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Case Studies: Product Improvements

Other Case Studies: Revenue Enhancement | New Market Opportunities | Organizational Excellence

These case studies are examples of EastSight Consulting CEO Parmelee Eastman's experience.

Improving Products in Evolving Markets:

A provider of Internet ecommerce applications was in the midst of planning for the next version of its flagship offering, but found that its lack of information clouded the planning process. As is typical of evolving markets, users varied considerably in the potential solutions being considered. Other firms offering solutions in this space made claims for product features that seemed questionable. Faced with this quandary, the provider sought an unbiased view of top user problems, needs, and desired characteristics in a product. Plus the provider sought a clear understanding of what features and functions were included in existing products in the market and what would be included in the next version. With this knowledge, the company could put plans for its next version into effect, confident of user acceptance and leverage vs. existing products.

Results: The company’s next version was highly rated by industry experts and increased the company’s win rate for contracts.

Surprising Insights from PC Users:

A manufacturer of PCs communicated with and surveyed its users regularly to determine satisfaction. However, the firm decided to gain additional insight by commissioning a blind study comparing its products with those offered by its fastest growing peer. Users from a cross-section of industry, geography, title, and company size were interviewed on their opinions of their PC features and functions, PC supplier, channel preference, and buying patterns. The majority of the sources were contacted via telephone; however, a subset of the interviews were conducted in-person which yielded surprising additional information. With the intelligence, the firm could determine which features and buying mode were most significant.

Results: The firm modified its product plans, but also revised its advertising to emphasize certain features more prominently.

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Conforming to Standards in the Infrastructure Market:

A major manufacturer of telephony infrastructure equipment needed to learn how the rest of the industry planned to incorporate new industry standards into new releases of their products. Were the new standards being ignored? Which release would incorporate the standards? Discussions with appropriate product managers and marketers at the other organizations revealed that adherence to the standards was already being included in future versions which were likely to be released within a year to customers.

Result: Faced with falling behind the rest of the industry, the manufacturer accelerated its development plans in order to meet the same time frame.

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Evaluation of Emerging Optical Networking Organizations:

A developer of networking components needed to assess the attractiveness of start-up optical networking organizations as potential acquisitions, and if not acquired, what was the potential threat posed by these companies. The flood of venture capital money into the optical networking field allowed start-ups to ramp products up rapidly which could take market share from the industry leaders. A review of secondary literature and interviews with knowledgeable third parties generated a list of emerging participants. A spreadsheet summarized important information, including funding, management experience, and underlying technology, and permitted the manufacturer to prioritize further research.

Result: The company decided which acquisition candidates to investigate in more depth in this rapidly-changing marketplace.

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Benchmarking Company Services and Functions Against Best-in-Class:

A fast-growing supplier of technical support and training for open source software sought to improve both its service offerings and its organizational effectiveness. To do so, the firm needed information that could only be obtained by benchmarking its services and functional areas against its chief peer and the best-in-class organization for each service and functional area. After extensive discussions with each of the functional areas on issues, the best-in-class companies were selected. An industry trade show coincided with the commencement of the project so the peers and several best-in-class organizations were interviewed very quickly. Additional information was obtained with primary research. A long table comparing the client, chief peer, and best-in-class for each area/service allowed a detailed visual analysis.

Results: The client re-vamped its services to better match the marketplace and implemented organizational changes based on the effective practices of the best-in-class firms. The client saved considerably more than the cost of the project by eliminating services that the study found to lack customer interest.

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