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'Public Relations Campaign' and Technology

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An organization is planning to introduce a new product in another country. What are the technology considerations, and the strategies to evaluate the effectiveness of the "Public Relations Campaign"?

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1. An organization is planning to introduce a new product in another country, what are the technology considerations?

Different authors define technology differently. Some refer specifically to software applications, whereas other authors refer to technology more broadly, and include such things as ways to meet objectives through means such as Internal R&D, licensing, patenting, knowing the competition, open communication, to name a few.

Let's look at both these views.
1. Technology driven models - These are particularly relevant to software diffusion of new product into another country. For example, the rate of acceptance of technology is determined by factors such as ease of use and usefulness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_(business)
2. Product-line manufacturers need a continuing flow of new products. You need new products for corporate growth. You need at least some new products just for survival; product life cycles are getting shorter all the time. Another authors defines technology in a broader way and argues that there are only three technologies that new products can come from:
• Internal R&D - you hire employees to develop them yourself.
• Corporate Acquisitions - you buy other companies and add their products to yours.
• Licensing - you license products, developed by outside individuals and companies, that you're in a better position to manufacture and sell than they are.
Historically, this has been the order in which new products resulted. Most came from internal R&D, fewer came from acquisitions, fewer yet came from licensing. However, changes during the past 30 years are challenging this order. (1)
Internal R&D
The costs of internal R&D have soared with inflation, with no end in sight. In the '50s, a manufacturer doing $2-4 million annual sales could easily afford the internal R&D required for its survival and growth. Today, a manufacturer doing $20-40 million annual sales is hard pressed to afford that level of R&D. Internal R&D has never been terribly efficient. Battelle Institute in a report a few years ago estimated that only about 20% of U.S. corporate R&D dollars resulted in products that were successful in the marketplace. There's been much verbiage and advice the past few years on how to increase the efficiency of our R&D. But the bottom line is that these offer only incremental improvements swimming against a tide of increasing costs. Even with significant improvements in efficiency, it's obvious that internal R&D can no longer be counted on as the primary source of new products for the vast majority of manufacturers. (1)
Corporate Acquisitions
The corporate acquisitions picture isn't much better. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, about a third of all acquisitions turn out to be outright failures, and over 70% fail to meet expectations. Corporate acquisitions involve much more than the simple acquisition of products. They come with people -- and corporate cultures -- that somehow have to be blended into an operating entity, with hoped for synergy. That this isn't an easy problem is evidenced by the record. Those that seem to do it successfully (e.g., Masco, JP Industries, etc.) are extraordinarily good people managers. They allow their acquisitions exceptional autonomy, resist the urge to "blend" the operations, and look for synergy primarily in capital formation and utilization, building related sales to levels that can better afford adequate internal R&D. Unless a manufacturer has this level of management skill and maturity -- and it's clear that most don't -- corporate acquisitions are not an answer to manufacturers' new product needs. (1)
Licensing
That leaves licensing. This has been an under-utilized source of new products. Yet, today, it probably offers the only hope for survival of the small and medium-size product-line manufacturer, and has become a competitive necessity for the larger manufacturer. Consider what the Japanese have done, and continue to do, to our large manufacturers through licensing -- of our own technologies. When two companies (of whatever size) compete, and one seeks out new ideas and products wherever it can find them -- and the other believes that the only "smart" people work for it -- it should be obvious who will win. American manufacturers need to take a much harder look at licensing. They need to actively seek out new products and technology, and by "actively" I mean much more than what even the "aware" companies are currently doing. Assigning someone, in or associated with the company, to look for new products is a step in the right direction. But it's not nearly enough. What's needed is for manufacturers to communicate -- disseminate -- their "wish lists". Every product-line manufacturer has a wish list, formal or informal. (1)
These lists consist of technological problems (or deficiencies or objectives) that if they had solutions to:
• Know the competition. The company could achieve significant competitive advantage in their market. But manufacturers keep these lists "top secret". Heaven forbid they let their competitors know what they're working on, or what they're planning, or what they consider important! But, of course, their competitors do know. Being in the same business, they've compiled much the same list, and if they want confirmation of the other's list, or explore what subtle differences might exist, they simply hire one of the competitor's marketing or engineering managers (excerpted from http://tenonline.org/art/9004.html).
• The people who don't know are the thousands of outside inventors and innovators -- individuals and small companies -- who could well come up with solutions to these problems -- using their own resources -- if they knew the need existed and someone was interested. We see dozens of inventions that people have invested a great deal of their time and money in -- based on their perception of market needs. But the people who really know the needs of those markets -- the companies actively doing business in them -- keep their mouths shut, and effectively tell the outside world, "If you want to guess what we need, we may talk with you". What a waste! This is NOT an attitude destined to maintain this country as a world-class competitor. It is recognized that there are serious legal liability problems to be solved to affect this kind of open communication. But law, like everything else, follows need. And there's a real, live, urgent need here. This country's economic vitality is at stake, and the solution is legal -- not engineering nor scientific (excerpted from http://tenonline.org/art/9004.html).

Patents (http://tenonline.org/art/9409.html)
• What about a patent? If you're thinking that companies might go looking through issued patents to find new products -- they don't. The only reason they look through issued patents is to find "prior art" (i.e., already patented features and methods) that they must design around in the development of their own new products.
• Does that mean that patents are a waste of time and money? Generally, "yes". What good will a patent do you if your idea proves not licensable for any of the reasons above? A patent will cost you several thousand dollars -- and your risk/reward ratio ...

Solution Summary

An organization is planning to introduce a new product in another country. This solution examines the technology considerations and the strategies to evaluate the effectiveness of the 'Public Relations Campaign.' Examples are provided, including an example of an effective 'Public Relations Campaign.'

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