Research & Design Strategy

Empathy is key to new product success

I love the energy in the new product development space.

Inspiration for a new product or service, nourished by the intellect and passion of entrepreneurs and innovators, is just waiting to bust onto the market as it is fully realized in the consumer space. It is high stakes and potentially high reward. And one thing is sure, the pace can be blazing fast.

I’ve been involved in new product development, prototyping and flagship development for nearly a decade, and IT IS EXCITING. Even at my career prior, as part of a design-build firm, we were searching for ways to stretch the limits of materials, processes and technologies, layering and combining them in unique ways in our own little “laboratory” of design, so to speak.

But why? What’s at the center of it all? Customers.

Consumers crave products, services and experiences that help them relax, work, play (and play hard), stay healthy, communicate, grow up, grow old, look good, feel good, and be more efficient at doing all of it. As consumers, we have voracious appetites for anything that delivers well on any of those needs. So it is no wonder that a well-conceived new product or service can make a big splash. With the prevalence of smartphones and social media, it’s never been easier to disseminate information and communicate by “word of mouth.” Get it right and your customers will not stop talking about your product until that ripple you created gains energy and becomes a tidal wave.

Recently, I got to participate in a one-day sprint and see some ripples that are seriously threatening to make some big waves in the market during Customer Day at a Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program for entrepreneurs. This program selects a mere 14 companies, out of hundreds upon hundreds of applicants, to be sponsored for a few months out in Seattle. The companies have access to facilities, mentors, industry professionals and networking opportunities, and even funding, all in an effort to get their startups off the ground and flying high.

If you haven’t met a customer lately, what are you waiting for?

Let’s talk about how we can help move your business forward.

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