Blog archive - June 2012
Use the blog to discuss and comment on the latest industry insights provided by our analyst experts.
by Jannette Whippy 28 Jun 2012
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Inspiration hits at the strangest times: morning walks with my greyhound, a quiet moment sipping wine, or a busy and hectic day of running errands. It turns out solutions come more easily when I stop thinking about the problem. However, a key component of my ability to visualize solutions is having an understanding of the broader view. Telling someone else’s story can be challenging. As a designer of Best Practice Guidebooks, I am not involved in the primary research and robust storyboard discussions required to create our guidebooks. When a guidebook is passed to me the researcher must explain everything, in extreme detail and I am responsible for visualizing the story. However, I often find the details distracting and, while it is good to have them, I need the big picture. Working with researchers who have a superior understanding of the subject manner and are able to step back and explain the overall view helps me to create meaningful structures and visuals. When I step back from the details, clarity often ensues. Understanding the big picture helps me to better visualize graphical solutions to complex ideas. Once I design the concept, the details tend to slip into place within the larger, coheseive structure. Visualizing text can make presentations more interesting and help your audience grasp the core concept quickly. If you are looking to make your work more visual, more exciting, details are nice to have but if you don’t understand how they all work together, visualizing your text will not be easy. Take a step back from your page and think about what you are trying to communicate.
by Austin Pullmann 22 Jun 2012
It’s always nice to have your work enjoyed and shared by others. This is a primary reason for getting excited about my job, which is to document best practices executed by companies against a variety of challenges. Recently we created an infographic to tell the story of our research that covers a variety of approaches to leveraging social media effectively, entitled “Mastering the Social Media Universe” – for the record I came up with that title while sitting in a fast food restaurant with my kids. :) See a pasted version below: [INFOGRAPHIC] Mastering the Social Media Universe View more documents from Frost & Sullivan So I mentioned that this infographic has been shared far and wide. Indeed, it has been retweeted and posted in various blogs, dissected and interpreted. All of this is great news in that we were able to connect with others using this visual format, and address challenges that others are commonly facing. Wonderful. As in many aspects of social media, the benefit generated is simultaneously hard to dispute, yet hard to calculate. Wouldn’t it be great to know how this research materially changed the thinking of the reader, and by extension generated value for that reader’s business? We would love to know. So now’s your chance – reach out to us with any kind of feedback, positive or negative on how the infographic has influenced your thinking. We will welcome it with open arms! Kudos to our graphic designer, Jannette Whippy, who is the artistic genius behind this infographic. Austin Pullmann Austin is the North American Program Manager for the Growth Team Membership, a best practices research group within Frost & Sullivan.
by Holly Lyke Ho Gland 21 Jun 2012
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The survey reveals that R&D executives in Asia Pacific are focused on challenges surrounding two topics: (1) managing the product portfolio and (2) integrating inputs from an array of sources outside of R&D. In regards to the first topic, R&D executives are struggling to generate an accurate technology map—that outlines customer needs, the current technology landscape, and gaps. Developing an accurate technology map is the first step to addressing R&D’s other portfolio management challenges—prioritizing and funding projects within the portfolio. A technology roadmap allows R&D executives to develop a portfolio strategy—that pinpoints which needs match company capabilities for development. Furthermore a formal portfolio strategy is necessary for an effective portfolio management process and measuring project ROI. Customer-facing functions such as Sales and Marketing are a rich source of innovation information on everything from customer needs to feedback on current products. However, R&D executives struggle with establishing a method to consistently capture and integrate this information with their product development process. Some solutions to this dilemma include establishing regular cross-functional exchanges of ideas, or interacting with customers directly—via crowdsourcing or a formal open innovation process. To examine these challenges in more depth, the survey asked respondents to “root cause” their top challenges by indicating if they stem from issues with staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. R&D executives attribute their challenges to two causes: limitations in staffing and processes. Fortuitously R&D executes foresee additional resources to address their challenges—both staffing and budgets are expected to increase. In view of open innovation’s (OI) growing prominence and potential to systematically capture ideas from a broad network, the survey asked respondents about their use of OI. The majority of respondents include OI in their product development processes. Open innovation is largely employed for idea generation and concept testing and customers are the primary source of ideas. Most of the respondents have a dedicated OI team within R&D. Even though companies are committed to using OI—a concept that is founded on tapping into multiple sources for ideas—respondents still cite struggles with gathering and integrating insights from Sales and Marketing and customers. This may be attributed to respondents’ challenges with the fundamentals of establishing an OI program: overcoming the fear of lost IP, establishing a framework for collaboration, and garnering the resources needed to test incoming ideas and technologies. 2012 APAC Portfolio Management and Open Collaboration View more presentations from Frost & Sullivan
by Holly Lyke Ho Gland 12 Jun 2012
One of my roles in my household is mediator between my son and husband. Like many a father and son, they are so much alike that sparks fly on a fairly regular basis. Not surprisingly, nine times out ten, their frustrations stem from a lack of communication. Needless to say, pointing this out results in an emphatic eye roll from my son and gruff sigh from my husband. However, once they do talk, there is peace in the house for at least 24 hours. So what does this have to do with business? Part of my job is to conduct annual priorities surveys, to pinpoint role-related challenges for executives in Marketing, R&D, Corporate Strategy and Development, Market Research, Competitive Intelligence, and Sales. Some challenges that come up year after year include: How do we get buy-in at all levels of the company for strategy adoption? What’s the best way to get support for that promising innovation? How can we get the strategy team to integrate our insights into the annual planning process? Why won’t Sales use the collateral we developed? Any of these sound familiar? In addition to picking their top challenges, the surveys also ask respondents to pinpoint the root cause of each challenge. In addition to limited resources, there are three recurring culprits—ineffective processes, a lack of common objectives, and inadequate communications. Another key part of my job involves creating best-in-class case studies (Best Practice Guidebooks) that address the challenges identified in the surveys. In almost every case study our team produces, the best practices require developing communication mechanisms—to generate buy-in, break down silos, tap into out of the box ideas, and create transparency and trust between stakeholders. Here are two common methods we have found for creating sustainable communications: Formal cross-functional committees—these committees tend to meet monthly and include representatives from all the relevant stakeholder groups/functions. These committees are useful to discuss resources, create transparency on project milestones, and supply information on project status prior to hand-off. Informal monthly meetings—these meetings tend to include staff from related functions (such as Marketing and R&D) and are particularly useful for sharing best practices, breaking down silos, and brainstorming long-range or disruptive ideas. Much like with my son and husband, when left to their own devices, business communications tend to break down or be shifted aside for more pressing priorities. Communications are vital to ensuring the health of any project or process and require commitment and nurturing equal to the multitude of benefits it offers. Holly is the Research Lead for the Growth Team Membership, a best practices research group within Frost & Sullivan. Follow her on twitter at @hlykehogland.
by Lida Mantzavinou 12 Jun 2012
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2012 will be a tough year for airlines globally. With fuel prices at unsustainable levels and the threat of a major breakdown in the Eurozone area looming, airlines need to take action. Yet the most pressing issue is the lack of sustainable profitability in an industry used to negative results. The 68th International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place in Beijing this year, with discussions focusing on the key factors that impact airline profitability and operating costs. This is nothing new. In the 68 years of the AGM net profit margins have rarely exceeded 3%, making airlines the worst performers in the air transport value chain. For a third year in a row IATA members witnessed modest profit margins, albeit driven by the Asian carriers. Overall airline profits, in all regions apart from the Middle East, are expected to fall in comparison to 2011, falling from $8bn to $3bn in total. However Global GDP, a key driver of air traffic growth, and passenger numbers are expected to grow, while average jet fuel prices for the year are expected to be lower. The industry is witnessing a paradox: even though demand is on a constant rise and airlines become more sophisticated in delivering value to passengers, profits are elusive. This is due to the impact of external factors, over which airlines have very little control, such as the global economic crisis and physical disasters. Operating costs are heavily dependent on jet fuel price fluctuations, with fuel currently representing 35% of total operating costs which is up from 15% a decade ago. Even though its impact is still limited, the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has also been a major topic of discussion at this year’s AGM, as it is expected to add 1% to an average return ticket price. Fears of a full blown trade war between foreign and EU aviation authorities are exaggerated, with the EC expected to back down and postpone implementation to 2013, when ICAO will take control of the issue during its assembly. As the industry is still very inefficient, consolidation will intensify in the next few years. Consolidation in the form of mergers and acquisitions, as well as strategic partnerships, allow the creation of synergies, cost efficiencies and economies of scale. The implementation of major restructuring programmes is also key in raising profitability. Unification of revenue management processes across an airline group’s global locations, co-ordination of flight schedules and redeployment of aircraft are some of the steps airline groups have to take for sustainable profit generation.