Findings from the Benchmarking Survey on New Solutions Development

Crowd of small symbolic 3d figures linked by lines, isolatedThe results of our first-ever New Solutions Development (NSD) benchmarking survey are in, and they confirm much of what we’ve suspected about the process – it’s important, it’s different from product development, and it’s hard. As we learned in our previous research, product marketers make up a large percentage of those who have solutions development responsibility.  And while they’re comfortable creating the next generation of product features and functionality, when it comes to developing new solutions, where the final offer may include multiple products, several types of services, and partner or channel delivery capabilities, the process and approach are much less clear.   Our NSD benchmarking survey looked at how B2B companies approach the new solutions development process – and what can be learned from their issues and best practices.

The Survey Respondents

The results of our survey came from individuals we qualified and validated as being involved in solutions development at 72 companies.   The majority of the respondents represented companies with over $1 billion in revenues sold both products and services.

Alignment Around the Definition of a Solution

To ensure that the survey participants had the same perception of solutions and solutions marketing, early in the survey we asked a question regarding the respondent’s definition of a solution.  At Solutions Insights, we consider a solution to be: [quotes style="classic" align="center" author=""]A combination of products, services, and intellectual property focused on a customer business problem or opportunity that drives measurable business value and can be significantly standardized. The solutions components can be from either the vendor and one or more of its partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer or a combination of the three.[/quotes] Of the 72 companies that qualified for the survey, 70% were completely aligned with our definition and another 10% had definitions that were similar.  This reassured us regarding the validity of the results.

Survey Results

The survey gave us some great insights into how companies develop solutions, and the issues and challenges they face.  The following are some key findings from the survey:
  • Solutions are continuing to grow in importance. Only 9% stated that solutions were important to their companies 5 years ago, but 72% said that solutions will be critical to their company’s success in the next 5 years. The main reason solutions are considered increasingly critical is that companies are seeing them as a primary source of overall revenue growth and a way to increase profitability by selling value-priced offerings that provide greater overall customer value.
  • There is no consistent, standard approach or methodology. Time-to-market, unique customer situations, and the need to satisfy customer demand drive solutions development at most companies. However, in general, the process is not well defined or standardized. The two reasons most frequently mentioned were that the shift to solutions is relatively new for the company and the actual development of new solutions is often decentralized and widely disbursed among multiple departments and Business Units.
  • Cross-functional collaboration and time-to-market were considered the two biggest challenges for solutions developers. As we often see in our consulting activities, breaking down organizational silos and fostering collaboration can be daunting, but it is critical to the development of complex, high-value solutions. Given the organizational and cultural implication in doing this, the path to success requires additional time and careful and deliberate actions – both of which few companies have since speed to market often determines which solutions will win and which ones will be “me, too” offerings.
 

Get Additional Insights into the New Solutions Development Process

If you’re interested in seeing more results from our benchmarking survey, go our website at http://www.solutionsinsights.com/pdf/Solutions_Marketing_Benchmarking_Survey_2014.pdf where you’ll find a downloadable summary of excerpts from the survey.

Download

And if you have questions about the survey results, or would like us to present it in more detail to you or your team, please email or call me.

Email:   shurley@solutionsinsights.com Telephone: 781-686-1607.

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