Designing Breakthrough Products

Comments Off on Designing Breakthrough Products
Designing Breakthrough Products LoadingADD TO FAVORITES
When exposed to new technologies, most companies focus on a narrow innovation strategy:  technology substitution.  They ask, “Can we substitute this for an old technology to better address customers’ existing needs?” But if they want to create breakthrough products, they should ask, “How can this technology be used to address needs that customers may not realize they have and give customers a completely new reason to buy a product?” Well-known examples of companies that did the latter include Nintendo, Apple, and Swatch.  All three have used technology to radically change the meaning of offerings in a category — why customers buy, or how they use a product.
  • Nintendo’s application of MEMS accelerometers transformed the experience of playing with game consoles from passive immersion in a virtual world into active physical entertainment.
  • Apple’s creation of the iPod and the iTunes Store made it easier for people to discover and buy new music and organize it into personal playlists.
  • Swatch used inexpensive quartz technology to change watches from timekeeping tools into affordable fashion accessories.
Roberto Verganti, a professor of the management of innovation at Politecnico di Milano, calls the strategies that led to these products technology epiphanies.  An epiphany is commonly thought of as a sudden revelation that comes to a lone creative genius in an intuitive fashion. As the author points out in his October 2011 Harvard Business Review article, “Designing Breakthrough Products,” technology epiphanies do not have to be the result of rare eureka moments; they can be systematically produced by either the suppliers of new technologies or the companies that incorporate them into their offerings. For example, Philips Electronics used this approach to develop Ambient Experience for Healthcare, or AEH, a breakthrough application for reducing the anxiety that patients experience when they undergo medical scans with CT and MRI machines. Since the introduction of CT, in the early 1970s, and MRI, in the early 1980s, innovation in the imaging industry has focused mainly on technology substitutions:  more-sophisticated devices that can capture more data in less...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Business Briefings subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $135/year

  • Get 12 months of Business Briefings that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Business Briefings Research Library
  • Optional Business Briefings monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% pro-rata refund