The goal of any company is simple: get and retain customers. While Research & Development (R&D) and marketing teams share this same vision, they often work worlds apart. When R&D and marketing teams work side by side instead of back to back, they can complement each other in advantageous ways.
Innovation in practice = shared dependency
While innovation is often attributed to R&D, they’re only one of many vital pieces in the product development process.
Innovation = invention + customer value + business model
You need a technologically viable product innovation (R&D’s value) that also meets a market need (marketer’s value). You can’t market what you don’t have; conversely, no matter how amazing your innovation is, nobody will buy it if it’s not marketed well (or quickly). One cannot thrive without the other.
In today’s market, the most profitable goal is improving the overall customer experience — and marketers need R&D’s technology to help them offer this experience. Marketers know first-hand what customers want, how they’re responding to innovations and how to increase buyer interest, while the R&D team is on the back end — taking the steps to actually implement technology, foster ideas and solve problems.
Why collaboration is critical to efficiency
Compensating for blind spots
Collaboration is crucial to the efficiency of the innovation process because when both sides take the time to listen to and learn from one another, blind spots are compensated. An open communication channel is essential not only for feedback, but for opinions and even gratitude.
If R&D tunes out marketers’ input, a technologically viable project will be a commercial failure because it does not meet a need. And if marketers don’t listen to R&D, their best marketing efforts won’t make up for a technologically inferior, and thus mediocre, product.
Another vital reason for open communication is the sharing and organizing of information. It’s essential that stakeholders can access the right information when they need it. If each team hoards its own data and acts in isolation, data can be lost, scattered, or duplicated, wasting time and leading to potential product design mistakes due to misinformation. When the teams openly share information in a streamlined way, there’s less chance of failure or wasted money.
How R&D and marketing teams can work together efficiently
Share an innovation vision
The next step towards a successful collaboration is establishing a common vision: what do both teams hope to accomplish?
Once an open communication and shared purpose is established, each team should spend time immersed in the other’s roles, building connections, commodore and a newfound appreciation for the other team’s efforts. Marketers should step into their R&D’s shoes and actually get to know their processes, work environments, technologies and so on. Meanwhile, R&D should immerse themselves in the creative flow of their marketers and learn what entices buyers — helping them better understand product relevancy and customer satisfaction.
Work together on an MVP
To test the relevancy of your R&D’s latest idea (and avoid wasting money), start by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) — the smallest component that can be tested by potential buyers. Next, test the MVP of the market to measure impact — talk to your target audience, make surveys, or conduct market research for quick and relevant market insights. This creates a circular economy amongst developers, marketers and buyers in which the buyers’ feedback affects later development and marketing — slowly finessing innovation over time.
The bottom line is this: both teams need the other. Together, the two diverse groups can continually question their existing products, push the boundaries of innovation and produce beneficial solutions for their customers.