27 Oct Product Development: Way More Than Technology
From time to time I am asked to speak to engineers and scientists about technology product development as a new undertaking, from the point of view of a technology company. Often, these engineers and scientists are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs looking for guidance on how to efficiently commercialize new technology products in medical or precision industrial markets. They are most comfortable conversing about clever ways to incorporate new technology into products that then can be used to function beyond current benchmark products. This skill is critical to development, however, it’s often more productive to discuss those aspects of technology development that engineers and scientists don’t want to talk about. The truth is that the success of a new product, no matter how complex or innovative the technology involved, is directly tied to a lot of factors that have much less to do with science and much more to do with everything else.
What is that “everything else”?
It includes marketing, legal, manufacturing, operations, quality assurance, sales, distribution, customer service, and more. And if it’s a regulated medical device, then there are also regulatory and reimbursement issues that are critical to the ability to sell a product and that directly affect price points. Most of these issues need to be addressed prior to or at the same time as the technology development.
At this point of a presentation, I know I’ve lost most of the technical inventors in the audience, because when you say words like “marketing”, “legal” and “regulatory” to technology types, they often hear “wah, wah, wah”. So I won’t go on any longer. Just know that if you are undertaking this kind of development, you need to manage far more than just developing technology, and your plan and your team should be ready to address all of these factors.