Innovate or die. This may sound like a particularly harsh term but when you look at Toys ”R” Us as an example, it rings all too real. They just recently had to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy and are in real danger ofcompletely disappearing from the retail landscape. When you don’t change and adapt, the world passes you by.
You might be asking yourself the question, “Why is this even relevant to me as a manufacturer?” Here’s the simple bottom line of the matter: Innovation separates successes from catastrophic failures.
Still using Toys ”R” Us as the example of what not to do... Back in 2000 the giant niche retailer signed a 10-year deal with Amazon to become an exclusive vendor. Toys ”R” Usdidn’t fully believe in e-commerce or in-store experiences and ultimately signed away their future. Amazon is the leading edge in innovation, on the opposite side of the Toys ”R” Us spectrum of success. And we all know how Amazon has been taking over the world.
Innovation remains one of the vital keys to successful growth. Manufacturers must consistently differentiate themselves, their products and services in order to seek out new customers both domestically and abroad.
Sure, that sounds easy.
Nope, not at all! This is one of the most difficult areas to improve upon and even more difficult to know where to even begin. Using tools like Technology Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI), Lean Product Development, Market/Industry Research, Marketing Planning, and Technology Scouting can all provide you with formula to differentiate your company, product and services from your competition.
Let’s look at these tools separately and in a little more depth.
- TDMI is a systematic approach that can help you understand if your product, product idea, or product capability will provide technology based benefits to sell in various markets.TDMI helps you understand whether investing resources in a product idea or market diversification opportunity is worthwhile, which markets and applications are most promising and what steps to take to exploit market opportunities.
- Lean Product Development can assist you in the development of a process for product development. Implementing a process can help you reduce your time to market and reduce start up and manufacturing costs. In addition, the training will equip your employees with tools that will help you more effectively manage the project and create cooperation and teamwork between departments.
- Market and Industry Research within itself incorporates industry analysis, competitive intelligence, customer research, new market analysis, and data analysis. Market and industry research is imperative to decision support related to growth strategies, product development, and pricing and distribution strategies. Market research is often overlooked or incomplete, sometimes due to lack of resources or internal expertise.
- Marketing Planning is a formal blueprint based on market and industry research that creates a roadmap to optimizethe success of marketing and sales investments. A successful marketing plan includes an identification of internal champions, timelines and measurements for success.
- Technology Scouting provides a systematic and comprehensive approach to finding existing technology solutions for unmet company needs. The goal of Technology Scouting is to provide a far-reaching perspective of possible solutions—unknown or unconsidered—to solve the problem. Tech scouts identify solutions in industries outside the Client’s normal view—bringing a broader perspective, additional resources, new fields, and unexpected solutions.
With so many resources and tools at your fingertips there’s no excuse to watch the world go by. There are ultimately two decisions to make: You can either be a forward thinking company like Amazon or continue to rest on your laurels like Toys ”R” Us. Don’t grow up to be a Toys ”R” Us company.