Google products do not fair well on the market or do not reach the market at all as they would have failed during the trial stages because they hardly follow the proper steps in new product development. Therefore the question Google needs to ask itself before embarking on a project is whether or not a product is what the customer needs because what the engineers want to develop is not necessarily what people need. Therefore structured and analytic approaches to innovation have been proven valuable in new product development. It is important to highlight the need for customer’s input as they function as a fresh set of eyes. Google should continue to encourage a steady stream of new product possibilities from their engineers while social networks could be used to dialogue with customers and get new ideas.
Google needs to have Innovation management in which there is the discipline of managing processes in innovation which in turn can be used in the development of both product and organizational innovation. Innovation processes can either be pushed or pulled through development. Instead of just having some creative ideas and launching them, Google could also adopt some innovation styles as part of their innovation management.
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Question II 10
Discuss and suggest some feasible application considerations when developing a new product development strategy for Google.
In general, developing new products is usually expensive and risky. The majority of new product inventions are not successful. In Australia for instance, 95% of private inventions never reach the market (Walker, 2004). Google is evidently aware of this fact because most of its products do not fair well on the market or do not reach the market at all as they would have failed during the trial stages.
It is needless to say that the high failure rate should not discourage companies from introducing new products because customers eventually lose interest in once popular products, particularly if competitors introduce more attractive products. Google is evidently aware of this fact due to the high rate of new products that they introduce onto the internet hence providing a vast diversity of products with the hope that one of them will succeed. This, however, says a lot about Google’s new product development strategy even though they have a lot of products.
Looking at Google products and the way they do things it is apparent that Google hardly follows the proper steps in new product development this is why some of their products do not succeed.
Companies often introduce new services on the basis of employees’ subjective opinions on whether the product will be successful (Zeithaml et al, 2009), which is the case with Google as mentioned by Marissa Mayer. This is not good as it only incorporates the views and needs of what the employees think the customers want and not exactly what the customer needs.
(Image1 source: http://answers.google.com/answers/answers-logo-sm.gif)
For example Google had a product called Google Answers in which a person would ask a question for a specified amount of money and experts in the field would answer the question. This service was of course terminated in 2006, but was it necessary in the first place to have such a product? No it was not especially when one had to pay for it. There are so many other services online where you can get expert help for free.
Therefore the question Google needs to ask itself before embarking on a project is whether or not a product is what the customer needs because what the employees want to develop is not necessarily what people need.
Structured and analytic approaches to innovation have been proven valuable in new product development (Zeithaml et al, 2009). According to Elliot and colleagues, (2008), there are seven recognised phases of the new product development process, namely; idea generation, screening, concept testing, business analysis, product development, test marketing and commercialisation. These should be considered by Google for its product development strategy because this will ensure that their products do not end up being null and void or being removed or thrown out.
(Image 2 source: http://lostgarden.com/uploaded_images/StageGate-GreenLight-Diagram-708507.jpg)
Google likes to have a lot of products thrown into the market and hope for the best (Image 2). With this notion in mind Google can still do that because some of the phases in product development can be conducted simultaneously since products evolve very fast hence they can have many products that succeed as opposed to having one or two that make it (Image 3).
(Image 3 source: http://lostgarden.com/uploaded_images/StageGate-Gate-Diagram-717771.jpg)
Idea generation refers to the process of seeking product ideas. The ideas may emanate from internal or external sources. Internal sources include employees of the organisation while external sources are usually customers, competitors, advertising agencies, research organisations etc. The interview reveals that Google uses a lot of internal sources for their idea generation. These are important because they can identify organisational issues necessary for the development of the product. It is however, important to include customers in idea generation, ‘particularly in situations in which the customer personally carries out part of the service process.’ (Zeithaml et al, 2009). This is something that Google has turned a blind eye on. They fail to realise that in as much as they want to have cutting edge products, customers are the driving force to making the product cutting edge. Customers, hence, need to be part of the idea generation of a product not after the product has already been made public (as shown by the customer feedback system on the products in question).
Therefore Google should continue to encourage a steady stream of new product possibilities from their engineers (internal source) while social networks could be used to dialogue with customers and get new ideas that way they do not neglect the external sources.
In as much as Google’s product releases seems random, Haqlund et al (1995) would approve of the apparent confusion at Google as they believe that creativity involves improvisation, anarchy and internal competition, which results in ‘both a planned process and a happening.’ Google does need a bit of organisation by implementing the new product development process so as to keep their product development and releases in check.
Idea screening refers to the analysis of product ideas in which the nature and wants of buyers are assessed. No idea screening is done by Google they just do it, the engineers just give suggestions around a particular idea and they take the suggestion and incorporate it into the given idea and start working on it without top management approval and without proper screening of the idea to see if it is indeed feasible and or appropriate and whether or not it will be accepted on the market after it has been lunched. This increases the probability of developing something that the customer does not need. They might want it and go for it as soon as it is launched but after a short period of time the user realises that they do not need the product and hence the life span of that product is shortened.
(Image 4 source: http://www.accelerantresearch.com/images/product-dev/product-dev1.jpg)
Some of the products need to go through the screening process so as to know whether or not the product will be maintainable or upgradable. Now if Google had to screen their ideas before hand (as shown in Image 4) then some of their products would have been successful or would not have been launched at all because there are some products that Google has that are just not necessary.
Now judging from what the interviewee said about some engineers who get tired of working on the same task, it is of paramount importance to once again highlight the need for customer’s input as they function as a fresh set of eyes. Customers will look at the same product in a different way and be able to suggest something new that can be done.
Concept testing involves presenting the idea to a sample of potential customers which enables the company to test potential customers’ reactions before the product can be launched on a large scale. Where Beta Testing and Market Testing is concerned Google does; however, use this strategy on some of its products.
(Image source: http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/rockmelt_browser_facebook_logo.png and http://cogadget.com/cogadget/photos/logo/google_chrome_logo.jpg )
For example in the case of RockMelt, it is a Google product that looks like Google chrome but caters to facebook fans who are able to see what is going on with their friends in real time and all the time. Google has decided to test the product by sending it to a few people and allowing those people to invite their friends to use it by giving the user a certain number of invites and with each person that installs it the invites issued are increased. This is a good strategy because not only does Google get feedback on how to improve RockMelt but they also know by the number of people that install it and invite others whether or not it will be a success if launched officially.
If Google were to implement this strategy on a substantial amount of products then it would be easier to know which products to keep and launch on a larger scale as well as which products to scrap off. According to the interview with Marissa Mayer, they did the same thing with Gmail by sending invites to people to use Gmail and because of that Gmail is now widely used by many and hence became and still is a success. It now competes with other email services such as Hotmail and Yahoo! RockMelt now has the chance to become better than Google Chrome as well as other internet browsers since it is still in its testing phase.
At the test marketing stage, the product is released in limited quantities, to test customer reactions while reducing the risk of product failure. Product failure could lead to the company’s loss of credibility which is not the case with Google since it is well known that people still try out Google products regardless of their failure.
At the commercialisation phase modifications are made based on the test marketing findings. Full scale marketing is then done. In the internet industry, gradual marketing may allow competitors to quickly enter the same target market with similar products. Google is apparently not too concerned about this prospect hence Google Labs.
Therefore in as much as Google has employed the strategy of just dumping their products with the hope of at least one success, they can have a more organised strategy whereby there is guarantee of at least majority success rather than minority success.
In this highly competitive online environment, illustrate how Google better manage innovation within the organization to stay ahead of its competitor in the internet industry?
Google needs to have Innovation management in which there is the discipline of managing processes in innovation which in turn can be used in the development of both product and organizational innovation. Google will need to allow managers and engineers to cooperate together knowing the goals and the processes of the development of a new product. Google can make sure that the main focus of innovation management is to allow response to external as well as internal opportunities in which creative efforts to introduce new ideas are used (Kelly, and Kranzburg, 1978).
(Image 6 source: http://www.ucd.ie/nitm/images/graph1.gif )
Google already understands that innovation management involves workers at every level in contributing creatively to a company’s development and hence do not stop the creativity of engineers who have input on a new product. What Google needs to do now is to trigger and deploy the creative juices of the engineers towards the continuous development of the products. The process that they can adopt can be that of an evolutionary integration of strategy, technology and operations (Tidd et al, 2009) because successful innovation management is naturally multi-functional and matches a deep understanding of user needs and wants to a unique technical ability hence the integration of customer ideas as well as engineer’s ideas (as seen in Image 6).
Innovation processes can either be pushed or pulled through development. A pushed process is based on existing or newly invented technology, that the organization has access to, and tries to find profitable applications to use this technology (Trott and Paul, 2005). It is evident that Google does adopt the push concept but not for all products. If Google is to be ahead in the internet industry they are to make sure that the products that have made it are continuously developed one of the ways in which Google can do this is to go ahead with the idea of merging some products together to make one product.
A pulled process tries to find areas where customers’ needs are not met, and then focus development efforts to find solutions to those needs (Trott and Paul, 2005). Instead of trying to compete with existing products in the industry by deploying a new product that is identical or has similar functions, Google must use their customer feedback system to get ideas on what the customers need so that they bridge the gap and hence their products become more successful. In order to achieve this Google also needs to have a team that has both engineers as well as marketers who are in touch with the customer needs so that both the technically creative things can work hand in hand with the customer requirements hence producing a successful product which inturn places Google ahead of its competitors.
In order to stay ahead of its competitors in the internet industry Google needs to make sure that the products that they are offering online are valuable and meet the need of the customer. If the customer has a better alternative to that being offered by Google they will leave the Google product and go the product offered by the competitor and hence the failure of a Google product.
With the encouragement of new products at Google, they should make sure that the new products are indeed new and relevant, such as Google Docs where people can create spreadsheets as well as develop surveys, etc. This is a need for anyone who goes online and it is very convenient and hence in that area Google will probably remain the lead. Therefore the product characteristics meet the customer needs and are an advantage over competing products with technological sophistication (Zeithaml et al, 2009).
Even though their engineers may feel tired of doing the same thing they should still maintain the existing products that have been successful so that they remain successful. This is because innovation is a continuous process. It does not end at the market acceptance but the product has to be continuously improved. Therefore Google should have strategy characteristics in which there are dedicated human resources to support the initiative as well as dedicated research and development focused on the new product initiative (Zeithaml et al, 2009). Just as they continue to improve the search engine, they should also seek to improve Gmail so that it does not just compete with Hotmail and Yahoo but should actually be better than them.
(Image 7 source: http://emekaeme.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/innovartis001-001.png )
The more Google has products that are relevant the more they become less of a follower in the industry hence becoming leaders (as illustrated in image7).
Instead of just having some creative ideas and launching them, Google could also adopt some innovation styles as part of their innovation management. Google must have people who like to imagine what a product must entail and should idealise (Visioning). They should also have people who test out the ideas or even the combination of ideas and then produce results to which they can use to improve a product idea (Experimenting). Modification ties in with the testing as the results are used to modify the product that has already been created (Modifying) and after that is done they then later on look for new possibilities to venture into so as to remain ahead (Exploring).
(Image8 source: http://innovationstyles.com/isinc/Themes/default/images/Common/is_chart.jpg)
Therefore Google can implement some of these applications where innovation management is concerned so as to remain ahead in the industry.
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ELLIOT, G, et al, 2008, Marketing: Core Concepts and Applications, John Wiley & Sons, Australia
HAQLUND E,L, and MATTSON, J, 1995, Analysis, Planning, Improvisation and Control in the Development of New Services, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol.6, Issue No.2, pp.34-35
KELLY, P. and KRANZBURG M., 1978, Technological Innovation: A Critical Review of Current Knowledge, San Francisco, San Francisco Press.
TIDD et al, 2009, Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological, Market and Organizational Change, 1st edition, Chichester, Wiley
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WALKER, J, 2004, A Step Ahead of the Future, BRW, 17 June, pp.54
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