One thing that has held true for decades is the fact that if you are the one company that interprets future customer needs the best, you will most likely become the market leader. But how to interpret the future needs and is it possible to do so without rather large resources and advanced tools? In this article you will learn how your company could enhance your capabilities to better interpret market needs and transform intelligence into business value.
Psst. We will host a webinar on this topic at August 24th. Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post to sign up for 30 minutes hyper intense and exiting webinar!
The statement above holds true for any industry and company. Where market intelligence is the source that should feed both the innovation process where future customer needs should be envisioned and furthermore, market intelligence should be the foundation for any business case as well.
So, back to the questions “how to interpret future needs” and “are large resources and advanced tools required”?
Interpreting future needs with the aim to deliver solutions should not be seen as an attempt to predict entirely new needs that will pop up sometime in the future. How did Tesla become the highest valued (market cap) car company? Well, Elon Musk did not have a crystal ball where he would see an entirely new need arising, where people would abandon their Porsches for a completely new car brand that would run on electricity.
Elon Musk and Tesla did what any smart and growing company does, they gathered intelligence to understand and detect signals about change factors that points out a direction for a most likely future need and demand.
Interpreting future needs could be seen as two innovation paths, the linear path (incremental design and sustaining innovations) and the disruptive path (disruptive and radical innovations).
There is a linear innovation progress for most products. Often referred to as product enhancements. The current innovation path for mobile phones would be a good example of lineare innovations, where the majority of the changes in the latest models are enhanced hardware and features compared to the model before. What we did see happened to mobile phones 2007, when the first iPhone entered the market, was a disruptive innovation when a new player entered the market and wiped out companies such as Nokia (the current market leader before 2007), SonyEricsson and Motorola.
What could your company do to interpret future needs?
Depending on your current situation, whether you do little or some to interpret future needs it is highly recommended to determine if you have an effective process in place to transform intelligence into business value, i.e. actionable fuel for innovations and product enhancements.
First of all, you need to monitor and retrieve the information needed to detect signals and trends that will guide you toward the most likely future needs and demands. Questions to ask yourself are; where is this information, how could we monitor and retrieve the information and how often should we do so? In the best case, you monitor digital sources that publish news about science and technology and market reports that are related to your nische of the market. Monitoring social media (social listening) and discussion forums to detect signals is in some cases very valuable. You would then listen in on feedback from current customers and perhaps customers to competitors as well.
Second step is to validate and select the retrieved information. The better you manage to set up a good monitoring process, the less you would need to validate and select from the retrieved information. Just think of all the newsletters you subscribe to. Most likely you did so since they contain information that has an impact on your offering and how to improve over time. But newsletters often contain more information than needed, hence you need to spend a lot of time to validate and select, if you read them at all that is… The validation and selection of information could be as a first cull to cut out the noise and irrelevant information.
The third step is when the retrieved information is analyzed and enhanced. Imagine that you retrieve information that contains information about a technological breakthrough that might have an impact on your product's future. At this stage it could be a good idea to let an internal expert take part of the information, such as the R&D manager, before it is added to a report or shared with colleagues. He / she would contribute in the analysis to determine the value of the information and perhaps add some comments to enhance the retrieved information. In the stage of analyzing and enhancing the information it is important to keep in mind that you should enhance the information to make it easy for the receiver to decode and interpret the information. The receiver should easily understand, “why did I receive the information, what am I supposed to do, by when?”
Once the information is validated, analyzed and enhanced it is ready to be shared with the intention to make impact, i.e information made actionable for whomever in the organization that should be enlightened about potential changes and trends regarding the market and technology.
Often this information is shared in a yearly report, or random emails. If that is the way you currently share market and technology intelligence, stop right away! That is not how intelligence is made actionable, that is how you spend time and money with very little return. Information and intelligence that is supposed to drive actions for innovation and product enhancement must follow three rules when shared;
1) Share the information as soon as it is ready to be shared. The older the information is, the more likely it is that receivers won't care and worst case, they would see the sender as an unreliable source of intelligence.
2) The information must be easy to decode for the receiver. Remember the phrase: “why did I receive the information, what am I supposed to do, by when?”
3) Share the information in channels usually used in the organization and in a channel that opens up for dialogue and collaboration. Email might be a channel often used, but it is not very supportive for dialogue and collaboration. If you use Slack, MS Teams or have an intranet site with a forum for market and technology intelligence, those are much better alternatives.
What resources and tools are needed?
There are fortune 500 companies that spend millions of dollars per year to gather intelligence and to transform the intelligence into actionables. But you could get very far with limited resources and a small budget too.
If you have time to spend you could gather news letters and perhaps follow some RSS feeds from websites that publish the information needed. It requires no budget, but it is not very time efficient. You would have to spend a lot of time to perform the activities in a proper intelligence process if you go for the low cost, much time alternative.
You could hire an analytics firm to produce reports if time is a scarce resource and you have a budget for it. However, the kind of information you get from the reports falls short on the rules mentioned in the section where we describe “how to make information actionable”. The information will be partly outdated and often these reports are rather generic for the market and not as nisched as you would need it to be. I.e if you are a medical device company within dental care and implants, you don't need a report on the medtech market, nor on dental care products. You need intelligence on dental care and implants.
Finally there are SaaS (Software as a Service) tools that would support you in the entire process for intelligence. The tool would do the monitoring, support the selection of information and gather the information so that you can easily analyze, enhance and share it with you colleagues in order to make intelligence actionable. The beauty of SaaS tools is that they usually have a fairly low license fee and that you can test them for free before you decide if you would like to become a licensee.
Hoodin is one of these SaaS tools and you are more than welcome to test it for free. Besides a free 14-day trial, Hoodin always offers a free expert consultancy hour to help you set up the perfect intelligence project to solve your unique needs.
Book your free trial and expert meeting here: https://www.hoodin.com/book-demo
Sign up for the webinar "Market and Tech intelligence as a key drivers for successful medtech innovations" where we will show you how Hoodin supports then entire intelligence process described in this blog post. https://www.hoodin.com/event-details/market-and-tech-intelligence-as-a-key-drivers-for-successful-medtech-innovations