Product Development

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How Tech CEOs Are Redefining the Top Job

About a quarter of high-tech companies are run by CEOs who double as inventors. Through patenting and publishing activity, such leaders contribute their own expertise to their companies’ innovation and production efforts, even as they steer their respective ships. This hands-on approach may sound like a distraction from strategic thinking, but it’s the future for top leaders across many sectors, not just tech — and it is already upon us.

Partner With Entrepreneurs Inside and Out

  • Read Time: 7 min 

Companies seeking to drive innovation in the face of constant disruption benefit from adopting a strategy that supports both internal entrepreneurs and external partnerships rather than taking an either/or approach. The benefits: reduced development costs, faster time to market, and a collaborative, engaged workforce.

Sponsor's Content | The New Era of Personalization: Why CPG Brands Must Own the Direct-to-Consumer Experience

  • MIT SMR Connections | Executive Scholar Exchange

As consumers gain more choices in how they buy products and interact with brands, consumer packaged goods companies can no longer rely on retailers for sales customer feedback. Instead, brands must take a direct-to-consumer approach across the life span of the customer relationship.

How a Group of NASA Renegades Transformed Mission Control

  • Read Time: 8 min 

NASA’s Pirates were rebel innovators who created an award-winning mission control system for the shuttle program in record time, on a shoestring budget, and in the face of political resistance. Such renegades are committed to elevating business capabilities and future proofing them for novel challenges, often despite opposition from the status quo. Organizations that want to be ambidextrous need to create a climate that fosters such renegades and nurtures them when they appear.

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The Promise of Targeted Innovation

The biggest consumer goods companies shell out more than $1 billion a year for R&D but lately have seen no appreciable impact on their sales. That’s troubling for companies whose growth has leveled off in recent years. In contrast, some smaller competitors that spend less on R&D — but do so more shrewdly — have seen a significant boost in sales.

We Must Rescue ‘Win-Win’ From Its Buzzword Status

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Companies tend to compete not as individual entities, but as members of networks — which makes collaboration a strategic necessity, not merely a tactical choice. But while many executives say they want win-win solutions, in reality, they usually seek victories that don’t excessively annoy their counterparts. In other words, “win/no-lose” is a more accurate description.

The Case Against Agility

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Leaders today must wean their companies away from three pieces of conventional wisdom about digital strategy: agility, first-mover advantage, and minimum viable product. These ideas have anchored technological decision-making for over a decade but are highly unsuitable for the emerging world. In conditions of environmental uncertainty and interconnected technology, we need more thoughtfulness rather than more speed.

Harnessing the Secret Structure of Innovation

Innovation, much like marketing and human resources, can be made less reliant on artful intuition by using information in new ways. But this requires a change in perspective: We need to view innovation not as the product of luck or extraordinary vision but as the result of a deliberate search process.

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The Customer-Inventor Revolution

  • Read Time: 3 min 

For over 30 years, MIT Sloan’s Eric von Hippel has investigated the ways general users of products and services have improved them through tinkering and invention. “The Age of the Consumer-Innovator,” which he co-authored for MIT Sloan Management Review in 2011, was an important marker in explaining how user communities were changing product development. It laid the groundwork for von Hippel’s current research, which looks at the way some of today’s innovation is given away as a “free good.”

IoT and Developing Analytics-Based Data Products

Coauthors Thomas H. Davenport and Stephan Kudyba discuss the many ways for organizations to monetize data, including selling “data products” directly to consumers. A seven-step model shows the way real-life companies are developing those products and services.

Free Webinar, Dec. 1: IoT and Developing Analytics-Based Data Products

On Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. EST, join MIT SMR coauthors Thomas H. Davenport and Stephan Kudyba in a free, live webinar, where they will discuss their recent article, “Designing and Developing Analytics-Based Data Products.” The authors will look at the ways in which the internet of things, market forces, and evolving technology are changing how companies plan the development of data products. This new product category requires a reworking of the traditional phases of product development.

Designing and Developing Analytics-Based Data Products

The combination of new analytical capabilities and burgeoning data assets are being used to form value-added “data products.” Such products have powered rapid growth in the value and success of online companies, but the expansion of analytics means the standard model for developing these products needs to evolve. An updated model needs to reflect new “time to market” expectations and input from a variety of stakeholders.

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Navigating the Patent Minefield Through Consortia

Bringing high-tech inventions built on patented technologies to market can be complicated and risky. The threat of added costs from patent infringement lawsuits has led technology companies to pool their talents — and patents — in technology consortia. Joining a tech consortium requires managers to weigh intellectual property value against the value of future collaborations and assess the consortium’s pros and cons for innovation, competition, and market creation.

Getting Product Development Right

The Spring 2016 issue of MIT Sloan Management features a Special Report on new product development. Articles include “Why Great New Products Fail,” “Finding the Right Role for Social Media in Innovation,” “Developing New Products in Emerging Markets,” “Why Learning is Central to Sustained Innovation,” and a look at the opportunities presented by the Internet of Things, in “Now That Your Products Can Talk, What Will They Tell You?”

Why Great New Products Fail

Many innovative new products don’t succeed. One common reason: Companies don’t focus on understanding how customers make purchase decisions. But paying attention to how customers search for information about what to buy, and how they make guesses about details they can’t easily find, helps predict whether customers will embrace certain product innovations. Companies need to focus on innovations that customers will easily recognize or find ways to alert them to innovations they may not detect on their own.

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