The survey reveals that R&D executives in Asia Pacific are focused on challenges surrounding two topics: (1) managing the product portfolio and (2) integrating inputs from an array of sources outside of R&D. In regards to the first topic, R&D executives are struggling to generate an accurate technology map—that outlines customer needs, the current technology landscape, and gaps. Developing an accurate technology map is the first step to addressing R&D’s other portfolio management challenges—prioritizing and funding projects within the portfolio. A technology road-map allows R&D executives to develop a portfolio strategy—that pinpoints which needs match company capabilities for development. Furthermore a formal portfolio strategy is necessary for an effective portfolio management process and measuring project ROI.
Customer-facing functions such as Sales and Marketing are a rich source of innovation information on everything from customer needs to feedback on current products. However, R&D executives struggle with establishing a method to consistently capture and integrate this information with their product development process. Some solutions to this dilemma include establishing regular cross-functional exchanges of ideas, or interacting with customers directly—via crowdsourcing or a formal open innovation process
To examine these challenges in more depth, the survey asked respondents to “root cause” their top challenges by indicating if they stem from issues with staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. R&D executives attribute their challenges to two causes: limitations in staffing and processes. Fortuitously R&D executes foresee additional resources to address their challenges—both staffing and budgets are expected to increase.
In view of open innovation’s (OI) growing prominence and potential to systematically capture ideas from a broad network, the survey asked respondents about their use of OI. The majority of respondents include OI in their product development processes. Open innovation is largely employed for idea generation and concept testing and customers are the primary source of ideas. Most of the respondents have a dedicated OI team within R&D.
Even though companies are committed to using OI—a concept that is founded on tapping into multiple sources for ideas—respondents still cite struggles with gathering and integrating insights from Sales and Marketing and customers. This may be attributed to respondents’ challenges with the fundamentals of establishing an OI program: overcoming the fear of lost IP, establishing a framework for collaboration, and garnering the resources needed to test incoming ideas and technologies.
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Written by Holly Lyke Ho Gland
Holly is the research lead for the Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) program. Holly identifies and profiles best practices that address the main challenges faced by the leadership in key functions that support the CEO in driving growth strategies. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2008, Holly has developed Best Practice Guidebooks for executives in Corporate Strategy, Corporate Development, R&D, Market Research and Competitive Intelligence. In addition to her best practices work, Holly manages GTM’s annual priorities surveys of senior executives within Marketing, Corporate Strategy, Sales Leadership, Corporate Development, and Innovation/R&D. Prior to joining Frost & Sullivan, Holly worked for three years at Sam Houston State University. There she was an instructor and a research assistant on research projects analyzing public perceptions of natural resource management in natural gas, power and water.