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What is product innovation and why is it important?


The Team at CallMiner

December 27, 2022

Product innovation
Product innovation

Innovation fuels a great many human endeavors, gradually improving our ability to get things done with less effort and in less time. New product innovation is especially important for new ways of working, living and coexisting. Here, we'll cover the value of product innovation and new product development, and how it all works, including:

The two main types of product development: radical and incremental

The two key phases in product development: research and development

How leveraging product intelligence can help you quickly test, gather feedback, and iterate products while lowering costs and reducing risk

…and more

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Before we get into the detailed aspects of product innovation and best practices for getting it right, let’s review the definition of product innovation.

Definition of product innovation

Product innovation is the process of creating a product that addresses key needs among consumers in intuitive, understandable ways by using advanced technology or design improvements. Innovation with products is all about solving problems that people face in clever ways. This creates new opportunities for the businesses that succeed and can often result in the formation of entirely new industries as well.

Types of product innovation

Product innovation comes in more than one form. Both incremental innovation and radical innovation are legitimate variations on the phenomenon. These concepts are similar in that they both revolve around the creation of something new and unique, but they differ by the degree of uniqueness involved.

Radical innovation

Radical innovation results in the development of completely new products, hence the 'radical' bit in the name. This is the type of innovation that companies like Apple engaged in to come up with their flagship iPod and iPhone products.

This form of innovation can be risky as it involves not only trying out new things in an emerging market, but often also creating said market from scratch as nothing quite like it exists. This means potential customers and revenue projections may be a mystery at launch.

Conversation intelligence solutions like CallMiner can fuel your new product development strategy by leveraging AI and machine learning to provide a continuous product feedback loop. Continuous feedback from your target consumers makes it possible to test and introduce new products and improve on your existing products, all while mitigating risks and costs.

Incremental innovation

Incremental innovation is less overtly risky than the radical variety as no truly novel product needs to be made, but it carries its own risks as well. Through incremental innovation, businesses attempt to improve upon existing products in such a way that their own product can appeal to customers on the basis of cost, functionality, comfort, etc.

Of course, entering an established market takes much of the guesswork out of identifying business viability concerns, but it can also mean facing steep competition from current industry titans with highly developed offerings.

CallMiner enables you to leverage customer feedback on a continuous loop and rapidly iterate in response, creating a data-driven product development process that’s laser-focused on your target customers’ needs, wants, and preferences. CallMiner doesn’t just talk the talk; the company also walks the walk, leveraging customer feedback to drive continuous product innovation and build a product that meets customers’ needs and is always getting better.

How product innovation works

Many assert that product innovation is carried out in a series of distinct phases. The exact number of steps needed to innovate with novel products is debatable, but at least two unique stages can quickly be identified, including:

The research stage

This stage involves all manner of research relating to the product in question, from what its potential customers are looking for in such a product to whether or not its features can be developed within a reasonable period of time.

It is also of vital importance that companies engage in testing the proposed product's actual feasibility at market. In practice, this means they must take into account all of the legal barriers to bringing such a product into existence, as well as determine whether or not funding avenues exist to get the product from the idea phase to a finalized, marketable form.

The development stage

In the product development stage, the product is actually created and carefully tested and adjusted until it is suitable for release to the public.

Generally, a prototype or minimum viable product is drafted first to push it out to potential customers. This allows businesses to gauge actual interest in the product and get valuable feedback from target customers before it is completed, potentially saving a substantial sum on development resources should the product prove to be a flop.

It is important to note that although there is certainly a distinct 'research' stage of product innovation, a considerable amount of research is performed as development progresses, yielding results that can sway product designers' opinions on what features make the cut for inclusion in the final product.

Getting product innovation right

To make the most of product innovation as a process and a strategic decision for your business's future you should consider the following:

It may help to separate truly disruptive endeavors into standalone business entities. This gives teams allocated to such entities the freedom to work unencumbered by your existing processes and standards in your parent company.

You should always align your innovative ideas with real needs and desires spotted out 'in the wild'.

It helps to focus on areas in which you have some expertise and can develop a high-quality product.

Leverage a product intelligence solution like CallMiner to gain valuable customer insights throughout the entire product planning and development process to test and fine-tune your products and reduce risk.

Why does product innovation matter?

Product innovation is hugely important to society as a whole. New solutions to problems can completely revolutionize people's lives, leading to widespread improvements to life quality across diverse demographics.

From the toaster to the paperclip, all of the products, large and small, that we take for granted are borne of innovation of some kind. Without product innovation, the technological marvels of the 21st century as well as all of the products developed throughout the rest of human history wouldn't be around to make our lives easier today.

Whether you’re developing brand new products or making incremental improvements to your existing products, product innovation is all about thinking ahead. Humanity's future tools and services are conceived of well in advance through deliberate product innovation practices and strategies, including comprehensive research, testing, gathering continuous feedback, and making continuous improvements to create a product that perfectly meets customers’ needs.

Speech & Conversation Analytics Executive Intelligence North America EMEA Customer Experience