Democratization of new product development promises to fulfill the real needs of end users…
When was the last time you found a product at a store that exactly fulfilled your needs? We always make compromises when selecting a product, because none of them was ever designed to fulfill the needs of a single individual. The conventional approach is to develop a new product with a set of functional requirements that are common to largest population of users. This is necessary to realize the economies of scale, so that the product can be sold to largest number of users at an affordable price and a hefty profit for the manufacturer, although the product will not fulfill the entire expected functional requirements for any single user.
Guess what, who is at the receiving end? Users like you and me! If you even make an attempt to ask the product manufacturer for a customized version of the product, you get pushed back by the hefty price to develop a version of the product, that is designed just for you.
There is light at the end of tunnel though, because of the way innovation and new product development is being transformed. This has been enabled largely by the way end users can communicate and share knowledge with each other over the web and through social media, and therefore drive the development of new products in the desired direction.
The trend towards democratized new product development is most noticeable in software and information products and is driven by open source communities of developers, innovators and end users, who are not satisfied with what commercial products have to offer for the masses. They contribute their skills, time and effort to create sensible products, and share their innovations for free.
Did you ever have a chance to build a personal computer from ground up, load it with an open source operating system, such as Fedora or Ubuntu, and install open source productivity applications, such as Open Office? Try it at least once and you will never forget the satisfaction derived from building a product that fulfills all your expectations and functional requirements.
Well, the point here is that the products, software as well as physical, can be made more useful by democratizing their development. The product manufacturers, who are aware of this trend, will ensure their own long term survival by exploiting the trend for the common good. A good example of how some manufacturers facilitate user innovation is by providing tool kits for the development of prototypes for new products.
As it seems, the domain of new and innovative product development, that was until now restricted to shining corporate R&D centers, is now expected to include the democratized user community, that will drive the functional requirements for any new product. The synergy between the corporations and the end users, by way of democratized new product development is sure to promote common good.
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