Synthesis of Two Sciences


Biometrics is a field that integrates biological science and computer science. One application of this new field of knowledge involves identification procedures. Scientists know that no two persons have the same fingerprint. This makes fingerprints a nearly foolproof method of identification. In the past, an individual’s fingers were coated with ink, and impressions were made on paper, then compared with impressions made by others. Laboratories kept files containing thousands of fingerprints. In time, computers enabled researchers to digitalize fingerprints and reduce them on computer screens. This enabled searches to occur much faster once fingerprints were on the file. Biometrics has now made possible the next step in this evolution of identification science. New scanners enable a person to place his or her finger on an imaging surface and instantaneously receive confirmation that the fingerprint matched that of the owner of an identification card. This technology of identification has been used to speed healthcare identification, eligibility for welfare benefits, and credit-card approvals.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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The Concept Lifecycle


The new products process essentially turns an opportunity (the real start) into a profit flow (the real finish). It begins with something that is not a product (the profit). The product comes from a situation and turns into an end.

What we have, then, is an evolving product, or better, an evolving concept that, at the end, may become a product. There are stages, like individual frames in a movie film:

  • Opportunity concept-a company skill or resource, or customer problem.
  • Idea concept-the first appearance of an idea.
  • Stated concept-a home or technology, plus a clear statement of benefit.
  • Tested concept-it has passed an end user concept test; need is confirmed.
  • Full screened concept-it passes the test of fit with company situation.
  • Protocol concepts-a statement (product definition) of the intended market user.
  • Prototype concept-a tentative physical product or system procedure, including features and benefits.
  • Batch concept-first full test of fit with manufacturing; it can be made. Specifications are written, exactly what the product is to be, including features, characteristics, and standards.
  • Process concept-the full manufacturing process is complete.
  • Pilot concept-a supply of the new product, produced in quantity from a pilot production line, enough for field testing with end users.
  • Marketed concept-output of the scale-up process either for a market test or full scale launch.
  • Successful concept (new product)-it meets the goals set for it at the start of the project.

Some firms have as many as three production models or prototypes. So, the idea that a new product suddenly “emerges” from R&D-like a chicken from an egg-is simply incorrect.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Seedbeds of Managers


Good managers are not born; they are made. An organization acquires managers in three ways: promoting employees from within, hiring managers from other organizations, and hiring managers graduating from universities.

Promoting people within the organization into management positions tends to increase motivation by showing employees that those who work hard and are competent can advance in the company. Internal promotion also provides managers who are already familiar with the company’s goals and problems. Promoting from within , however, can lead to problems: it may limit innovation. The new manager may continue the practices and policies of previous managers. Thus, it is vital for companies—even companies committed to promotion from within—to hire outside people from time to time to bring new ideas into the organizations.

Finding managers with the skills, knowledge and experience required to run an organization or department is sometimes is difficult. Specialized executive employment agencies—sometimes called headhunters, recruiting managers, or executive search firms—can help locate candidates from other companies. The downside is that even though outside people can bring fresh ideas to a company, hiring them may cause resentment among existing employees as well as involve greater expense in relocating an individual to another city.

Schools and universities provide a large pool of potential managers, and entry level applicants can be screened for their developmental potential. People with specialized management skills are specially good candidates. Some companies offer special training programs for potential managers just graduating from college.

When exposed to advertising, the consumer is not merely drawing information from the ad but is actively involved in assigning meaning to the advertised product.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Translating Information into Action


Information must be actionable, if it is to be of value to you. That means it must include a customer profile (most often consisting of demographics and buying behavior—psycho-graphics—that enables you to assign all of your customers to one or another of your defined segments. Unless you’re both ready and able to use the results of all this effort to alter your marketing strategy, your money is probably better spent elsewhere. Segmentation only pays off if you use it to fine tune your marketing program.

If you have computed the lifetime value for each segment, you can now make a very scientific assignment of resources to customer groups. You can be selective in this process. If you choose, focusing on just a few segments—or even one. In fact, that may be a good way to validate your ideas before you institute any large-scale changes in your marketing strategy. The important thing is that you use the information to adapt marketing into a more customer-focused and less product-centered approach.

Often you can finance new marketing initiatives by re-deploying the budgets previously spent in pursuit of unprofitable business, because you can now recognize it for what it is. Screening out can be as important as targeting.

You can then assign an appropriate percentage of your marketing budget to each segment which merits pursuit, echoing the percentage of profits that segment has the potential to generate. Consider members with lower grades within a well-defined, profitable segment as areas of opportunity. You know that companies with a given cluster of needs and buying behaviors can be profitably attracted to your offerings and way of doing business. All that remains is to focus on expanding penetration there.

Put your marketing imagination to work. Because you now understand the priorities of each segment so well, you’ll also know how to determine the most potent messages for each, and the media mix that can best deliver it. In addition, because the economics of each segment are clear, you can develop a plan that matches communications alternatives to allotted budget on a cost-per-contract basis.

As a result, most of your money will be invested where the profit potential for developing loyal customers is the greatest. Whilst this strategy appears to be self-evident, it too seldom happens in real life decision-making, since quantification of potential profitability by market segment is sadly lacking.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Product Development Process


The product development process involves analysis of the marketplace, the buyer, the company’s capabilities, and the economic potential of new product ideas. This process may be both expensive and time consuming. To accelerate the process, many companies create multidisciplinary teams so that manufacturing and marketing plans can be developed in tandem while the product is being designed.

  1. Generation and Screening of Ideas: The first step is to come up with ideas that will satisfy unmet needs. A producer may get new product ideas from its own employees or from external consultants, it may simply adapt a competitor’s idea, or it may buy the rights to someone else’s invention. Customers are often the best source of new product ideas.
  2. Business Analysis: A product idea that survives the screening stage is subjected to a business analysis. At this point the question is: Can the company make enough money on the product to justify the investment? To answer this question, companies forecast the probable sales of the product, assuming various pricing strategies. In addition, they estimate the costs associated with various levels of production. Given these projections, the company calculates the potential cash flow and return on investment that will be achieved if the product is introduced.
  3. Prototype Development: The next step is generally to create and test a few samples, or prototypes, of the product, including its packaging. During this stage, the various elements of the marketing mix are put together. In addition, the company evaluates the feasibility of large-scale production and specifies the resources required to bring the product to market.
  4. Product Testing: During the product testing stage, a small group of consumers actually use the product, often in comparison tests with existing products. If the results are good, the next step is test marketing, introducing the product in selected areas of the country and monitoring consumer reactions. Test marketing makes the most sense in cases where the cost of marketing a product far exceeds the cost of developing it.
  5. Commercialization: The final stage of development is commercialization, the large-scale production and distribution of those products that have survived the testing process. This phase requires the coordination of many activities—manufacturing, packaging, distribution, pricing and promotion. A classic mistake is letting marketing get out of phase with production so that the consumer is primed to buy the product before the company can supply it in adequate quantity. A mistake of this sort can be costly, because competitors may be able to jump in quickly. Many companies roll out their new products generally, going from one geographic area to the next. This enables them to spread the costs of launching the product over a longer period and to refine their strategy as the rollout proceeds.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Musts and Wants


Divide the objectives into two categories: Musts and Wants. The Must objectives are mandatory: they must be achieved to guarantee a successful decision. When the time comes to assess alternatives against our objectives, any alternative that cannot fulfill a MUST objective will immediately drop out of the analysis. These objectives must be measurable because they function as a screen to eliminate failure-prone alternatives. We must be able to say, “This alternative absolutely cannot fulfill this objective; it cannot meet a requirement that is mandatory for success.

All other objectives are categorized as WANTS. The alternatives we generate will be judged on their relative performance against WANT objectives, not on whether or not they fulfill them. The function of these objectives is to give us a comparative picture of alternatives—a sense of how the alternatives perform relative to each other.

A WANT objective may be mandatory but cannot be classified as a MUST for one or two reasons: First, it may not be measurable. It cannot, therefore, give us an absolute Yes or No judgment about the performance of an alternative. Secondly, we may not want a Yes or No judgment. We may prefer to use that objective as a relative measure of performance.

An objective will be stated frequently as a MUST and then be rephrased as a WANT so that it can perform both functions. The MUSTs decide who gets to play, but the WANTs decide who wins.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Developing a Goals System


The process of identifying and structuring the goals system that is emerging from an exploration of strategic issues helps clarify what the strategic direction of the organization will be if no deliberate actions are taken to change it. Through understanding the potential impact of the issues and opportunities facing the organization, steps can be taken to position the organization in such a way as to resolve or capitalize upon these. As such, it provides a valuable benchmark against which to consider the strategic future. Thus, the process involves identifying the goals and understanding how they impact on one another. However, we usually find that a developing understanding of the nature of a goal comes from working on your own material.

Although not being absolutely dependent on the previous activities of issue surfacing, or interviewing using cognitive maps, the goal surfacing activity powerfully extends both the initial activities and takes the strategic thinking process one step further towards realizing a strategic intent and direction. An alternative means of surfacing goals can be achieved through starting with a blank wall (or computer screen if using the computer-supported mode of working). However, this form of the process does not recognize the role of existing problem identification (surfacing the issues) in suggesting real goals of the organization are and can be distracted from, through discussing those that are espoused. Starting with a description of apparent goals can miss the reality of the organization and provides an idealistic view of what the organization can and will achieve.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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