More and more businesses are now embracing an Agile approach to product innovation. This means a design, develop, test, and review process.
What’s the main difference with Agile? In a nutshell – data-driven decision making.
This, combined with an increased emphasis on the process, frequency and flexibility of testing and commitment to such principles, is what makes an Agile approach so successful.
An increasing number of companies, whether that’s growing small-medium sized ones, or multinational ones, are adopting such an approach – and it’s time more followed to improve product outcomes for all.
Why? The Benefits of Agile Summarised
Simply put, Agile means you can create better products, faster.
The proven benefits of Agile, over traditional methods of product development, include bringing important new products to market quicker, increasing consumer appeal and reducing failure – meaning reduced wastage, and increased ROI.
Choosing Agile significantly lowers cost compared to alternative methods and leads to better results for the consumer and the business.
Not to mention…
- Reduced Project Risk
- Increased Team Morale And Motivation
- Improved Overall Team Productivity
- Less Time Wasted in Stalemates and Never-ending Discussions
- Ability To Manage Changing Priorities
How Does Agile Lead to All These Benefits?
Agile relies on high frequency, iterative improvement, encouraging flexibility and quick responses to validated feedback, so companies can optimise ideas before they become a potentially expensive reality.
It is all about building, measuring, and learning.
“Build, measure, learn” is one of the key principles in Agile. It is the ability to test everything at a very granular level, repeatedly, throughout the process. Small micro-changes can rapidly be prototyped digitally and tested without incurring the cost of physical development. Only propositions or elements of the proposition, that pass the acceptability level can progress through to form the final product specification.
This testing is conducted with your consumers – the end users of your products, and crucially, the ones that decide whether your product thrives on the shelves or not. By placing the consumer at the heart of product development, all the decisions and assumptions throughout your development process will be tested to ensure you build what they would buy.
This high frequency, low-cost real-time testing for every constituent part of a new product, means you can make small iterative improvements to refine the best idea. It’s only by testing every assumption and proposal, quickly and inexpensively, that you focus investment this closely, with the goal to only make what consumers will buy.
This eliminates waste in the product development cycle as it informs a clearer and more confident brief, as well as eliminating opinion from discussions of what should or should not be developed further. Crucially, it allows elimination of the long tail of distracting concepts that should never see the light of day, far earlier in the process than they historically would be.
A Better Process – Guided Development instead of Guesses
Agile Innovation is about solving problems together by testing with consumers, not implementing features individually, inconsiderate of consumer intent.
Products are defined and designed collaboratively, not sequentially. Product, design, technical and commercial stakeholders work side by side to come up with proposals that are then tested with consumers to find out if they love them.
By testing every assumption in the product development process with your consumers, you’ll be able to identify and remove every proposal that simply won’t make it, as early as possible. This means you reduce cost, minimise wasted investment, and focus on developing only top, winning concepts.
This all means…
- Agile development improves consumer satisfaction, because it motivates you to adapt and respond to consumers’ priorities – leading you to make what will sell, not sell what you make
- Agile thinking improves productivity and employee happiness, by increasing product flow, meaning disruptions and blockers are quickly identified, and your team can actively focus on what’s important and spend less time debating ideas
- Agile principles lead to up to three times as much product success compared to a more traditional approach, by removing much of the long tail of weak product concepts – leading to a massive impact on margin. In many industries Agile methods have boosted average success rates from 11% to 39%.
By refining new products and introducing consumer validation right through your process, you will begin to see new product failures fall to 0%. In doing so, your cost of innovation falls, and your return on investment increases massively, which in turn makes sustained growth through real innovation a reality for you.
These benefits are astounding, and perhaps the key factor behind all of this, is the fact that data is driving decisions.
The Importance of Data
New product development has often been based on unproven assumptions, gut feelings, or history. Surprisingly, current innovation processes in Consumer Goods use very little consumer data to make important product decisions – concept testing with consumers has occurred infrequently, if at all.
This huge lack of validation continues to fuel the disconcerting 90% failure rate found in this sector.
It’s not hard to see why – the number one challenge when developing products has been to reliably predict what consumers want to buy. Traditional testing and validation using methods like physical focus groups are expensive to run and slow to deliver results – plus they only really represent a small sample of the population.
In short, data has always been expensive and hard to get!
As a result, data has been ignored in order to maintain progress and reduce costs. This has led to a product development pipeline with too many proposals running at once.
The hope? That some products would resonate by the time they reached the shelf – turning teams into gamblers hoping for a big win, instead of scientists with a good testing tool and hypothesis, empirically moving through a process.
Adopting a scientific approach of continuous validation through the collection of evidence – in Vypr’s case real-time predictive consumer insights – to highlight which products will succeed before they are produced, represents a huge shift away from potentially disastrous decisions.
In this Agile World, Data is King.
Technology and consumer insight, when applied well, have been proven to have a transformative effect on the innovation process and crucially the outcome – that’s what really drives Agile Innovation.
Thankfully, Consumer Goods brands and manufacturers are increasingly adopting new digital research tools such as Vypr to increase the speed and reduce the cost of testing. On-demand, predictive consumer data is readily achieved through these, and these insights are transforming NPD outcomes by removing the barriers to best practice.
You Don’t Have to Be Afraid of Data!
Perhaps the word ‘data’ makes you feel apprehensive – after all, we hear about how it can ‘revolutionise’ almost everything, yet explanations on how to go about using it correctly are often filled with complicated jargon.
Don’t fear – you can now find out exactly how to effectively use different types of data at different stages of the innovation cycle, in a session with Agile Innovation Playbook authors, Bill Harte and Ben Davies, at our upcoming Agile Innovation Summit.
At the event you’ll also hear more about Agile Innovation, from industry experts at organisations such as GSK and Ella’s Kitchen. Register for free now.
This event will be the start of a series of events exploring the bleeding edge of approaches to product innovation. Come and be a part of the movement to drive this discipline forward.