Only a few years ago, two to three years was an acceptable time frame for getting a new product to market. Advances in technology, particularly the Internet, have reduced that lead time considerably. A slip of a few months in introducing the right product to market can make the difference between profit and loss, particularly in the fast-paced, highly competitive world of technology products.
"In these Internet times, we need speed and quality," says Michael Krauss, partner and chief marketing officer for Chicago-based Diamond Technology Partners, a consulting firm that helps large companies develop Web businesses. "So what marketers need is a tool set that helps them move quickly and with quality to develop products and services."
From conception through product introduction, there are several places where product development hits time-delaying snags, according to Krauss. "The problem is in real-time collaboration. What we're all trying to do in product development is make sure that we're early to market with a good quality product and that the product meets customer needs."
Marketing automation tools can help speed the time to market for new products by facilitating the communication between product marketers, developers and anyone else in a company who would enable incorporating changes from different ongoing marketing tests and making product changes on-the-fly.
ProductMarketing.com, Austin, Texas, offers a browser-based solution, Accolades, which provides real-time storage of product information such as development status, marketing test results and any problems. ProductMarketing.com expects to roll out additional products to provide an end-to-end solution that would help facilitate product development from conceptualization all the way through actual sales. Other companies are expected to launch competing products, said
Sam Clark, senior research analyst with Meta Group's application delivery strategy service based in stamford, Conn.
Some companies try to solve the problem through customer contact information gathered at the call center. But that solution is still too slow in many instances because it results in numerous e-mail threads trying to capture whether different specs are approved as product marketers work with developers.
"What companies are looking for right now is a way to speed up that process so that they can coordinate the gathering of specs from the market and deliver it all the way through," Clark said. "It's a process efficiency issue, not necessarily a content organization issue, though they are intimately related. There's definitely a need," Clark said.
John Corrigan, vice president of marketing for ProductMarketing.com, sees unlimited potential for this market. The company already has contracts with Cisco and a number of other companies. "While there is a demand for this, it is not considered a deal-breaker for a CRM application," Clark said. "But I think there's a lot of value having this in the CRM side of the house."