Chances are, if you are in the technology field one of the first things you think of for commercializing R&D is Intellectual Property (IP). While protecting IP is important, there are a number of other things that need to happen before taking products and services to market.
1. Understanding your market
The road to commercialization begins with understanding your marketing and staying on top of it. This includes understanding what is going on in the market as a whole, your industry and the segment you’re looking to serve. Many R&D organizations do follow their markets at the beginning. However, as they are in the development phase and there are timelines in place to get products and services out the door, maintaining a watch on markets falls off of the list.
Constantly monitoring the market and adjusting your solutions to meet the changing market as you get closer to take to market is part of successfully commercializing products. Part of this includes watching what competitors are doing and releasing. Part of this includes following technology trends and the economy as a whole in your target market. Are you in an industry, sector or economy that is shrinking? How is your solution being altered to address this need? The alteration can be both technical alteration and business model alteration. What areas are your competitors expanding into?
2. Value Proposition & Understanding your potential customers
This is ideally done at the same time or before the R&D has begun. The best way to ensure success is to create and research something where there is an unmet need and people are willing to pay to meet the need. This is known as a need seeker. * Once companies are ready to commercialize they should also be thinking about their potential customers and how to best message their value proposition to their customers. Looking at data about your potential customers is helpful. Talking with customers and understanding what they value is also an essential part of creating an optimal solution and messaging for them.
Creating the messaging for customers can be difficult for those so familiar with the R&D. Your customers do not value or care about the same things you care about. For example, the technical background on a medical device is fascinating to many of the designers in the medical device company but their customer – the doctors and administrators of a hospital- want to know how it can make their lives and their patient’s lives better. Show customers how you solve their problems and connect to them as you’re doing this.
Protecting your IP is an early part of getting ready for commercialization. Understanding your market, your value proposition and your customers are essential to successfully commercializing products and services.
*Need Seekers are one of three strategies for innovating. Market Readers and Technology are the other two strategies for innovation.