Innovation, product development and market success

  • How do innovations originate?
  • How do innovations and R&D create customer enthusiasm and company value?
  • What are the necessary prerequisites?
  • Do others market better?

Top managers, experts and masterminds of innovation management got together in Starnberg

In the atmosphere typical for the Starnberg Management-Days the high-ranking audience discussed with the speakers how to create customer enthusiasm and company success with innovation. The event took place in the crowded Hotel Four Seasons. The speakers were personalities of whom some are in charge of up to 150,000 people and who have never lost vicinity to the people despite their intellectual sharpness. Discussions were lead by top managers, experts and masterminds of innovation management.

From the start the common denominator was that the topic has more relevance than ever before as: The more the focus has been based on labor cost disadvantages of German companies in the last years, the more obvious it is that only those can survive that differentiate themselves from other companies and that create real and unique value for the customer. A multitude of examples for this has been shown at the Starnberg Management-Days. They all had in common that not only were innovation methods and processes commanded well but also successful innovators knew requirements and differences of markets and customers very well.

“Not simply those innovations are successful that are invented by visionary idealists in laboratories and think tanks. Recurringly successful is what is sensible and economically necessary for the next step in history of development. Selection here takes place via functionality, comprehensibility and suitability for daily use of innovations.” In his entry speech Werner Seidenschwarz showed on examples of Seidenschwarz & Comp.’s experience how to lead and innovate, how to systematically develop customer solutions and then bring them to market successfully. In all cases the necessary creativity needed leeway to let innovations develop. But in all cases leeway also needed rules.

The numerous facets of successful innovation and marketing were then extensively shown on impressing examples.

The future-researcher Matthias Horx pointed out that future developments are more predictable than all of us believe. But: “Who doesn’t open his eyes will remain blind forever.” For him Asia, Downaging and Women are outstanding megatrends that have vital influence on the design of consumer goods. By contrast the influence of Health Care will strike through on producer goods in all industries, from energy over environment to nanotechnology.

Accordingly the Siemens-executive Klaus Wucherer, head of the Siemens industry business, emphasized the great importance attached to a broad sector-know-how in companies. The key is to understand the diversity of markets and customers. For example the local product fit of a human-machine-interface-console in China requires very specific simplicity, robustness and quality for a good price. The homerun-model has a touch screen and solid pressure keys and, moreover, has to survive in much harder environmental conditions within factories. To meet these local demands, development and manufacturing have to happen in the country itself. “You may have brilliant ideas in mind, but they have to meet customer’s demands and of course in India, where half of the population is younger than 34, these are different compared to Germany”.

The head of innovation at Bayer AG, Wolfgang Plischke, argued in the same direction. With the name Bayer a long tradition of innovation culture in Germany is affiliated. A number of well-known studies prove that the absence of such an innovation culture is the largest barrier for the modernisation and invention in companies. Four years ago Bayer made a radical change in the organization of its research work and shifted the then strongly centralized research activities into the responsibility of the three large business areas. Thereby the benchmarking of innovation processes, the exchange of knowledge and staff as well as on growth segments focussed innovation initiatives are critical factors. Today Bayer is the giant of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry in Germany with an F&E-budget of 1.9 bn. But even a giant is disillusioned day-by-day, when he knows that the success rate for research projects in the health care area lies by less than one percent.

As a representative of a medium-sized company Eduard Gerum from KnorrBremse stated: “We don’t sell joy of driving, we sell costs.” He described the lack of excellent upcoming engineers in Germany that leads to an ever increasing importance of Eastern European innovation locations. It was interesting to hear that the speed of innovation in the brakes for trains and commercial vehicles business is so high in comparison to North America that the Americans actually had to leapfrog some innovation steps, like the development of the EBS.

Alexander von Witzleben, president of Jenoptik described the most radical business change. As successor of Lothar Späth, he outlined the painful way of the enterprise after the reunification of 30.000 to 3.000 coworkers, drew however also an extremely positive picture of its company and the city Jena, which are both on a lasting path to success now. “In no other German city and in no other German enterprise the entrepreneurial thought seems to have been resuscitated like this.“ Therefore it is only consistent that innovations at Jenoptik are not transferred into a normal, internal development project after straight discovering, but a separate GmbH will be created straight away, which must prove itself immediately in the market. By the way, the most cheerless business key figure was developed many years ago at Jenoptik, the east-break-even: that is, if the turnover of an enterprise becomes higher than its losses for the first time. Today 50 per cent of chips worldwide are equipped with Jenoptik technology.

Bernd Leukert, as representative of the German software giant SAP placed a picture that illustrates, how one can manage world-wide development of software products via innovation networks.

Finally Wolfgang Herrmann, president of the Technical University Munich, demonstrated that the German universities are in the break-up. „In the last 20 years we have indulged ourselves in a free of charge second-rate position. Now we want to push forward as Technical University of Munich into the international top group. “Universities thereby must be understood in the global context, because the scientific catching up in India and China has begun long ago. „It is a matter of breaking open bureaucratic structures and of internalising business principles. The assumption of responsibility, the ascription of success and failure, flexible and performance-related salaries and the collection of tuition fees and selection processes as well as a professional fundraising are part of it.“

The speakers clarified impressively, how German enterprises can create innovations, which lead to enthusiasm of the customers and market success throughout the world.

Those, who want to deal with the topic „innovation - product emergence - market success “ in detail, can do this in the context of the a premium-seminar-row of the same name, which will comprehensively discuss the topic with reference to concrete guidance, method and process on the basis of case studies in a three-day-long meeting.