Innovation Challenges: From Technology Breakthroughs to Focus on Customers


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One of the key innovation challenges at many companies, is the transition from being a company that focuses on technology breakthroughs to one that focuses on its customers.

As I was researching the program for the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in San Francisco, May 21-22, I was pleased to see that Jean-Claude Junqua from Panasonic will address this issue at the conference.

He states it like this in the description of his talk:

“For many companies, there is often a huge difference between what’s in their business plans and the market’s expectations for growth. This growth gap comes from the fact that companies are still pouring money into what made their success in the past, namely developing technology breakthrough in their R&D labs, instead of working to understand what the customer wants and then using that understanding to drive innovation.

In this talk we will look at the different ways to innovate, especially in large companies, and describe new customer-centric approaches which enable companies to innovate and maximize return on investment while coping with the ever accelerating time to market.”

Since it will not be possible for all of you to listen to Junqua’s talk, I did some research on the topic and I found two interesting links that I would like to share with you.

The first one is a page on the Panasonic website, where you can find surprisingly detailed information on how they work with a “customer centric policy” which includes some nice graphic images of their processes.

In particular, I like how they have an iterative process based on five steps: Understand Usage Condition – Understand Usage Demand – Idea Planning – Verification – Commercialisation.

The other resource that I would like to point you to is a blog post by Curtis Bingham, in which he shares some interesting perspectives on the roles of CCO’s – chief customer officers in the context of innovation.

Among other things, Bingham shares these five ways to focus innovation on customers:

1. Take ownership of Innovation at the highest level

2. Identify the “North Star” that focuses innovation on real customer needs and inspires employees

3. Form powerful alliances with both early and late-stage internal innovators

4. Create conduits to customers to enhance innovation efforts

5. Inject the customer into the innovation processes, including the innovation reviews, stage gates, and funding decisions

This is an interesting topic and I hope you found some inspiration in the above examples.

If you should get a chance to visit the Chief Innovation Officer Summit and listen to the talk by Junqua, then you should now that you can get a USD 200 discount if you register with INNO20.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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