Archive for January, 2011

Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and R&D

Ever wonder why the R&D function has trouble “sync-ing” with the Marketing department. Marketing should drive most innovation because marketing has the pulse of the consumer and a sense of consumer trends, and R&D can introduce new technologies that can justify some new product development. Just based on differences in timing alone, Marketing historically can develop product concepts faster than R&D can formulate them for commercialization. It isn’t surprising Marketing and R&D often act as separate silos.

In the bigger picture, Marketing and R&D each have responsibilities towards other parts of the whole corporate organization. For example, Marketing, with feedback from the sales force, has to inform the manufacturing function which products to make and R&D needs to formulate the products in a manner that enables the manufacturing function to make the products efficiently. So common responsibilities to other third-parties within the organization should provide them some common ground.

Sharing essential information between R&D and Marketing and understanding respective needs goes far to “de-silo” Marketing and R&D. For example, R&D will understand pricing and profitability,value identification and maximization, and differentiation and positioning, and Marketing will understand regulatory constraints, product quality, and processing and stability issues. This common understanding of separate needs will help provide syncrony between these functions.

Effective coordination is putatively viewed as a key success factor in competitiveness. For successful companies, new product development represents incremental sales of at least 10% or more depending on the product sector.

How come innovation make CEOs uncomfortable

Essentially, it’s fear. Fear of the uncertainty and unknown. What is the pay back, the ROI? Their bosses and shareholders need a defined path to future profits and sales.

Innovation is not an exact science, nor will it ever be. We can assemble the information about the consumer needs, develop and maintain the skill sets required to implement a development program, and manage the efforts according to Gantt charts toward product launch; however, it is the soft stuff, the art, the loss of control when instilling responsibility to others in the organization that truly enables innovation.

Jeffrey Phillips blogs on (January 4, 2011) that the Brownian motion of innovation that makes executive uncomfortable because it is easy to manage and control, requires a belief system, and risk taking that organizations are often willing to support or reward.