INTERNATIONAL QFD CONFERENCE 2013
The common practice of QFD takes product development to a high level of sophistication and competitive impact by discovering real customer needs and deploying differentiating functionalities into the product design that will fully satisfy chosen customers. Strategic positioning of a business is the responsibility of top management, a process that would benefit greatly from the QFD logic and that can be much better integrated with product development. In this paper QFD applied to strategic positioning and business development is presented as an effective handshake between business and product development. The integration of QFD thinking in strategy development is instrumental in defining a strongly differentiating position of a company in its competitive arena.
Why are some companies capable of bringing to the market innovative and profitable products and services whilst others, even with high investments in new product development work hard but fail? Recent investigations show that there is no direct relation between investments in R&D and successful innovation. Success factors mentioned instead are unique combination of talent, knowledge, teamwork structure, tools and processes. In our view, important as these factors certainly are, what really sets the successful innovators apart is their tight and transparent cooperation between business development, marketing and sales, R&D, production and sometimes purchasing in defining the key target customer clusters for growth, related new differentiating propositions and the way these departments jointly develop, test, produce and launch them.
Despite its small size, The Netherlands is strong in research and development. It scores high on the scientific citation index and harbors top industrial players as Philips, ASML, DSM, AKZO Nobel, Shell and a host of medium and small technology driven companies. Unfortunately, as also shown by the OESO Innovation Scoreboards, the scientific and technological strength of too many of these companies is not translated into new winning products in the market. Why? There are multiple reasons why of course, ranging from entrepreneurial mind set, lack of critical mass to funding issues. A critical aspect that will be elaborated in this paper is the extent to which they are able to use their strong technology to come up with propositions that really hit the bull’s eye of important customer needs. These include unfulfilled manifest, expressed needs and hidden, unexpressed needs, as well as current dissatisfiers. Some of those companies, large and small, are strong in defining their future business position and role in the industry by combining in-depth customer understanding with their vast technology potential. However, the majority of technology-driven companies is guided too heavily by the narrow lanes of their past business, extended with their view on technological opportunities, often within their own technology domain...