As the CEO of a High Tech company, perhaps you’re concerned with hyper-segmentation and creeping incrementalism in the market. We live in a world where some companies herald the roll out of a new telecommunications device or the next version of software with great fanfare. These are frequently regarded as remarkable accomplishments, representing huge growth potential.

Maybe not so much… various studies identify the failure rate of new products as between 70% and 95%, depending on industry, timing, and success definition. If the stats are that dismal, where will your next new product come from?

innovation definition

Of the 30+ definitions that came up on page one of the Google search for “Innovation”, I chose the above because it was simple, and spoke to a process. It’s the demarcation of a process, driven by the cultivation of knowledge that I’d like to talk about today.

Success or failure of any product idea ultimately rests with the consumer. It doesn’t matter if you work in the B2C space, where you have the potential to directly influence the consumer through branding and promotion, or in a B2B environment, where your route to market may be through an OEM, or a systems integrator. In either case, the end user will ultimately determine the acceptance of the product idea based on a range of parameters.

There are a number of stages to new product development, including idea generation and screening, concept development, technical implementation, and commercialization. Incorporating research into the development cycle increases success rates. Research can take a variety of forms, including partnering with your customer base to get closer to the end user. Here you can leverage your sales team’s relationships to get valuable customer input for the marketing and new product team.

The term Consumer Centric Innovation identifies a process that begins with consumer insights and understanding of needs and wants, with the objective of building a new product to provide recognized and genuine benefit to the end user. Moreover, if you have strong relationships with channel partners, sharing your direction can more quickly validate your consumer centric new concept and provide early customer support.

While many organizations have used research for years to identify and test their product concepts, what’s evolving is the opportunity for open innovation as it relates to new product development. This and various elements of crowdsourcing, suggest that information can be efficiently collected from a network of qualified consumers.

Some organizations have really led the way on open innovation…

Dell launched IdeaStorm to give a direct voice to consumers, and as a way to have online “brainstorm” sessions to share ideas. For example, Dell may post a specific topic and ask customers to submit ideas.

Fiat asked the world for input for its concept vehicle, the Fiat Mio. It debuted at the Sao Paulo International Auto Show with a design that took into account more than 10,000 ideas from people in 160 countries.

The bottom line is that consumer (and customer) insight will increase your chances of developing innovative new products. There are a variety of research tools that can be employed, including leveraging your sales organization to get customer input, and techniques to engage on your website or through social media.

As you work through your new product agenda, you may want to think about the questions posed in this short survey.