve the same market sector. To determine if you are a new entrant to the market, fast follower or lagging the market take time to uncover what your competitors are investing in. Talking to vendors who sell to you and your competitors, looking for press releases, public announcements, patent applications and job postings can often give your clues where other companies are heading.
4. Define your organizational structure and resources
Once you know there is a market for your idea and you have a basic understanding of the technology needed to deliver a viable product or service it is time to think about how it fits your company. Will it be developed within the corporation or as a separate entity?
You will need to define the investment needed. This refers to people and resources. Describe an environment where you and others can innovate. Is this a physical room? Is it a global sharing site? Is crowd- sourcing software needed? How many hours a week can people spend exploring their ideas? What capital is needed to support?
5. Who has the last word
Ultimately, a member of senior management or a committee must decide if the idea is worth pursuing. Find out who makes the decisions a go or no go. Prepare to pitch your ideas in the format they will need to make their decision.
Watch the show “Shark Tank” to get examples on how to pitch your ideas. You will notice they start with an “elevator speech” to peak the curiosity of the investors.
This short, executive summary is typically a two minute overview which conveys the key points of the customer need, technology, competitive advantage and investment required. It should include enough information to tell decision makers why they should say “yes” to you.
Ready to make a big splash in the business world? Schedule a consultation session with E Carey & Associates and start developing the strategies to help your team produce great work.