Investment in R&D can have guaranteed results if the actual research and development is well rounded, on this I totally agree with you TJ. It is not just about focusing on developing the technical side of a product; you have to get down and find out what your target market actually wants through comprehensive market research or else, as Tekochip puts it, you will end up creating a rounded rectangle.
Following the money may sound like a great idea but even this is not a guarantee of profitability or significant returns. If you choose to follow the money, the key lies in the timing. Getting in too early or too late may end up taking you the way of the BlackBerry, a classical illustration of how investment in R&D does not guarantee profits just as much as following the money, if poorly timed, also does not.
I think the article sums it up nicely that it is not how much money is spent on R & D, but what the money is spent on (effectiveness of money spent). One key criteria is the voice of the customer's 'wallet'. Sometimes what customers 'say' and what they will actually 'do' are two different things. Carefully researching actual customer buying patterns and uncovering any current 'pain' they are experiencing can be very helpful in this area.
My grandfather only had a high school education but gave me advice years ago that has proven true time and time again. "ALWAYS PUT YOUR MONEY ON THE JOCKY AND NEVER THE RACE HORSE". I think companies with a balanced approach between technology, marketing and sales ultimately win the return on investment game. This truly involves having the right people in the right jobs and giving them room to create and discover.
Most successful companies today, including Apple and Nike, are really run by the marketing department. They don't get into the details of exactly what the next product looks like but they do dictate the function and desirability needed.
It would be great for everyone, if the pendulum could swing back and settle between creativity and merchandising. Designers could have the time and money needed to create unique and interesting product that consumers would buy.
How much of your R&D budget goes into useless patent applications, i.e, those that are rejected or narrowed down to the point where they have no value? In some companies that can be be as high as 20% of the total.
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