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An Improved Product Design

Looking for a better way to do product design, 3M Corporation's Business Development Manager tried Business Insight. Following the development cycle he said, "Business Insight is exactly what I have been looking for to impose a format on our new product planning process."

When defining a new product an enterprise must consider many factors, including what the market wants and the characteristics of that market, the physical and technical characteristics of the product, whether the development organization can create the product and whether the manufacturing organization can produce the product.

Having determined that the enterprise can design and manufacture a product the market will purchase, then consideration must be given to competition, government regulations, distribution channels, marketing & sales and logistics.

A user, a Business Development Manager of 3M Corp, was defining a new product and realized that Business Insight addressed all of these factors. So, in the very early stages of product definition, he answered as many Business Insight questions as he could, which wasn't very many. The resulting analysis was limited, but the process of answering the questions forced him to consider many critical factors he might have otherwise overlooked.

As he gained more information about the product potential he made another pass at answering the questions. This time, Business Insight's analysis of strengths and weaknesses was more beneficial.

First, it pointed out that there were few barriers to entry for competition. This stimulated him to pursue the potential for patents, for exclusive distribution relationships and other methods of establishing proprietary controls.

Second, it showed that the product was quite complex and would require extensive training for sales and support personnel as well as the customer. This generated a search for ways to simplify the product.

Later, with more information and an assumption that the sales strategy would be one of 'differentiation', a third pass at answering the questions was made. To the user's surprise, Business Insight indicated that a differentiation strategy had a low potential for success and that he should pursue a cost leadership strategy. This caused research on ways to improve the differentiation potential as well as ways to reduce production costs if the differentiation approach proved unfeasible.

The analysis also indicated that even with a simplified product a good demonstration would be important. The process of creating the demonstration not only helped the sales process it also made the use of the product simpler for the user.


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