Innovating at the Pace of Changing Customer Expectations

Feb 11, 2013 10:15am
Posted by: Frank Capek

Customers’ expectations are changing faster than your organization’s ability to innovate.  While this assertion may not qualify as a universal truth, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find organizations that are confident they’re ahead of the customer curve.

For example, the integration of smart phones, search and social media has made transparency a prerequisite and impatience a virtue. In the “always on” world, customers now expect to instantly access relevant and personalized information from anywhere, comment on their experience and get an immediate response (they’re assuming you’re watching and listening, always). This has led to unprecedented levels of empowerment and organizational change that are changing the game for traditional competitors across industries.

Most mature organizations can’t get out of their own way to keep up with market changes, much less keep ahead. If customer expectations evolve in 3-month cycles; any organization that responds to those expectations with an 18- to 24-month innovation cycle is going to frustrate customers and become increasingly irrelevant.  

In order to get in front of the pace of change, leading companies are embracing a more intentionally iterative, experimentation approach to market sensing, concept development and learning. Failing quickly through well-defined experiments help companies learn faster and avoid large, costly mistakes at full launch. As a result, experimentation improves the quality, quantity and velocity of product, service and process innovation. 

Experimentation is at the heart of any company’s ability to innovate.  Virtually all innovative products or services start as an idea and are shaped into reality through experimentation.  Major technological innovations may involve thousands of experiments that test whether the new solution is both technically feasible and addresses market demand.  

Experimentation enables organizations to gather and exploit insight about successes and possibilities, to reduce cycle time, and to involve customers in the design process. It helps remove some of the uncertainty associated with addressing complex, multi-variable, and changing problems. Whether a company is designing consumer products or launching new services, experimentation is a key to speed and success in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, as organizations mature, they often lose the ability to experiment. This is influenced by several factors including a focus on maintaining production, ensuring short-term performance, career paths that emphasize predictability, and a diversification of roles and resources with few intimate connections to customers. 

This white paper highlights a few of the things we've learned about how to build the structure, capabilities and culture supporting effective experimentation.  

Check it out:  CI - The Experimentation Imperative 2013

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