Product Design

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Stories That Deliver Business Insights

Companies are gaining value from ethnography, the in-person study of how people actually use a product or service. Through its attention to the details of people’s lives, ethnography can be a powerful tool to help executives gain insights into their markets. Ethnographic stories can also be indispensable in helping executives rethink their assumptions about what customers care about and about overall strategic direction.

Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

Innovation Lessons From 3-D Printing

3-D printing is the printing of solid, physical 3-D objects. “Just as the Web democratized innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies…is democratizing innovation in atoms,” Wired magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, stated in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. Indeed, open-source 3-D printing fits in with the general trend of open-source innovation by collaborative online communities. The big question: How should existing companies respond?

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How to Profit From a Better Virtual Customer Environment

The benefits of engaging customers in product development, product support and related activities are increasingly visible. Having the right technology-based system can enhance the customer experience and help companies improve both their innovation and customer relationship management capabilities.

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The New Practice of Global Product Development

Many manufacturers have established product development activities in different countries around the world. Yet their senior managers often struggle to tie those decentralized organizations into a cohesive, unified operation that can efficiently drive growth and innovation. New empirical frameworks may help unlock practices with which managers can deploy well-coordinated global product development strategies.

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Back to the Future: Benetton Transforms Its Global Network

During the 1980s, Benetton was known as the archetypal network organization. But it decided to take a new direction representing a major discontinuity with its past and a divergence from industry practices. Without giving up the strongest aspects of its networked model, it integrated and centralized, exerting greater control over its supply chain even as it diversified its operations and product lines. The authors offer a detailed case study of this dramatic transformation.

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