Business or Organizations who are in their infancy or who are in their maturity need a very essential tool to assure survival. That tool is none other than Research and Development or R & D. Research and Development was extensively used by the pharmaceutical industry and those involved in scientific projects because it was considered an essential, a necessity. Today, however, small, medium-sized and large business and organizations have to employ research and development. It has become a necessity as well to business or organizations that desire to survive in the modern marketplace.
Research and Development is Essential
The roots of research and development go all the way back to ancient times. When kings and kingdoms waged war against each other, they would employ certain techniques of information gathering. The sole purpose of which was to gain an upper hand during the actual war or battle. This information was used to aid in the formulation of offensive and defensive strategies.
The same principles hold true today. Business or organizations need to gather information as part of its research and development, with the same purpose. That is of gaining an upper hand in the business battle. The modern day marketplace is a conglomeration of every conceivable product or service, almost. An in order to gain an advantage over the others excellently planned and analyzed research and development will do the job.
The method and the kind of research and development may not be the uniform in all business or organizations. But the goal is similar; to use data, information, behavior and the like, gathered in the research and development for the ultimate good and existence of the business or organization.
Connecting with End-Users
The purpose of business or organizations is to create and keep customers. This statement has been the driving force behind the efforts of retailers, manufacturers and service providers. But creating and keeping customers is no easy task. It is hard work, but it is hard work that results in a good pay off. To create and keep customers, business or organizations need an excellent research and development effort.
The primary goal of such effort is to begin with identifying the customer and his needs. If you begin with a product or an idea and start to find ways to sell it, you got the whole equation wrong. Research and development should and must connect business or organizations to the End-Users, the customer. And to do that one has to ask the right questions. Who is our customer? What are his needs? What are his wants? Who are currently providing it?
These questions allow business and organizations to channel research and development to the right direction. Asking the right questions will develop ones sensitivity (to what the customer needs and wants), and the right question will develop ones sensibility as well (to what products or services will satisfy them).
The research and development effort begins with identifying the customer. In a world where products and services have almost become like fashion “here today, gone tomorrow; the quicker the business or organization identifies its customers, the better its chance of providing a product or service on time.
Examples abound: mobile phones have always had a feature called SMS, and it was not utilized by the west, however, it was in Asia that customers discovered it can we a new way to communicate, Text as they call it. Phone manufacturers, who were able to quickly identify the end-user, came up with the phone and equipment and thus have a well-entrenched position in the industry. Customers sometimes might be difficult to identify but they are out there waiting.
Deviations During Research and Development
The modern marketplace is chaotic and so is the modern day customer. Today they want one product; tomorrow they do not even dare to look at it. They change their tastes frequently; today they may like earth colors, and tomorrow all they want is black. Today they want compact cars, tomorrow they still want small cars but with big engines. It is the normal behavior of the modern marketplace and the modern day customer. Deviations and variations are frequent occurrences in the modern marketplace.
It is the business or organizations research and development that will identify such deviations in customer and customer behavior way ahead of the competition that will make a tremendous effect to the business or organizations operations. A case in point is the fast food industry that was primarily conceptualized due to the changing lifestyle: the fast paced life does not allow people time to cook and eat at home frequently. Later on however, researchers found a very marginal deviation, they noticed that children and teens had purchasing power “money from their parents, and they could decide when and where to eat. Marketers then were able to come up with food chains and menus that cater to their specific needs.
A deviation will need a correction. Research and development might be looking the wrong way, and deviations and variations in lifestyle, market behavior and taste will be warning signals to business or organization to make such timely correction. There are no magic formulas in research and development, but the one logical thing to do is that if you find a deviation, and then make the necessary correction.
Deviations may be small unusual movements in the marketplace, scenarios are major movements in the marketplace. Such movements if not easily identified will spell tragedy on business or organizations. It is well-planned and well-coordinated research and development that will forewarn us of such events, unpredictable scenarios. They can become predictable through the research and development program of the business or organization.
We live in a world of balance and this is probably where research and development should start watching. There is day but there is also night; there is success but there is also failure, there is much but there is also less, there is a storm but there is also calm, the list can actually go on. And one unpredictable scenario is what many term as the trend-countertrend scenario.
The driving force of modern business and our lives is telecommunications: mobile phones, computers, and gadgets and fancy equipment that allow us to communicate and to be reached. These things have helped us tremendously by making the world one big global village. So, what is unpredictable about it? It is the counter trend that it generates.
Strategic planning aided by a well-planned and well-coordinated research and development should take note of these things. Let us take a peek at some counter-trends, these are the opposites: people can be easily reached today but it also produces so much stress and they want to go to places where they can not be reached, the answer? One counter trend: resorts and vacation places that can not be reached. They have no phones, no computers, nothing.
Another counter trend: people have been working like mad to earn so much, but they become restless, overburdened and depressed, and they want to do something else. They want jobs overseas that may not be as rewarding financially but allows them to have a new environment and to rest. The truth is: there are so many job openings for westerners in Asia today than it was 10 years ago. Research and development indeed plays a vital role in strategic planning; it feeds the planners with the right stuff.