A new study titled A Study of New Product Development in British Columbia – what separates product successes from product failures was published this week by Lyn Blanchard of Creekstone Consulting.
The study was supported by BC's major technology associations - BCIC, BCTIA, ACETECH, DigiBC - and is based on surveys of 34 BC technology companies in ICT, Digital Media & Wireless.
The thrust of the report is that “the key difference between a successful technology product and an unsuccessful one is that a successful product is based on a deep understanding of customer needs and the market demand”. The conclusion seem pretty obvious but BC's tech startups should sit up and take notice.
In the report, Creekstone delivers a powerful BC home-grown reminder of how important this idea really is along with some additional lessons learned aimed at entrepreneurs, established CEOs, product managers, and tech industry stakeholders committed to helping startups. Of over 200 factors evaluated, 14 of the top 20 success drivers in new product development pertained to understanding customers and the market.
But where can BC tech entrepreneurs turn for some advice in this area? Well, firstly, Creekstone’s work was based on the 1975 research of Robert G. Cooper – world renowned product management guru and author of Winning at New Products. Dr. Cooper found that one of the biggest reasons small businesses fail is because they conduct inadequate market research before developing the product. Fast forward 35 years later to today and the message is as important as ever.
Locally, Creekstone has partnered with Angel Forum to deliver a Market Research Workshop for investors and entrepreneurs where key report findings will be discussed along with strategies to improve market research and customer validation.
As entrepreneurs introduce new tech products to market, the vital importance of understanding your customer and your market is an age-old message that warrants repeating time and time again. If you’re building a tech product, bring your target customers into the process early and do everything possible to develop an expert understanding of your market.
And don’t respond with the ‘analysis-paralysis’ shoulder-shrug on this one. Einstein said "everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." In other words, while it’s sound to remain nimble and attack great market opportunities quickly, there’s no easy way around the important homework that needs to be done first.