AITM Seminars >> 3rd Public Seminar: “Role of Technology in Product Innovations” by Prof. Dr. Sajik K.B. Nair

 

AITM organized its 3rd Public Seminar on “Role of Technology in Product Innovations” on 28 March 2013 in its lecture theatre in AITM Building. Prof. Dr. Saji K B (Nair), a distinguished Professor of Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, and our AITM visiting faculty for Marketing Management for our MBA program, delivered the seminar on this important topic. Prof. Dr. Sriram Bhagut Mathe, Chairperson of AITM welcomed all the guests, including some very senior distinguished personalities. Prof. Emeritus Dr. Ram Manohar Shrestha chaired the session.

The notion of ‘product innovation’ (PI) may ideally be described as the exploitation or commercialization of an invention. The extant literature on product management defines PI as the development of new products, changes in the design of established products, or the use of new materials or components in the manufacture of established products. The most comprehensive understanding of PI has been facilitated in 1982 by Booz, Allen, and Hamilton through their popular book titled ‘New Product Management for the 1980s’. Their solid contribution classifies the types of PI in six different categories, viz. (i) New-to-the world, (ii) New to the market, (iii) New to the company, (iv) Minor value addition, (v) Cost reduction, and (vi) Performance improvement. Technology does play an extremely important role in realizing either of these PIs. In the context of PI, the patented intention is widely referred to as ‘invention’ by marketing practitioners. During the presentation, Prof. Nair highlighted the role of technology in facilitating PI in a given product management context of a firm.

Title: Role of Technology in Product Innovations
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Sajik KB Nair, Visiting Prof. – AITM; Professor  of Marketing and Technology Strategy – IIM, Lucknow
Date: March 28, 2013

While the ‘New-to-the world PI’ refers to an innovation that is totally new to the world, the ‘New to the market PI’ refers to an innovation that is new to a specific geographic market. As the label rightly indicates, the ‘New to the company PI’ refers to the innovation that is new to the given business of a firm. The ‘Minor value addition PI’ refers to that innovation that would lead to a minor value addition to the existing product in terms of shape, size, colour, etc. The ‘Cost reduction PI’ at a given performance level refers to an innovation that leads to the development of a new product with a reduced cost structure. The last category, the ‘Performance improvement PI’ refers to an innovation at a given cost structure, which leads to the development of a new product with an enhanced level of performance.

The best way with which one can decipher the role of technology in PI is by closely following the Stage Gate System of NPD as devised by Robert G. Cooper in 1980s. A network theory variant in the new product development context, the Stage Gate System could well explain the role of technology in PI. It is the Gates 1 & 2 in the Stage Gate System that, to a great extent, controls the effect of technology in PI. Prof. Nair emphasized the importance of these Gates in managing the technology risks associated with the various technology problems in the PI process. He also highlighted a number of product management perspectives that demands the careful attention of entrepreneurs and business managers of modern firms. The learning perspectives include: (i) the strategic need to well define the product goals prior to Gate-zero; (ii) the need to manage technology selection in Gate-one; (iii) the need to make the technologies ready for prototype design prior to passing Gate-two; (iv) the need to manage the R&D decision process effectively; (v) the need to manage the technology transfer process so as to gain maximum from the limited window of opportunity available to the firm; and (vi) the need to have the technological complexity metrics to manage the risks associated with the PI process.