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Management Roundtable presents the first annual
Customer Needs Discovery
& Innovation Congress
Beyond 'Voice' to Total User Experience

August 13-15, 2007 / Chicago, IL


Microsoft | Steelcase | LEGO Mindstorms
The Coca-Cola Company | Bit 7 | ZIBA | Hallmark
Sun Microsystems | Boston Scientific | IBM | IIT Inst. of Design Whirlpool | BD


Impactful Ethnography in Product Development: Integrating Deep Insights across a Product Division

Donna K. Flynn
User Experience Strategy Lead
Mobile & Embedded Devices

Microsoft Corporation

As a tool for building customer understanding, ethnography is distinguished by its ability to build deep insights into people’s behaviors and needs in everyday life. But impactful ethnography in product development must begin and end inside the hallways, conference rooms, and design studios of product teams. Appropriate translation of insights into both tactical and strategic impacts can make or break the value of investments in ethnographic research for product development. In this talk, Dr. Flynn shares a case study of successes and best practices in driving impactful ethnography across a product division and using it as a way to build bridges between executives and product teams, marketing and development, company and customer.


Understanding Work, Workers and WorkSpaces through User Centered

Joyce Bromberg
Director of WorkSpace
Futures - Explorations

Steelcase, Inc.

Ms. Bromberg will give an overview of Steelcase’s six step development process; a process that has allowed them to better develop new products, understand and prepare to enter new markets and create transforming customer experiences.

In this talk, Ms. Bromberg will explain how this process is organized and will discuss the importance of its networks and outside collaborations. Specifically, this presentation will examine:

  • Nonaka's concept of Ba and the requirement to understand both tacit and explicit knowledge.

  • Successful techniques and methods to identify unmet customer needs.

  • The power of stories and how they can help to compel action and acceptance of new ideas.

  • Case examples and lessons learned.


Consumer Innovation –
Unleashing the Power of your Community

Søren Lund
Senior Director
Lego® Mindstorms®

The consumer landscape is changing. Consumers of today are intelligent, they are creative and they have an opinion. And they expect you to listen! How can you take advantage of this new situation?

Hear the story of how LEGO invited the lead users into the development process of the next generation of the famous LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics products. Lund will go through the overall strategy, describe the process for how to create win-win situations, show the value it created for LEGO and discuss the benefits of consumer innovation.


Voice of Customer Insights Database: Integration of On-line Screening into the Innovation Process

Richard Staten
Senior Manager,
Innovation Business Development

The Coca-Cola Company

An introductory discussion of The Coca-Cola Company's Common Innovation Framework, a disciplined process used globally across business unit geographies. Enabled by leadership and a culture that fosters collaboration, Coca-Cola North America's innovation focus is on acquiring insights and turning them into opportunities. In the area of idea generation, the use of on-line screening has been integrated as a way for the initial exploration of concepts from our consumers, customers, and shoppers. This approach provides a quick and efficient way to determine which concepts will be advanced to become business cases/projects, built bigger, or retained for future use/applied globally


Stealth Approach & Creating Total User Experience

Mike Roosa
Vice President
BIT 7, Inc.

As the leading brand for trolling motors in the world of fishing, Minn Kota heavily involves users in its innovation process. However, a significant challenge arose when the company was targeting a new trolling motor platform on which it wanted to obtain user feedback without informing the user community or its competitors. User research was considered even more critical for this platform since it was an exceptionally complex system.

To minimize exposure and still gain valuable customer insights, Minn Kota engaged BIT 7 to assist in the discrete user discovery, learn insights from current products, and then create a system for technical evaluation and user experience throughout the discovery process.

Key learning’s from this session include:

  • Utilizing outsourcing for a stealth approach

  • Importance of “system thinking” approach to user discovery

  • The need to create the environment for total user experience

  • Multiple user validation testing has profound impacts

  • Impacts on product benefits from user discovery


Creating Meaningful, Authentic Experiences: Connecting Sirius Satellite Radio To Their Next Generation Customers

David Thorpe
Creative Director
ZIBA Design

Sirius Satellite Radio asked Ziba to help identify product opportunities that would connect its technology to next-generation customers on a deeply emotional, yet highly functional level. First-generation satellite radio products successfully addressed functional and technical issues, but they fell short of delivering an experience that would attract more than just innovators and early adopters. Satellite radio had not yet become an essential part of the average person’s everyday life.

Ziba and Sirius set out to create an icon for satellite radio that would connect functionally and emotionally with a broader audience. To do this, Ziba had to get to the core of what satellite radio meant to users. We were given a clean slate by Sirius to discover how to make its products connect with the next wave of satellite radio users. Our ethnographic research and design strategy would lay the foundation for Sirius’ product development efforts for the next three to four years.

David Thorpe, Creative Director at ZIBA, will talk about how to first create a compelling vision for a rapidly evolving market and then bring that vision to the market with world-class execution.


Hearing the Voice of the Market:
Creating and Using Online Communities to Get Consumer Input

Thomas W. Brailsford
Manager of Advancing Capabilities
Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Hallmark is attaining consumer insight through the use of proprietary online consumer communities. Hear what Hallmark is doing to integrate the voice of the consumer into the company to address a range of issues form product development to strategy. This session will explore the lessons that Hallmark has learned in the process and share stories of success and failures that have occurred along the way. Specifically, this presentation will address:

  • Why online communities? The creation of consumer consultants.

  • How are communities different from panels?

  • Getting buy-in on the business side for the use of online communities to test ideas and thinking.

  • How to create vibrant, constructive, productive, online dialog with consumers.

  • The power of trust in qualitative research.

  • Can we get valid information from online communities?

  • Online ethnography? Usual visual and textual tools in analyzing content.

  • Getting to insights from online communities.


Increasing New product Sucess:
Letting Customer Needs Drive NPD

Hernando Gonzalez, PhD
Senior Manager
Customer Research

Sun Microsystems

While Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty (CSL) research looks backward, Customer Needs Discovery (CND) looks forward. CSL analyzes and interprets a company’s past performance in delivering or exceeding customer expectations, while CND looks to the future, what customers really want, what opportunities are up ahead, what competitive threats might arise, and what your company needs to plan accordingly. CSL is your rearview mirror, while CND enables you to see what’s up front.

This talk will trace the steps that StorageTek, the data management division of Sun Microsystems, took to research, develop, engineer and market the SL8500, now the leading enterprise-level automated tape library in the world.

Specifically, Mr. Gonzalez will examine:

  • The value of taking a cross-functional approach to building the initial product concept (including RD&E. sales, marketing, customer research)

  • How to guarantee the use of research results after completion

  • Review of qualitative research methods used and designing quantitative research based on qualitative research findings

  • Considerations when selecting the most appropriate decision-making research method (e.g. conjoint analysis of features, functionalities, and pricing)

  • Product prototype testing at regular intervals (customer visits, beta testing at customer datacenters)

  • The importance of monitoring product performance by continuing to gather customer feedback as product moves from limited to general availability; (and monitor the introduction of additional versions - following the product roadmap relative to evolving customer needs and wants)


Understanding Customer Motivations - Interpreting for Innovation & Execution

Scott Engle
Director of Emerging Technology
& New Market Development

Boston Scientific

Mr. Engle will review a proven methodology for gathering and organizing customer input for the purposes of portfolio planning and innovation. He will also give a brief overview of voice of the customer methodologies and type that can be fed into simple tools to help drive portfolio direction and decision making.

Specifically, Mr. Engle will address:

  • Determining the scope of your customer definition.

  • What can you realistically expect your customer to provide?

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative assessment tools and methodology that feeds analysis

  • Overview and examples of tools that help organize customer needs and motivations

  • Understanding competitive advantage based on customer perception and tools to assess position based on needs and motivations

  • Making decisions and driving the direction of innovation

Key learnings:

  • The customer can not tell you what to do, but they can tell you what they need.

  • The output of your process is only as good as the input. The importance of good research to portfolio and technology planning.

  • Simple methods and tools that can enable your decision making.

  • Your organizational knowledge toward interpretation is important.


Ensuring Valid Interpretations of Customer Insights with Market Driven Product Definition

Cecelia Henderson
Director of Global Strategic Research

In today's competitive market understanding what customers really want is critical to success. Commonly, organizations go out and ask customers what they want. The challenge is in correctly interpreting the response to identify unmet needs and translate these needs into requirements and ultimately into product specifications that truly satisfy customers.

At BD PAS, to address the need for greater customer insight, in addition to the classic market research tools such as focus groups, depth interviews and surveys, we have adopted "voice of the customer tools" associated with our Six Sigma product development process. There are a number of "brands" of VOC, but the one commonly used in our business is MDPD or Market Driven Product Definition.

The topics to be covered in this discussion are:

  • How we translate the findings from the VOC into requirements and specifications;

  • How we handle apparently conflicting requirements;

  • How we communicate requirements and specifications;

  • How we validate that we have met customer needs.

Key takeaways

  • Translate VOC into requirements and specs with care. Complete analysis and cross-functional engagement is critical.

  • Validation of requirements/specifications is a continuous process – before during and after launch.


Needs Clusters: An Accelerated Method for Creating User Centered Insights for Innovation

Jeremy Alexis
Assistant Professor
of Design

User research is often criticized for taking too long, costing too much, and not delivering deep enough insights. Even when research is successful, it can be a stress-filled experience for the team and the client as the insights slowly develop from a set of ambiguous, often hard to understand data. Much of this problem can be traced back to the fact that most designers “reinvent the wheel” every time they design and execute a research study. Our research on the design process suggests that there are a discreet set of research strategies that, if used by designers to frame discovery work, will yield insights efficiently and cost effectively.

In this talk, Mr. Alexis will outline one of these research strategies: Needs Clusters. This strategy looks to create an intersection between customer requirements (what they want / need) and customer behavioral modes (how they go about getting what they want / need). He will also discuss how needs clusters can be used to drive concept generation, manage a product portfolio, and develop a new product strategy (through identification of opportunity areas).


Deriving Customer Insight from Unstructured Information

W. Scott Spangler
Senior Technical Fellow,
Service-Oriented Technology

IBM Almaden Research Center

Mr. Spangler will discuss the insights and knowledge that has been gained from the research applications his team of applied researchers and software engineers has been doing over the last ten years in the area of structured and unstructured data mining. The team has been developing technologies to address real world business problems; the team has implemented and experimented with variations of most approaches and algorithms available in IBM research and elsewhere, as well as creating a few new techniques of its own. Through trial and error, insight and sometimes good luck, the team has come up with an approach supported by technology that has the potential to revolutionize the definition of business intelligence and how businesses leverage information analytics to understand the needs of the customer.

The primary lessons of this talk can be summarized in 3 points:

  • Mining unstructured information is the key to knowing what you don’t know about your customers’ opinions about your company and its products.

  • In order to effectively mine unstructured information, you must first capture business objectives and domain expertise

  • Interactive taxonomy generation is a method for capturing these critical domain specific elements as part of the overall unstructured mining process.

In this talk, Mr. Spangler will describe the methodology used in Mining the Talk, and show how this method has been applied on numerous engagements to figure out what customers want. At the end of the talk you will be able to recognize potential unstructured mining applications and have a good idea of the overall approach that needs to be taken to derive business value from unstructured data.


What Do Customers Really Do?

Christopher J.
Carlson, Sr.

Consumer Scientist
Whirlpool Corporation

Ethnographic techniques can be a great tool for gaining deep understanding of customer environments to form the basis for insight into customers' behaviors and needs. However, traditional techniques involve an ever-present ethnographer who interrupts the customers' flow of activity and disrupts the very behaviors he or she is trying to observe! While remote on-location video observation is not new, Whirlpool Corporation's Research & Engineering group is using a unique video observational technique that captures all the consumer's natural activities without an ethnographer present! Captured video is thoroughly edited and then inserted into an organized, searchable database library that can be used by marketing, engineering, and research or project teams for diverse goals involving the needs of the consumer. These cross-functional teams are able to easily locate and view the observations to gain insights of true customer behaviors.

Whirlpool's Christopher J. Carlson will introduce you to the research that was done and how it was accomplished, and will inspire you to believe that you CAN actually know what the customer really does.

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