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Last week, Ultimate Software, a provider of HR solutions, was named by Fortune as the #25 of the 100 best companies to work for in 2012. We’d like to take a minute to congratulate one of our longtime customers for a job well done.
But, gosh, what if it is? And what if this Fortune 500 phone company whose name we can't mention was so happy that we solved their Complex, with a capital "C", product planning issues that they made this little sticker themselves? Maybe they wanted to proudly show off the people who let them go home early because they have software that doesn't require them to run around collecting data for their stressed out bosses.
The bank I use for my personal finances loves to get customer feedback – or so you would think. Every few months, they call me, presumably along with their other retail customers, to ask what I think about the bank's services and products and what improvements I'd like to see.
So for the past three years, I've told them the same four things that I believe would offer meaningful improvements for customers as well as for the bank – some improvements which are already in place at their local competitors. At the end of each conversation they thank me and tell me what great ideas I had. And then nothing happens.
I used to be flattered by their interest in my thoughts. Early on, I believed it was meant sincerely. But now it's become something of a nuisance. My suggestions never seem to find a path into the bank's labyrinth of decision making.
An Accept customer, David Wagner from Solution Labs, was recently kind enough to share his experiences in innovation in a webinar and press release as well as a guest blog here today on The Innovation Jam. Solution Labs delivers analysis and reporting solutions that enable organizations to make intelligent forward-looking decisions on capacity planning and performance of IT. They’ve been able to triple revenues, boost productivity 25 percent and beat out much larger competitors.
In a recent post Hari referred to innovation as a sort of ubiquitous religion in the high-tech field. Like religion, there’s hundreds if not thousands of different variations and each individual company or person finds their own way.
So let me start out by saying I’m not here to push our methodology for innovation on others.
Our company is exclusively focused on capacity management, but we compete against much larger companies – some are even more than 100 times our size. So for smaller companies like us, it’s a story of David & Goliath, except we’re competing against a dozen giants that are up to 100 stories tall. We have only two advantages: we are highly focused in a way our competitors are not. And the other is that we are far more nimble and adaptive to our customers, and the markets, evolving requirements.
If there's one specific phase of the innovation lifecycle that will ensure failure if it's not done correctly, it is understanding market needs. Without that context, you might develop an innovative product yet not be commercially successful. And no one in this new innovation economy can afford a 'miss'.
As we continue our poll series to understand the priorities and challenges that product executives face, I wanted to share the results from the third poll. Like our first two polls, this poll was also focused on the ideation phase and the challenges faced. There were again over 200 responses representing a solid cross-section of product management, sales, marketing and development roles across all types of industries and geographies.
The question was: What is your biggest challenge in the capture and management of product ideas
There is a simple reason why we must change the way we innovate: Survival.
The Great Recession has spawned competition from some unexpected places. Countries that were never considered as sources of innovation are now uncovering new markets and creating solutions to real business problems. Technology is not only making the world flatter, it is making it smaller and more responsive.
Business downturns are happening more frequently and causing more disruption, including jobless recoveries. With this compression of the business cycle comes shorter product lifecycles and the imperative to make the entire product planning and development process more agile.
Finally, the silo approach to innovation that is so prevalent today is not conducive to making customer-oriented products. Companies need to make transparency and open communication their number one focus, both internally and externally.
Only when data are shared, decision criteria are understood, and finger pointing is eliminated can companies build products that customers truly need and build them quickly.
DMNews originally posted my commentary on the iPhone 4 issues in the July 26th issue. They were kind enough to let us repost our comments here to share with our readers.
Ever since the antenna problems in the iPhone 4 were first uncovered, there’s been a plethora of experts and consumers insisting Apple is making mistakes that will cause long-lasting damage to the brand.
One mistake they made was briefly mentioned by Steve Jobs at the company’s press conference: the break in the external antenna that forms the casing clearly indicates where to put your finger to drop a call. What could have been a product feature to help users from interrupting the signal strength was unexplained and misunderstood by the public.
We announced today that we have outstanding customers who continue to support us...
You can't help but want to turn off the radio or TV with the daily reports of declining profits, layoffs & economic crisis's around the world, and company acquisitions.
I’m on an airplane, and as I listen to my iPod I’m looking at my seatmate’s MacBook Air. These products show what an innovative company can do when it listens to a market demanding not just new editions of existing products, but new products altogether.