The following list represents the Key Service Objectives (KSO) for the Appleton Greene Product Management service.
Market analysis is the foundation to your current and future business success and is part of the Business Planning function. This objective focuses on the effectiveness of your market analysis process and can include: information sources and resulting inputs; key contributors to the analysis process; the actionable quality of the outputs from this effort; effective time horizon boundaries; and timely cadence of outputs. There can be numerous sections addressed in a market analysis but in most cases the following 8 are used for an effective market characterization process, each with their own inputs, analysis process, and subsequent output. First is a general market description including market state (current and anticipated), the market ecosystem that surrounds this market today and how it might evolve, market sizing methodology, and trend identification. Next is a customer attributes section including the customer problem or desire, any current solutions that are in use today, unmet needs/drivers creating the new opportunity, how customers measure solution value, customer purchase habits, and anticipated customer evolution. Typically the next section is a customer segmentation process methodology addressing commonality that can be leveraged across multiple segments, key customer expectation or capability differences between segments, segmented customer usage models, segment sizing and prioritization, anticipated common or segment trends, and customer purchase process by segment. Following segmentation is a by-segment customer’s purchase analysis describing the channels and channel attributes where these segments purchase. In most cases this involves a multi-channel analysis describing: the channel type; key accounts and their capabilities; account expectations regarding their gross margins; account planning cycles and lead times; ease-of-doing-business expectations; service levels expectations; and expectations of your predictability. Next is the analysis of any seasonality in this market and how it could affect your business regarding product launch windows, promotional timing, and any anticipated revenue fluctuations. Sixth is an analysis of outside forces that could affect your market including: technology; commodity pricing; economic conditions (e.g. is your product a necessary purchase or discretionary purchase); regulatory changes; exchange rates; etc. Next is a description of any barriers to entry that would impact your potential success in this market. Typically the final section is an analysis of potential supporting players in this market that would reduce your risks or increase your success in this market. As you can see, your market analysis provides key information to your next release of products as well as strategic inputs into your long range planning process. The output of this objective is an unbiased SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) assessment and potential corrective actions for your organization’s market analysis process. Consulting services for potential corrective actions for improving market analysis results can include: process creation or modification; policy creation or modification; creation or modification of tools, deliverables and communication flows; training delivery.
There is always competition facing your business either directly or indirectly impacting your success. If you feel you don’t have direct competitors this indicates one of two challenges for your business: does this market even exist if no one else is doing this solution (the assumption is that your market analysis does prove the existence or potential for a new solution category); or once you enter this new category, competition will not be far behind! This objective focuses on the effectiveness of your competitive analysis process, also part of the Business Planning function, and can include: information sources and resulting inputs; key contributors to the analysis process; the actionable quality of the outputs; and how the process ensures timely identification and potential responses to competitive trends and specific competitor moves. To a large extent, competitive analysis needs to be driven by how your segmented customers perceive the value of the competitor’s offering but also includes competitor business attributes that indicate their capabilities and future direction. Fortunately, in many cases, the internet has made gathering a portion of customer perceptions easier than it was in the past although these must be kept in the perspective of how qualitative versus quantitative this information really is and to deeply understand the customers’ perception of competitors requires a more holistic look than just a “vocal few”. The competitive analysis assessment can include: how effectively the analysis addresses the overall competitive landscape in your targeted market(s); the depth of understanding for the top 3 to 5 direct competitors regarding the customer experience they deliver; your analysis process of how those competitors may move forward and/or respond to competitive threats; what are your anticipated advantages over the key competitors; your process for assessing your business’ vulnerability to competitors and potential response. As with your market analysis above your competitive analysis provides key information to your next release of products as well as strategic inputs into your long range planning process. The output of this objective is an unbiased SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) assessment and potential corrective actions for your organization’s competitive analysis process. Consulting services for potential corrective actions for improving competitive analysis results can include: process creation or modification; policy creation or modification; creation or modification of tools, deliverables and communication flows; training delivery.
As a third part of the Business Planning function, the goal of the Solutions Strategy effort is to describe the “ideal” customer solution from your customer’s viewpoint. Solution Delivery, described below, uses this to determine specific products or product generations and their delivery timing. This objective focuses on the effectiveness of your solutions strategies process translating market analysis and competitive analysis results into the ideal total customer experience benefits your solution(s) should deliver and can include: information sources and resulting inputs; key contributors to the analysis process; the actionable quality of the outputs; and how the process ensures timely identification and potential responses to competitive trends and specific competitor moves. The solutions strategy assessment can include: segment selection process; completeness of your ideal customer experience specification process; business model and potential pricing analysis process; functional/organizational capabilities specification process; market readiness analysis process; opportunities and risks analysis process. The output of this objective is an unbiased SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) assessment and potential corrective actions for your organization’s solution strategies process. Consulting services for potential corrective actions for improving solution strategies can include: process creation or modification; policy creation or modification; creation or modification of tools, deliverables and communication flows; training delivery.
When is just as important as what!
Appleton Greene & Co Global – All businesses have an internal cadence typically driven by their fiscal year for business planning and other internal efforts. Fewer have a cadence for their customer-facing and channel-facing efforts that address product planning, account planning, budgeting, product launch, marketing mix strategy and tactics, and product transitions to name a few. And this externally focused cadence must be driven by customer seasonality. For FedSLED this seasonality typically is driven by fiscal years. For consumers this may be driven by holidays, calendar events (back to school, graduation) or seasons. And while overall B2B may not be as dramatic, this sector usually is not purely linear and can also see volume peaks and valleys depending on the solution category and their customers being driven by the seasonality factors listed above. So why does this matter? Having the right customer-focused cadence allows you to: maximize sales at your maximum price; preserve competitive advantage to the last possible moment; maintain sales velocity by adjusting your marketing mix to the season; actively and collaboratively capitalize on your channel’s planning and actions as they follow their targeted customer segments’ seasonality; actively manage your inventory to reduce cost-of-capital and price-protection exposure; and preserve profits during product transitions. Product management is more than a job title, it is a cross-organization discipline; and Appleton Greene’s Product Management consulting service is ready to work with you to use your customers’ seasonality to define and implement a customer-facing business cadence and processes that enables optimal product and product portfolio results.
As noted above, Services Objectives 01 – 03 above focus on the Business Planning function and how the product management function supports anticipating the target market, competitor and ideal solution evolution over time to enable your organization to proactively adapt and stay relevant to target customers. The Solution Delivery Objective is all about your product management function’s ability to translate Business Planning outputs and solution-specific tactical customer research into actionable specifications, objectives and tactics for implementation and ultimately deliver of one or more immediate total customer experience solutions, and the supporting processes, policies and actions required the across that solution’s product lifecycle enabling consistent profitable delivery. The assessment can include: cross-functional planning processes for requirements gathering and trade-offs addressing solution definition, demand generation, purchase process, solution fulfillment, and customer satisfaction; the functional capability assessment process addressing requirements, ability to deliver and gap reconciliation process; ongoing customer experience communication flows across the vertical functions; assessment of strategies and processes that ensure synchronization across the vertical functions; alignment of the solution lifecycle to customer seasonality and the enablement of optimal processes and policies by lifecycle phase; the solution transitions process (obsolescence, pre-launch and launch) for profitably migrating from solutions in the market today to coming next generation solutions; indirect channel account planning; and identification of potential gaps and “white space” breakdowns between vertical functions during solution delivery and management. The output of this objective is an unbiased SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) assessment and potential corrective actions for your organization’s solution delivery processes. Consulting services for potential corrective actions to improve solution delivery results can include: process creation or modification; policy creation or modification; creation or modification of tools, deliverables and communication flows; training delivery.
The Effective Metrics objective focuses on the use of metrics to enable consistent successful delivery of your total customer experience. It is well understood that metrics drive behavior and so establishing a correct metrics system for customer experience is critical to sustainable success. As previous discussed, customers focus on the value an organization’s solution delivers based on their perception of the experience and unfortunately customers don’t care about an organization’s internal trials, tribulations, or costs that the organization incurs in that delivery. This means that your metrics set needs to include both a well-defined set of customer-driven effectiveness metrics and a corresponding set of internal efficiency metrics for a delivering superior customer experience while maintaining or increasing your profitability. These two sets of metrics need to be tightly interlocked and ideally cascade from the customer experience set into the internal delivery efficiency set. The challenge many organizations can have with metrics can include: the customer gets “lost” in establishing metrics; the metrics didn’t evolve with changing market and customer expectations over time; metrics reporting is more of a “grab bag” set of metrics than a cascading structure to enable context and subsequent drill-down for root cause diagnosis; lack of common understanding about what the defined metric indicates and how it is calculated; lack of governance allowing metrics to devolve into a set of “be interesting to also see” meaningless metrics that mask the critical few; metrics that only present isolated snapshots versus meaningful trends; conflicting metrics that cause conflicting actions between departments or functions; lack of anticipating the behavior or side effects the metric may drive; ineffective time sampling either delivering “noise” through oversampling or through delayed sampling missing a critical emerging trend. The Effective Metrics assessment can include: are the right metrics being reported to the right audience, is the sample rate correct; are the metrics customer-driven or “noise” that distracts; are the metrics showing trends or just a snapshot that may be aberration versus developing situation; do the metrics logically cascade to enable a “drill down” to actionable root cause diagnosis and correction; are the communication flows delivering the right actionable metrics to the right audience; is there an effective governance process for metrics creation and modification; and is the right owner held accountable for a metric. The output of this objective is an unbiased SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) assessment and potential corrective actions for your organization’s effective metrics process. Consulting services for potential corrective actions to improve metrics results can include: metrics definition or redefinition, development or clarification of how the metrics cascade; metrics process creation or modification; metrics governance creation or modification; creation or modification of tools, deliverables and communication flows; training delivery.
This service is primarily available to the following industry sectors:
The goal of any for-profit business is to make money today and even more money tomorrow to meet shareholder expectations, enable investments for the future, and remain a relevant market participant. Since revenue growth is a key indicator of consistently meeting or exceeding customer expectations, ideally business strategies focus on increasing revenue while managing cost as a percent of revenue. To accomplish this, businesses look to the broad array of technology sector players for ways to significantly increase value and enable higher end customer solution price points, increase solution value at the same price for a competitive advantage, and/or reduce fixed or variable costs for the business. In addition to for-profit businesses, many technology sector businesses serve government (FedSLEd and military) and non-profit organizations either leveraging the same for-profit solutions or providing specialized solutions. As defined here, the technology sector spans from components and devices, to software tools, applications and infrastructure solutions. Additionally, many technology providers include consulting and support services required to utilize the technology delivered. The common theme for the technology sector is this is a non-consumer sector and instead purely business-to-business with attributes including: adoption driven by anticipated competitive advantage and/or cost savings; lower price sensitivity; longer and more complex sales cycles involving multiple customer decision maker roles; longer product lifecycles; potential partnering for vertical or customized solutions; a “high push” sales model utilizing direct and/or VAR sales forces actively prospecting for customers and delivering a high touch consultative purchase experience; potentially unique supply chain requirements; and a variety of service revenue opportunities (consulting, training, e-services). These attributes drive the need a very different total customer experience compared to a consumer experience starting with the need to understand both the technology customer’s desired experience and ideally the technology customer’s end customer. Additionally, technology sector businesses need to demonstrate to customers: sound business continuity capability; flexibility in meeting unique customer needs; and organizational discipline in partnering with customers on lifecycle management including product development, delivery and ongoing service and support.
Since the Technology Sector discussion above focused on business-to-business, this Electronics Sector discussion focuses on consumer information technology (PCs, printers, tablets and accessories) and entertainment devices (TVs, home theaters and Blu-ray players). Electronics Sector purchasers’ primary drivers are price points and anticipated emotional benefits delivered. In fact with consumer sales, correctly using psychological price points can drive sales volume changes resulting allowing optimization of total gross margin dollars for a product or product family. Consumer products also have fast sales cycles when compared to the B2B technology sales cycle above and rely on a consumer “pull” model where demand generation activities focus on driving customers to the point of sale (for more see Retail Sector below). This drives a critical need for brand management and collaborative category planning with channel partners. Once consumers have purchased a product, they want to get to the destination of realizing products benefits as quickly as possible; making the journey of unpack, setup, configure, and learn potential impediments to reaching the benefits and so need to be minimized and/or streamlined as much as possible as part of their experience with a product. Consumers also have more access to and share more information about products than in the past so total customer experience with a product can rapidly generate positive or negative reviews that significantly impact future sales. In the past, consumer products had fast product lifecycles, rapid price erosion, and low or no switching costs when consumers upgraded devices. However, the consumer electronics market is now seeing many products being part of a consumer’s electronic ecosystem so vendors need to pay more attention to design changes that impact the ecosystem where the product is used. An example of this is Apple switching from their 30-pin cabling to the Lightning connector. In isolation this would not have had a large impact however in the accessory ecosystem however this move obsoleted not only the extra charging cables a consumer may have purchased with a previous device but also obsoleted products that allowed docking via the 30-pin. This cabling example was a very contained example of an ecosystem impact. Taking a broader view, in the past each electronic device was a relatively isolated point product or a micro ecosystem “island” (e.g. a home entertainment center). However, going forward with the continued expansion of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, more and more consumer products are becoming part of consumers’ macro home ecosystem. Amazon, with Alexa, FireTV, and content services, and Apple, with iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, iWatch, licensing iOS to auto manufacturers, and content services, are great examples of vendors building out consumer ecosystem product lines and both are also partnering with other vendors to include home automation as part of their ecosystem plays. While fast product lifecycles are still a key success factor for electronics, the need for backwards compatibility and seamless integration into existing consumer ecosystems to protect prior consumer investments are a growing requirement. Refer to the Retail Sector discussion below regarding requirements to sell consumer products through retail.
Since consumer electronics is discussed above, the focus here is on mechanical, electro-mechanical, and electrical durable goods (>=3 year lifespan) and non-durable goods (<3 year lifespan). Both categories share an interesting history of transformation over time. Taking a very high level historic view, these consumer goods initially focused on improving basic functionality of daily life. A very few examples are: replacing manual processes (e.g. washing machines replacing doing laundry by hand in a washtub), improving effectiveness (Refrigerators replacing ice boxes), accelerating transportation (cars, trucks, railroads and aircraft replacing horse-drawn carriages and wagons). Many of these improvements could not be done standalone but instead were creative outcomes of advances in infrastructure and/or enabling technologies to produce paradigm-shifting solutions. And while history typically doesn’t exactly repeat but does tend to rhyme, many established consumer goods categories could be said to be on an evolutionary curve similar the evolution of consumer computing; i.e. driven by competitive forces, enabling technology and consumer desires. This macro evolution tends to flow along the following lines of: invention of basic functionality; functionality-oriented basic industrial design; internal technology changes for reliability; performance or cost improvements; basic controls improvements; emergence of built-in and/or aftermarket accessories to increase features; enhanced industrial design to address style, and provide alternate form factors; enhanced user experience via new enabling technology including digital input and displays. Taken in the aggregate context the impacts of these changes tend to move from macro changes to more ongoing micro refinements. A potential risk in this type of evolution is that a business can become myopic and entrench on just micro changes to existing product lines while missing a category paradigm shift that could deliver significant new growth opportunities or worse, result in the business being niched in the old paradigm of a declining market. Businesses should to try to mitigate this risk by ensuring their market analysis and competitive analysis functions scan for emerging technologies and trends that could signal a paradigm shift and include identifying potential adjacent space markets (e.g. a refrigerator manufacturer considering portfolio expansion to other kitchen durable goods categories) where they can capitalize on their brand awareness and internal competencies common to the broader category. Refer to the Retail Sector discussion below regarding requirements to sell consumer products through retail.
How retail works cannot be completely covered here so this section focuses on the consumer selling motion and channel requirements for consumer product success with electronics, consumer goods, and consumer-oriented telecom devices. Whereas B2B sales are typically real-time 1:1 complex sales interactions actively working to move customers through the purchase process, retail sales are consumer self-paced and demand generation processes are more formulaic in leading customers from initial awareness to actual purchase. The complexity of retail success resides in creating consumer demand, retail account planning and management, and predictable execution. Retail is all about understanding the desired consumer purchase experience and how effectively and efficiently vendors collaborate with retail accounts in delivering that total experience. Defining channel and account strategies for retail requires an understanding where targeted consumer segments prefer to buy, and the shared and unique experience requirements. Brick and mortar requirements can vary further based on their category types that include: national retail, regional retail, membership warehouses, mass merchants, specialty stores, and even embedded brand stores (Apple, Magnolia Design Centers and cell phone carriers in Best Buy for example), within a more general store format. Generally brick and mortar shopping delivers: a social experience (hopefully a good experience); the ability to touch and see some products in use; the potential for some level of knowledgeable sales person; and instant gratification of leaving with the product in hand. However some downsides for brick and mortar can include: brick and mortar’s reliance on foot traffic driving potentially expensive geographic coverage, balancing staffing expense with consumer desired service levels, inventory logistics and balancing, shrinkage (theft both out the front and potentially back door), unanticipated low velocity and/or low volume products taking valuable floor space, and the emergence of e-tailers (online retail) like Amazon increasing price competition and the risk of “showcasing” where consumers go to the store to see products but buy online. E-tailers and traditional brick and mortar accounts that have added e-tailing capabilities have the advantage over pure brick and mortar retailers of: zero incremental cost for geographic coverage; the ability to provide more immediate product information and consumers reviews; the ability to more easily track their individual consumer’s browsing and purchase patterns to enable and push tailored offers to registered customers; are in essence open 24/7; and can add, delete or reset their product offerings and pricing much more rapidly than a physical store. Beyond the essential efforts of triggering consumer demand for their retail products, vendors in the retail space not only need to provide quality products but also must have a high degree of operational excellence to meet retail channel needs profitably. The operational excellence required can include: developing a clear channel coverage strategy and associated ROI by retail account; meeting account-internal deliverables required for product set up and ongoing communications including potential Electronic Data Interchange requirements; clear decisions regarding potential needs for product derivatives and/or Minimum Advertised Pricing policies and enforcement mechanisms to minimize price erosion driven by competing retail accounts; understanding and delivering on in-store placement and display requirements; meeting lead times for advertising and promotions; matching internal planning cadence and processes to retails’ long-lead planning cycles; understanding price discounts and other costs of doing business with an account; matching internal metrics to the account scorecards and policies; matching internal functional contacts to corresponding account functions; stringent inventory management and product transition processes to match account service level agreements; collaborative product planning, launch planning, and roadmaps for future products; meeting account packaging specifications while maintaining the key role packaging plays in the consumer purchase decision; and knowing which accounts are capable of participating in emerging category products versus only capable of success with well-known products.
With the pervasive connectivity provided by broadband over T1, cable, DSL, fiber optics or satellite, cellular networks, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, telecommunications spans both business and consumer markets. Telecom products, driven by industry-defined standards, seamlessly integrate into network infrastructures to provide reliable communication and data transfer between various systems and devices on a network. Telecom can be segmented into 3 markets consisting of business, home environments and mobile environments. Business continuity is mission-critical so businesses tend to use 99.9% up-time as baseline expectation for their telecom infrastructure metric since any downtime can result in losses scaling from relatively minor (lost productivity) to catastrophic (lost revenue or data). Utilizing the B2B sales cycle discussed in the Technology Sector above, telecom vendors and/or system integrators need to: demonstrate the robustness of proposed solutions including environmental tolerances and mean time between failure (MTBF) projections for systems and subsystems; meet design requirements including hardware and software security methodologies and solutions; ensure implementation of required redundancy and reliable fail-over capabilities; provide design and implementation support services either directly or through certified 3rd parties; provide overall training on the final implementation; and offer infrastructure management options utilizing in-house resources or qualified outsourced resources trained in managing the components and systems in use. Additionally, businesses typically require these management and repair resources be on-call 24x7x365 and may even require prepositioning of spare components or systems to minimize time lost in replacement logistics. Fortunately home-based telecom environments, using an ISP modem and Wi-Fi in-home connectivity for internet, content streaming services and gaming, are not defined as mission-critical but consumers do expect it all to “just work”. And since it would be cost prohibitive for consumers to employ redundancy and infrastructure management specialists, consumers tend to tolerate some failures as long as the environment self-recovers or, worst case, it is easy for the owner to diagnose and manually recover connectivity. These expectations require consumer telecom vendors to deliver typically sub $100 devices that are easily understood in the retail purchase process, easy to set up and configure, and require minimal or no intervention when in use. Unfortunately for the consumer, there is still a ways to go for vendors to meet these expectations so households need at least one reasonably tech-savvy in the family that hopefully will not be leaving for college or moving out before sharing their understanding of the home’s environment. Lastly, the mobility segment provides connectivity for business users and consumers almost anywhere via carrier networks and private or public Wi-Fi hot spots. For consumers this is enabling a paradigm shift to personalizing communication and one side effect be the diminishing desire for land-line phones into the home. For business, the paradigm shift can include but is not limited to: the enabling of geographically dispersed workforces beyond just corporate owned satellite offices; supporting remote sales and or service representatives through electronic information access; and enabling real-time factory, warehouse, route sales and delivery service tracking data. The business challenges with both workforce dispersal and mobilization of sales and service are providing robust and secure access to the corporate infrastructure and the increasing complexity of remote management and support of a wide array of phones, tablets, computers, and tracking devices that most likely are not all using the same operating system or operating system version.
Monthly cost: USD $1,000.00
Time limit: 5 hours per month
Contract period: 12 months
Bronze service includes:
01. Email support
02. Telephone support
03. Questions & answers
04. Professional advice
05. Communication management
The Bronze Client Service (BCS) for Product Management provides clients with an entry level option and enables client contacts to become personally acquainted with Mr. Lumb over a sustainable period of time. We suggest that clients allocate up to a maximum of 5 Key Employees for this service. Your Key Employees can then contact the consultant via email, whenever they feel that they need specific advice or support in relation to the consultant’s specialist subject. The consultant will also be proactive about opening and maintaining communications with your Key Employees. Your Key Employees can list and number any questions that they would like to ask and they will then receive specific answers to each and every query that they may have. Your Key Employees can then retain these communications on file for future reference. General support inquiries will usually receive replies within 48 hours, but please allow a period of up to 10 business days during busy periods. The Bronze Client Service (BCS) enables your Key Employees to get to know their designated Appleton Greene consultant and to benefit from the consultant’s specialist skills, knowledge and experience.