McKinsey published Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity.  The report analyzes the impact of big data in manufacturing. McKinsey finds that the manufacturing sector stores more data than any other sector because they have so much "raw material" to work with including machinery metrics and sales systems.


But many manufacturers are neglecting to collect data from one of the most important data sources, the customer.


At the Smart Manufacturing Summit, during an open Q&A forum hosted by the Chief Executive Group, the following question was posed to Jim Blass, Caterpillars Director of Product Development & Global Technology.


"What role does marketing play in your R&D process?"


And his response was spot on.


"Marketing is pivotal in our R&D process because we rely on marketing to capture and communicate the voice of the customer, and that's what drives our R&D innovation."


Value Driven Design

McKinsey refers to incorporating the customer voice into the R&D process as Value Driven Design.  Capturing the voice of the customer can be challenging. Many manufacturers leverage customer support teams, social media, and contests to collect customer feedback. But customer feedback and the customer voice are very different.  manufacturing 1.jpg


Manufacturers that capture customer feedback tend to focus on what the customer wants, or how they want the product delivered or designed.  But capturing the customer voice requires working to understand why the customer is making those requests.


Capturing that feedback can be difficult, but now solutions like TechValidate make that feedback and data capture much more efficient.  TechValidate is a solution that captures the voice of customers and uses that data to uncover valuable insights and create compelling customer evidence.


Understand the Customer

Another challenge that manufacturers face when capturing the voice of the customer is disparate data.  Customer feedback resides in multiple systems, but using a dedicated tool to capture the voice of the customer allows a company to evaluate one source and makes information sharing much easier.


Through the use of web-based survey tools, manufacturers can collect information from customers to better understand how their products are used, where they see potential advancements, and why those advancements would benefit their business. The data output can provide timely evidence and useful knowledge around potential R&D opportunities.


This can also provide an additional value-add to partners because manufacturers can provide this data to their channel.  Through the simple development of charts, graphs and case studies, manufacturers can more effectively communicate the voice of the customer.



Data Usage

The data collected is displayed through charts, graphs, case studies, performance metrics, and proof points.  This powerful content can be used to communicate the voice of the customer to the R&D team and justify future investments to the larger organization.


Additionally, this data is creating and collecting customer evidence and feedback which can be used by marketing to support outbound sales efforts.  This credible content accelerates the sales process, from lead acquisition to lead nurturing, to closing the sale, and beyond as well as through customer-driven R&D.


Capturing the voice of the customer, and utilizing it drive future R&D efforts and investments should be an objective of every manufacturer.  How are you capturing and using the voice of the customer?