Closing the gap between customer requirements and company's current product offering - Managing customer knowledge in the front-end of innovations. Case: Metso Automation Inc.

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
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Date
2010
Major/Subject
Marketing
Markkinointi
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
110
Series
Abstract
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY In today’s extremely competitive markets the technological superiority is longer sufficient. In order to succeed, companies have to be able to develop products that meet their customers’ situations, needs, wants, strategy and long-term plans. The purpose of this study was to find out how the customer knowledge stemming from the customer interface could be efficiently managed to the front-end of innovations in order to produce a customer-oriented product offering. The main objective was to understand how the knowledge should be acquired, managed across different unit and departments as well as identify the main challenges in ensuring the personnel’s commitment to a customer-oriented approach in innovations. RESEARCH METHOD The research approach of this study is a qualitative case study conducted in inductive nature. Because the case study approach aims to produce an in-depth understanding of a specific topic or process, it correlated with the studies objectives and is therefore suitable for this research. The data collection included 14 interviews including interviewees from North- and South America, Europe, Middle-East and Asia. All interviews were conducted during January – March 2010. After the interviews were gathered, all data was combined and categorized according to the main themes. MAIN FINDINGS The most important finding is that the customer-orientation is fundamentally based on successful knowledge management between the sales and research and development department. The successful knowledge management does not require solely effective processes, tools and channels but also the top management’s commitment in engaging the purpose of sharing and managing knowledge into the company strategy. The main challenge is to leverage the customer knowledge from the heads of very few, for the utilization of the whole organization. This is only possible when everyone knows who needs to share what, to whom and what is the purpose of sharing knowledge.
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Keywords
Customer knowledge, Front-end process, Customer knowledge management, New product development
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