Using real-time insight to inform real-world innovation.

18th September 2013 by Felix Jackson

Real-time insights ensure that you make the right decisions to launch your innovative project ready for the real world. Before embarking on an innovation project, it is important to understand if the idea is genuinely needed by the intended customers.

You need to clearly answer the questions: ‘What is the problem we are trying to solve?’ and ‘How does our idea actually solve this problem?’ Genuine customer insights must inform the answer to both these key strategic questions. But deciding what to do is more complex than just asking your customers because, as Henry Ford never said, ‘If I asked them what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse’.

In other words, customers often can’t precisely articulate either the problem or the best solution. Therefore, insights will only inform your decision-making, the decisions won’t be made for you.

So what can you do to ensure you make the right decisions?

From the beginning, you should bring together an expert team to interpret customer insights. They will help you truly understand the problems faced by your customers and the best solutions. You must also consider how this team can capture insights throughout the project, from project definition through design, development, implementation, measurement and maintenance. You will then be able to test ideas as you have them and get detailed customer feedback on critical features while you’re developing them.

Therefore, ongoing insight collection ensures that your innovation project follows the real world as it develops rather than departing far from it! Traditional face-to-face research methods, such as advisory boards and focus groups, are excellent ways to collect insights but are usually done too infrequently to assist with day-to-day decision-making. They are simply too expensive, complex and time-consuming to run every week.

medBoards enable real-time collaboration

Digital technology now offers new ways to collect customer insights day-to-day. You can run advisory boards or market research focus groups online with no need to wait for a date when everyone can be physically in the same room.

For example, you can run a medBoard with a group of customers to ask them questions whenever you need to make a key decision, such as selecting the best logo or defining which search filters are needed. Their input will be invaluable in helping you make the right choice.

A medBoard is different from a virtual ad board or focus group because it works like a discussion forum or instant message chat. You don’t have to get everyone online at the same time, you just ask a question, the participants are notified via email and they login to give their answer securely. You can get responses to your questions in minutes rather than weeks.

medBoards can be run in the same way as an advisory board (participants identities are known) or a market research focus group (participants remain anonymous). Advisory boards are more complex to setup and run, but you can select the participants.

Market research focus groups are simpler to setup but you won’t know who is responding to the questions. A good idea is to set up the research as a series of medBoards so you can do participant selection, contracting and payments once, leaving time for you to concentrate on the questions you need to get answered.

You will also be able to adapt your questions over the series as new information becomes available. If you are interested in running a medBoard or any other digital project, just get in touch with medDigital. We know we can help you make your project a success.