It is said that the more you know, the more that you can do with what you know. That’s why using research to breed innovation is essential for your business.
A corporate Research & Development department is an extremely important resource, but they typically tend to focus on near-term and short-term opportunities: The day to day improvements, the launch of a new product, the “low-hanging” fruit, as it were. A true research strategy involves a long-term approach and commitment to understanding the ways your market will change over time. In other words, putting research into practice means looking into the future, well beyond your current business model, to find new ways to impact slow and steady growth. This may require road-mapping your business according to new ideas, expert projections, and sometimes even major paradigm shifts.
Unfortunately, research such as this can be both expensive and difficult to perform. Many companies in this economy have been forced to cut spending in every department, and usually one of the first to be affected is the research team. However, a shortsighted decision to save money now by axing research, may truly hurt your business in the long run.
Research does not have to be a huge expense, though. Customer Feedback is an excellent way to gather information, discover trends, and predict the future of your industry. Managed efficiently, it can provide an enormous competitive advantage. By staying in touch with your customers’ wants and needs, you can find out a great deal of knowledge that can be practically applied to your business.
Acquiring feedback can be as simple as launching a web-based tool like Flagpole. Flagpole deploys quickly and creates an easy-to-use sharing ground for ideas and suggestions from your customers. You can directly ask them all the questions you need answered by issuing challenges. Your employees can also participate by submitting their own answers and ideas, and by voting and commenting on those received from your customers. This will begin to build strong and meaningful interactions between your company and your user community. What you gather from these interactions and ideas will undoubtedly help you predict where your market is heading, and where your company needs to be to stay ahead.