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Innovation is life blood in any of the organization, innovation or new product or service development play vital role in the overall success of the firms and helping them in gaining competitive advantages over their competitors that ensure them to be sustainable with the business environment. Over the period of time, market dynamic have changed with a quicker pace due to various reasons that include strong community network, world has become a global villages, similar but quickly changeable customers needs and desires, a huge number of perceived similar products, global recession, change in the fuel prices, failure rate of new product introduced and different segments amongst the consumers as well.
The time has change when organization had monopoly with their brands and using brands were the symbol of status for consumers, choice of products were dominantly transferred genetically, selection of products were dominated with emotions and consumers used to own the products. The product life cycle has become short, un- differentiated, markets are getting saturated. Organizations in various industries are in the cycle of bringing product on top of their own products, products launched have very short time to get established and convert into brands.
Organizations now are more centric towards its consumers; they are struggling hard in attracting new customers, retaining them and making them loyal with their organizations and product they use. Customer relationship management is taking lead in organizations.
Innovation which is the key in meeting and satisfying the expectation of its customers is a continuous process for many of the organization but organizations now are more focus on incremental innovation rather than radical innovation. Organization are now more focus in understanding the need and expectation of its customers and ensure its customers are represented in the process of new product development or process of innovation. Organizations apparently try to incorporate the preferences of their customers in their future products.
This report present a critical review on the published work "Demand on Innovation: How Customer Preferences Shape the innovation process" based on Nesta publication. Review in this report of the publication is based on commenting:
The appropriateness of the methodology to the problems or research questions
The extent to which outcomes reflect the evidence and its relevance to the problems, issue or questions identified at the start.
The extent to which the evidence justifies conclusions and recommendation and its related ethical issues
OBJECTIVES OF NESTA REPORT
The objective of research as published by Nesta was based on to explore "how consumer needs and preferences influence innovation" in organizations' ability and willingness to innovate with the focused on following research questions
When in an innovation cycle information about consumer preferences and needs is gathered or received.
How the information is subsequently used.
The part the information plays within the innovation process.
RESEARCH METHOD USED
To undertake the research in order to achieve set objective and gain answers of the questions, researchers used qualitative method of research focusing five different organizations that have the hidden innovation in them. The organization that researcher selected was a mixture of services organization as well as goods organization.
From the selective organizations, researchers exploration of research questions were derived from interviewing two types of staff; firstly the senior members of the organizations having the tenure within the organization from 5-10 years, and secondly the members that are involve and responsible for bringing innovation within the organization.
The exploration was based on conduction of 5-10 interviews per organization with a good length of time so that things are not left un- answered, with the questions used semi structure.
REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH
On The Appropriateness of the Methodology to the Problems or Research Questions
As discussed in qualitative research method: A data collector's field guide (n.d.), "One advantage of qualitative methods in exploratory research is that use of open-ended questions and probing gives participants the opportunity to respond in their own words, rather than forcing them to choose from fixed responses, as quantitative methods do. Open-ended questions have the ability to evoke responses that are:
â€¢ Meaningful and culturally salient to the participant
â€¢ Unanticipated by the researcher
â€¢ Rich and explanatory in nature
Another advantage of qualitative methods is that they allow the researcher the flexibility to probe initial participant responses - that is, to ask why or how. The researcher must listen carefully to what participants say, engage with them according to their individual personalities and styles, and use "probes" to encourage them to elaborate on their answers".
Researcher used qualitative research that was supported by a number of hypotheses concerning the pre set objective and research questions. It deduce s many of its basic concept of innovation like the type of innovation happening with the selected organizations from the perspective of customer preferences and influences on the organization ability and willingness to innovative. Here attention was focused upon looking at the subject through the eyes of individual that are involved in the process only and the big portion that are customers are missing from the qualitative method of approach. So, qualitative research connected with organization perspective only considering to their beliefs and understanding. Initially, it was a need to the research process to have involvement of both the customers as well as the organizations so that the findings of the research could have been more fruitful for both the readers, organizations' and to the policy makers within the organizations' since qualitative research comprises to set stress on to describe, understand the complex phenomena. This explores, for example, the relations and its pattern between factors or the context in which the activities are happening. It also concentrates on knowing the complete picture of the topic from multiple dimensions.
Additionally, from my perspective, there was a need to use the quantitative research along with qualitative approach so that a clear perspective from across the board within the organizations' could be obtained. This could have helped researcher in validating or complement the findings from the qualitative findings of the specific organizations from various level of employees, a wider perspective. This could have the findings more authentic and validated due to bigger sample size. Since for instance, researcher took five different industries such as a financial organization, Professional services organizations, construction organization, creative architect and a retail organization. These organizations do not have any similarities amongst them and they differ from each other perhaps from 180 degrees except in case of Construction Company and an architecture company and obviously the type of innovation, profile of customers, need and expectation of customers vary.
For instance industry, researcher took one organization that is Taylor Woodrow and conducting interviews from 5-10 individual may not be a worthy representation of the construction organization, especially when the consumers and customers are also missing from the picture, in construction industry majority of customers are now seek the fulfillment of their explicit needs since implicit needs are compulsory and in majority of cases consumers are also not engaged with the construction organization directly due to involvement of middle man as a contractor. The customers needs in the retail organization are totally different especially if we consider ASDA that is perceived to be low cost retail chain where things are further cheap if buy in bulk and talking about innovation perhaps from only organizational perspective seem to be biased and un complete and 10 interview at ASDA would be a reflection of retail industry especially when TESCO lead the retail industry with a sizeable sales of Marks and Spencer's that has the entirely different clientele of customers. Moreover the concept of innovation explored within ASADA is explained as radical where as ASDA in any area of its business has not been radical in nature, yes of course due to its short life in the retail industry every thing they are doing to be flourished are new to them that include service, product, marketing but they are not new to the world.
There may be a gap identified in understanding the innovation and that may be due to organizations long term and short term objectives, A more emphasis was required in selecting the organizations so that at least the concept of innovation could have been established within the organization and every organizations' information would have been based on true incremental, radical, architectural, disruptive etc.
From my point of view, the research had also to be industry focus so that the research findings would give the apple to apple perspective of innovation and influence of related customers within the organization per industry.
Qualitative method no doubt is helpful not just in obtaining the rich explanation of the phenomena but also in creating and evolving concepts and their bases. Beside, value of the qualitative research comprises in to validate the knowledge gain since individual are done an in-depth interviews so that the knowledge gathered are correct and making the report authentic on the basis of interviewee experience and opinions. However, this approach only reflects the small sample size which is not the true representation of the findings.
The importance of sample size is not arguable since its represents the number of observations taken to conduct a statistical analysis. It is from my point of view important to have a random sample size to collect the data even from both organization and customers' perspective so that the information gathered in the research is not biased. There was a need to have more individuals since the sample size increase means the estimation is more accurate, for instance if we randomly select 10 teenager boys, we might find their average height to be 5 feet 2 inches tall, perhaps within the group there is one boy that is a basket ball player and having the height more than others has inflated the estimate. If, however, we measure two thousand teenager boys, we would have a better predictor of mean height of teenagers because the extremes would be balanced out and the exact average would overshadow any difference from the mean.
Extent to which outcomes reflect the evidence and its relevance to the problems, issue or questions
From my review and understanding, it seems the answers set to achieve the objectives are not properly answered and findings /Conclusion seem to be away from the objective of the research. However, researchers has successfully identified the and drafted the framework of customers' understanding and their needs and preferences are fed in the innovation process which are market scanning, Blue sky thinking, Days on shop floor, Client interaction and Customer feedback with an exploration of short term and long term need and preferences of the customers.
Although the recommendation and conclusion of the research is valid and having no argument on the importance but those recommendations and conclusion are not inline with the objective that was set at the start which was "how consumer needs and preferences influence innovation" the subsequent recommendation and conclusion was expected which is somehow seemingly missed.
There was a need to establish the innovation development process within the each industry with the objective to establish the involvement of customers in the process since that would have helped readers in understanding the process of innovation and its significance and to establish the involvement of customer in the process. There is missing information about which information or preference of customers in a particular industry was incorporated with the examples and evidence. I have similar point of view about the interaction with the customers in order to have in depth understanding about the needs and desire but not for the sake just interacting and not taking into account the preferences of customers in developing new products.
Since the research explore majority of the innovation and new product and services are developed are incremental in nature and industries are missing with the radical innovation which also suggest in assuming that organizations themselves assume the need of customers by looking at their current product or services. This motivate me in assuming that product development at selected industries are one sided without the involvement of customers but the customers involvement is to ensure the feelings developed in the customers mind for being serve nicely and he is on board with the organization.
As the research was planed to be based on face to face individual interviews but according to the publication, there were quite of few occasions when interview was conducted in with the involvement of two people of the organization that were participating. Similarly the amount of time and number of people that interviewed had also differed with in the organisations. The collection of written information may not be the true reflection of individual and perhaps a written work was the efforts of some external consultant or a group of people from various level had a biased sort of material that could have been based companies own capacities, mindset for long term achievement and strategic move. Since the questions during the interview also vary with in the same organization as well as in different organization to that makes the compilation of data, its collection difficult in order to draw any conclusion.
The said research done that from critic's point of does not completely justify the conclusion and recommendation against the objective set. Research has not been as achieving its objective as the quality of work in compiling all the necessary available information. The research which was based on adopting the qualitative method of approach had limited the researcher's horizon to understand the area. Since the concept of both "innovation" and "Consumer behavior" is widely spread and a lot of material and articles are already available on the topic which was demanding that research had to be on focusing the true innovative organization regardless of type of innovation. The use of multidisciplinary organizations from various industries was another area which makes the research findings complex in nature since innovation's need, its attribute, profile of customers greatly vary. Limited sample size that is approximately 50 interviews does not represent the five different industries and ignorance of industries' customers with the research frame work also make this research work half done because it was from my point of view important to involve the customers' in the form of focus group or in-depth interview or through quantitative research on the shop floor, on street or through internet surveys or community survey. The use of quantitative method of research could have improved the work by improving: