Research and Development (R&D) budgets have been increasing for successful enterprises the world over and it is now no longer a question of whether or not to conduct R&D, but rather when and how. Below is the list of what to do R&D on and where.
The mode of product manufacture and fabrication provides a fertile ground for research and development. This will reveal the technological level reached and the capacity of change or the lack of it. High levels of technological advancement will place a major hurdle for those with lower levels.
Once a product is manufactured it should reach where it is required. This calls for an efficient distribution system that includes a robust network of distributors, agents, a functional supply chain and a concerted promotional campaign. While excellent promotion brings the people to the products, an efficient delivery and distribution system brings the products to the people.
The volume of purchases is another area research should encompass. This is because revenue is a function of volume of purchases. Turnover and rate of turnover are significant determinants of the robustness of an enterprise. Different pack sizes will yield different rates of turnover. More distributors can be accessed if their aggregate level of purchases does not expose the enterprise to un-necessary risk.
The nature and composition of the clientele should be given serious consideration when developing new products or finding new uses for existing products. It is important that cognisance be made of the different buying behavior of the different age groups, social strata, and socio-cultural setups among the clientele. Peer pressure has long been recognised as an important element in behavior change, and so is the sense of belonging. This survey should also reveal the people with the final decision to buy and those who influence others to buy.
Knowing the nature and composition of the clientele is one important thing while locating them by geographical or spatial distribution is another function of any serious R&D effort. This will lead to their identification, isolation and then looking for the best means of delivering to them the goods and services. This is referred to, in political terms as getting nearer to the people or being able to work at the grassroots.
The product itself should merit serious attention when it comes to R&D efforts. Indeed many people associate R&D matters to the product attributes. The position of the product in the matrix of product portfolio is of utmost importance.The results of the research in this area will reveal whether the product is a cash cow, rising star, question mark or dead weight of the enterprise. Arising from this will be decisions of milking the product in case it is a cash cow; investing in the product in case of a rising star; further development or wait and see for the question mark product; and outright divestiture for the dead weight product.
Different types of enterprise existing in everyday life: those that do not understand what is happening around; those that demand to know what is happening; those that contemplate the events that happen;those that understand the events happening and those that provoke the events that happen. It is now up to you to choose where you belong, and where you aspire to move!
By Dr. William M. Kihire
Senior Business Advisor, Technoserve, Uganda.
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