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DanielCho-290x290I meet Mr Daniel Cho, Director of Market Intelligence & New Product Introduction for Philips Patient Care & Clinical Informatics, at the NPD event in Copenhagen in february 2012. He held a very interesting speech and I especially remember him argue that:

”people innovate on numbers, not on function”

and then explained this with a razor:

Why have four blades in it? You don’t need four blades!
What next? 12 blades instead of two!!!”

Here comes an interview with Mr Cho. Enjoy reading.

1. Who are you and what do you do today? What have you done before etc.?
I am Daniel Cho, the Director of Market Intelligence & New Product Introduction for Philips Patient Care & Clinical Informatics, a 2B Euro business out of the Philips Healthcare’s total business. I am responsible to manage 4 streams of Intelligence within Philips PCCI, the Market Intelligence, the Business Intelligence, the Competitive Intelligence and Customer Intelligence. I am also responsible to manage the New Product Introduction events and training globally.

My first job out of the university was with PriceWaterhouse as a Management Consultant focused on IT. Then I moved on to work in a Telecommunication company before I joined the sales role for selling HP Medical Equipments. I got promoted to a Marketing role (sales development) for North East Asia, then to the entire Asia Pacific. Within this time, HP spun off the Medical Division and we ended up working for Philips Healthcare since 2001. My next opportunity was to join the Global Product Marketing division as a Global Product Manager for Patient Monitoring in Boeblingen of Germany. In this role, I managed the transition from the legacy platform into the new generation monitors, as well as working from scratch a revolutionary transport solution that forever changed the way people move patients and information between clinical units. Then I got into the current role.

2. What is product development, in your point of view?
Product development is a simple term describe all of the combined effort to improve, innovate on or revolutionalize a product from its predecessor. It generally involve a large cross functional team, from analyzing the market and customer needs through idea generation processes, knowing the customer insights of what is needed by them, to putting this requirements into functional specifications, then translated to technical specifications, to the whole R&D complex matrix of hardware and software designs and implementation, to testing, to introductions and trainings.

3. How did product development worked before? Choose your own horizon.
Philips was a very technical oriented company and have superior history of excellent inventions. So, there has been an age of R&D driven innovation, which is how Philips also marketed itself in the past: “Let’s make things better”. There was no mentioning of the customers, and the main focus was on technology and how technology can be used to take the product further than before.

4. How does product development works today?
No major product development can start without fully understanding the customer insight. There is a very rigorous process in Philips called Value Proposition House, which is a very profound way of understanding the dilemmas of our customers, and how Philips can derive a solution that helps to solve these dilemmas. In between, we have to also investigate if the solution is competitive or not in the market, if Philips is reputable enough to produce such a solution, and can we effectively communicate these values back to the customers and how much the customers believed the solution we proposed is the ultimate answer to their problems. The customer insights we collected then will be used to creates a voice of customer tree, which documents all of the key features that is needed to build such a solution, and these will then get translated by marketing into requirement specifications. This then started the R&D cycle to generate this solution for our customers. The final specifications also includes all of the customers feedbacks that we officially collected throughout the years, and we have to offer also solutions to the request from the existing customers.

5. How will product development work in the future?
More and more we rely on the feedback of our customers. We are looking into different ways from crowd sourcing methodology to collect more immediate feedbacks from our customer in a larger scale. We will continue the VPH process & current customer feedback system, but will use crowd source to bridge the gaps to get higher confidence of the findings.

6. How do you product develop best, according to you?
The best products are the products that can help to solve the most essential problems of a customers using the least cost and time. So product innovation is not only focusing on the functional side, but also on the cost, the ease of use and access, and eventually the total value a customer will perceive. Of course, safety, quality and security is needed in all development by default. For example, if the only way to calculate a solution is using the IBM Watson computer, then it is not a solution likely to benefit majority of your customers. On the other hand, if the calculation can be build on a collection of PC or iPads, then you can roll it out very widely. And as a company focusing on helping to improve and saves lives, Philips will always aim at solutions that helps more people, globally. So great value with affordable cost will be my pick for best products.

7. Is there any person who inspired you in product development, and why?
I am like many others, really admired the work of Steve Jobs. I am not an Apple fan, but I love the simplicity their products has, and the ease of use, and the pride people have owning their products. I wish one day people can put a Philips sticker on their car and feel as proud.

8. Can you pick one thing that inspired you in product development way, and why?
One story inspires me since very young age, was the price of Emperor Tsao in China. When he was asked to weight an elephant, he did not immediately went and build an enormous balance. He just walk the elephant onto a boat, mark the level of water. Then fill sand into the boat until it reaches the same level. Then weight the sand using standard balance and add the sum to get the answer.

Innovation is not always difficult, nor costly. If people think hard enough, complex task can always be easy to achieve. My favorite example for innovation are, you bend a piece of wire, then you can make a paper clip that help you organize the piles of papers. You attach a eraser at the end of a pencil so you will never have problem writing and cannot correct it. Some solutions are very simple, technology can sometimes be a hurdle. And we needed to strike a good balance, when and how technology come into the solution offering. Think simplicity before thinking technology.

9. How will the product development process look like in an organization for the best results? Explain?
The product development process must involve your customers, and not just ask them what they want, as they are not educated sufficiently to tell you the best options (famous quote from Henry Ford, if I ask my customers what they want, they will always says : a faster horse). You have to understand their problems, their emotions, the reasons they are asking for the solution.

The “Why” behind the products is far more important than the “how” and the “what”. Involve the customers in the very beginning of the concept generation process, spend time in understanding them (instead of jumping into asking how and what), and do not start R&D before you figure there is a definite need and thus market for such a product. This will always brings you the best results.

The reason is simple, people will be willing to pay for product/service that solve their problems, and if you understand their needs, and offer solutions that they can afford, and make it very easy to use, then you will have their trust and business.

Thank you!

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claes

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