Trilogy Logo Trilogy Tidings
 June 2018
in this issue
     You probably don't call it that. But if you live in the C-suite, or close to it, I'll bet you spend a considerable slice of each day in a search for business wisdom. It's a worthy, albeit challenging, gig.

     I explain. Then I rant on consumer apps.


Developing Insight: The Role of Personal Interactions

Developing insight about their economic prospects generally is a critical responsibility of all businesses, especially their leadership teams. However, insight is not data, no matter how big. Insight is real understanding of opportunities, economic prospects, and threats. Dare I say it: Ultimately, insight is wisdom!

There's a constant need to refine and explore the most appropriate processes for generating business insight. Hence, the never-abating market research literature that describes and evaluates all manner of techniques for teasing out insight - often in excruciating detail! But here's the reality: There are really only five fundamental, proven processes - literature reviews, surveys, phone interviews, personal interviews, and focus groups/panels. And they all have their place.
The point I want to make is that there is sometimes no substitute for personal interactions, i.e. personal interviews and focus groups/panels. Other techniques are often easier to arrange, inevitably less expensive, and often adequate to the mission at hand if the goal is to acquire data. When the goal is to inspire insight, there's something powerful about talking directly with others, when visual and vocal nuances are shared and respondents reveal their reactions in full detail. Personal interactions are best suited to understand the 'why' behind the 'what'.
Developing insight about the likely future prospects of potential new products and services is a large part of what we do. To support my point I share a summary of one consulting engagement dealing with opportunity assessment in the field of point-of-care patient assessment.
Ours was a five-step project that included a literature review, an online survey, phone interviews, and expert panels. Only during the final step, roundtable discussions including relevant medical experts, did we establish two new findings: (1) some additional clinical applications were worthy of pursuit, and (2) several serious impediments to product adoption were created by the lack of a full understanding of how the proposed product measured what was claimed. Full, personal, interactive discussions among the experts made all the difference.

Insight Contributions
Your computer and your phone are both tempting tools. Don't sell personal interactions short; they can be critically important in your search for insight.
What's behind all the feeble new products?
John Harris hit the nail on the head in his The Guardian piece: " Ignore the hype over big tech. It's products are mostly useless." Have a look at all the apps available through Apple and Google. What fraction of those do you think might be truly useful? Which of those would you actually download and use, even at no cost?

OK, I understand that the overwhelming number of such apps are independently developed, so 'big tech' cannot be blamed for their existence. But think about all the apps actually being developed and released by A/G/M (Apple/Google/Microsoft), some of which are identified by Harris. Would you find any of them useful? How many of those might you actually purchase this year?

Here's my theory: Consumer apps are just too easy to develop and roll out. There's little consequence of commercial failure. The classical product development process, Imagine --> Build -->Test --> Refine --> Try Again, is generally not followed. There are few if any regulatory requirements.

You might say that's no big deal. After all, who gets hurt? Well, consider if those innovation and development resources were re-allocated to the invention and development of a few products that solve real,  important, human problems. That would be nice, no?     
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ContactInfoJoseph J. Kalinowski, Principal