Managing a diverse portfolio
A large healthcare multinational had recently acquired a number of smaller companies based in various countries. Each one had its own product portfolios, roadmaps, innovation processes and ways of working. We helped the customer choose and deploy the necessary tools to improve transparency and strategically align innovation throughout its whole organization. We then analyzed the ‘innovation overview’ for each new acquisition. This allowed us to locate overlaps to reduce costs and identify blind spots that offered new business opportunities.
The end result was a clear overview of a development portfolio worth over € 200 million.
Developing a strategic architecture
A vacuum cleaner manufacturer wanted to create two new product ranges: one high-end and one mid-range. By analyzing consumer demands, market trends and the customer’s supply chain, we jointly developed a smart architecture that met the needs of both ranges. The architecture had a high level of commonality in components, technical design and interfaces, while allowing plenty of commercial and styling variation. This enabled the customer to reduce costs and still differentiate the ranges in consumers’ minds.
The customer used the same platform to develop a third, bagless range within the same initial budget.
Long-term technology roadmapping
Following initial successes, an office equipment manufacturer was looking for ways to maintain a continuous flow of innovations and upgrades. We worked with the customer to define a long-term strategic roadmap. Using a ‘learning by doing’ approach, we assisted in improving transparency and manageability in the company’s core technology program for various product lines. And we ensured that this tailored roadmapping process was transferred to the customer’s organization.
The company now has roadmaps for two core technology areas, aligned with its business and innovation drivers, and linked to its product and platform roadmaps.
Understanding a new market
Before launching a new web service, a start-up in the wellness industry asked us to help analyze the existing market landscape and test its own strategy. We arranged an Innovation Game – a strategic role-playing game focusing on a pre-defined business arena. The Innovation Game gave the customer a much greater insight into its competitors’ products and what made its own service stand out from the crowd. And by exploring various scenarios, the customer could test the robustness of its product strategy and identify exciting features for future generations.
The customer gained a clear view of the market / business forces on its product before launch.
Navigating an IP minefield
When a manufacturer in the personal care sector realized a key product was protected by interlinking patents belonging to a competitor, it approached us to find ways to avoid infringing those patents. Working with patent attorneys, we analyzed the existing patents and targeted creative techniques that would circumvent them. A multidisciplinary team including patent attorneys, the customer’s engineers and our own specialists followed a structured way of working to create a list of concepts covering short- and long-term opportunities.
Consequently, the customer brought a new product to market within a year with no IP issues.
Easy healthcare monitoring
A leading healthcare supplier wanted a user interface that would ensure its at-home monitoring system for the elderly was easy to install and use. We created a Voice of the Customer tree and Critical To Quality (CTQ) parameters, and translated them into a number of product concepts. Using consumer insights, we helped the customer generate a final concept and then build and evaluate a prototype using proven usability design rules and high-contrast consumer tests.
In final testing, every single elderly patient could successfully install the system.
Creating one from many
A global company had recently acquired a number of new businesses. To create a single, efficient organization, we reviewed all relevant processes then guided the customer through a smooth change program that we had devised.
This included redesigning, introducing and rolling out a harmonized business process for the entire organization.
Predictable software development
One of our customers wanted a predictable and controlled process for executing software development projects. We helped them adapt SEI’s Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM) to suit their needs, providing support throughout the planning and implementation of the improvement program. Together, we created a new software process that has been objectively assessed as meeting CMM L3 requirements and forms the basis for continuous improvement.
This reduced development effort and software defects, and cut schedule slip to below 10%.
Managing product data across business groups
Our colleagues in End-User Driven Innovation were working with a global company on products that integrate components from several business groups. To streamline this collaboration, they asked us to create a company-wide vision for managing product data across business groups. We set up a project team, consisting of people from the various business groups and the customer’s central IT department, to analyze existing practices and solutions.
Through our knowledge and experience of commercial product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, the vision was developed and accepted by management.
Faster product development
For the best results in fast-moving product sectors like flat-panels TVs, all key players in the value chain need to align their development processes. We recently helped one TV set maker and LCD panel manufacturer ensure their product creation processes (PCPs) were fully aligned. In doing so, we redesigned, streamlined and shortened the TV set maker’s PCP.
Development throughput time was reduced from 9 to 6 months.
A successful new product type
A consumer electronics company was developing an innovative wireless music center. This was a brand new product type that needed to be launched right first time. First, we helped define what ‘ease of use’ means in this unexplored area of technology. Next, we identified potential roadblocks and provided solutions, which were then verified through smart consumer tests. At each stage, our smart field-return prediction methods helped the customer make the right design choices to ensure the product was reliable and easy to use.
An entirely new product type achieved a low, accurately-predicted initial field return rate.
A clean shave
When a customer in the health and beauty sector was developing a new shaver, they asked us to help create a user-centered design process that would ensure satisfied customers. Over the course of seven months, we analyzed customer feedback on previous models to identify strengths and weaknesses, and used these insights to improve the new products. We then used smart testing methods to improve product robustness, and created a quick start guide to enhance the consumer’s ‘out-of-the-box’ experience.
Now on the market, the shaver has a return rate 50% lower than comparable shavers.