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As organisations become increasingly global and cross-functional, advancements in technology, silos are breaking down, connectivity is increasing and organisations face more complex changes (Cross, Rebele and Grant, 2016). At an increasing speed presents the need for companies to respond to strategic challenges by increasing their product portfolios and by addressing new market segments, new product introduction management in the technology industry has become more challenging. Research has attributed some difficulties in doing so largely to problems in the new product launch process, and has pinpointed the essential role of not only adapting to changes and managing your consumer expectations but also teamwork and managing internal processes as efficiently as possible is seen as a key to organisational success (Wind and Mahajan, 1981). An ethos of speed of new product launch through change management needed for the success of new product introduction.
This study will employ longitudinal research in a case company to identify if and how they reconcile this conundrum, to advance understanding concerning the critical link between new products launch and change management.
Most reliable predictors of success for new introductions relate to product, strategy, process and marketplace characteristics (Wilson et al., 2016). Product launch process, also known as commercialization process, sits within process characteristics and begins when a business identifies a way to use engineering advancement to meet a market need and is a the last stage of the new product development. The process continues through design, development, and marketing, includes efforts to improve the product, and can be separated into three main parts the product, the consumer and the organisation developing the new product. All the various steps owned by different functions with simultaneously overlapping phases (Nevens, Summe and Uttal, 1990; Gourville, 2005).
The growing number of new product launches has triggered challenges and inefficiencies on organisational and process levels across the global technology industry. With new products constantly emerging, companies have become more agile to keep up with rapidly changing market conditions and with all their efforts to get all product components right, yet most product launches still fail. The same can be said for change management (Schneider and Hall, 2011). One of the main problems is that organisations like a routine and it still has to be learned. It takes time and money to try new things; it disrupts and distracts the day-to-day working of the organisation and can upset current processes and arrangements and require efforts in acquiring and using new skills. Not surprising that the strategy they adapt is to try and short-cut the processes by borrowing ideas from other organisation (Tidd and Bessant, 2013). Another reason depends on how products are differentiated and how the consumer perceives it. In addition, most consumers are unwilling to change from one product to another which detects conflict and also means that the organisation has overestimated the market size, demand, have not positioned correctly (Gourville, 2005).
At the outset, anything is possible, but in many cases, the new product development process blurs into the process of new product launch. For example, customer co-development, test marketing and use of alpha, beta and gamma test sites yield data on customer requirements and so on. Typically, product launch process involves a sequence of awareness, interest, trial, evaluation and adaptation. Simply making the consumer aware of the new product, will not be sufficient, they need to be drawn into the process through the other stages (Tidd and Bessant, 2013). As debated by Kotter & Schlesinger (2008), when choosing strategy for change, organisations leaders must continually deal with increased competition, changing workforce, technological advancements, growth and new regulations. Therefore, organisations need to embrace change and think about how to support fast growth and implement an agile launch process that can overcome obstacles related to new product launch. The success depends on not only adopting to their market needs but successful change management of internal processes is also a very important factor in managing customer satisfaction and creating better experience (Cooper, 1999). Critical to note it does not guarantee that it will be successful. Hence, the quest to investigate the effectiveness of product launch process have been limited and apart from the lack of research there still exist inconclusive findings concerning which approach to product launch process in the technology industry will be the most successful. These concerns lead to a comprehensive investigation of the factors, and the techniques that can optimize the implementation of a product launch initiatives through change management in the case company.
The research literature identifies several launch challenges, for example, timing, decisions, demand, cross-functional silos and sales management. In case of innovative technology applications that are developed and launched is the process of introducing a new product into the market for initial sale (Tzokas, Hultink and Hart, 2004; Cooper, 2014). And its main purpose is to maximise companies profitability by introducing their product into the target market and depend on the specific buying behaviour to be influenced (Guiltinan, 1999).
Accordingly, a great deal of launch literature examines the elements of launch that contribute to new product success (Guiltinan, 1999; Bruce, Daly and Kahn, 2007; Tidd and Bessant, 2013; Johnson and Sohi, 2017). However, launch process calls for the other side of the coin, as it’s been largely ignored. In addition, launch is said to be often poorly managed (Schoenherr and Swink, 2015), and the launch process to be unstructured (Roger J. Calantone and C. Anthony Di Benedetto, 2007; Wilson et al., 2016). Therefore, it is suggested here that in order to develop a more organized approach on launch it would be important to grasp the challenges of it. Because the marketing function is a focal function during launch (Schneider and Hall, 2011; Tidd and Bessant, 2013), particularly in the context of marketing it is considered suitable for examining these challenges. That means that for example production ramp-up issues are not of interest here as such, but perhaps their effects on the timing of the new product launch process.
New product launch activities formulated on the bases of the organisations strategy, considering existing product iteration or extensions, and introduced to seek growth, to meet market demand and to take advantages of consumer desires. In addition, it reduces marketing efforts, reduces risk and enhances the parent brand. However, if the product loses its purpose, or released to soon or causes confusion amongst customers and requires recognising the issues, stepping in and correcting any inaccuracy, which often can be very costly and purely managed. New product launch particularly is already very costly process and the organisation need to provide for not only marketing activities, but also invest in internal and external training, gear up productions and align all operations (Kotler et al., 2008).
The main goal of this research is to combine the product launch, change management elements, and provide a product launch framework for a common use in different product launches inside the case company. Identify the most critical product launch stages from change management perspective
The sample literature conducted, has provided limited insight into the product launch process from change management perspective.
The capabilities and conditions of successful product launch have been viewed from various perspectives by researchers and scholars. This research will be analysing the product launch process of the case company in the context of change management. Therefore, this research has two complementary goals, first to gain a common understanding of change management and launch process improvement and the possibility coloration between both terms. Secondly, it aims to provide references for improving management practice concerning product launch process in the selected case company. This research will investigate and analyse the change management process transfer and implementation within product launch process. Common and different process frameworks will be identified in the case company and how these frameworks influence the new product introduction. These issues will be critically analysed to compare the observed practice in the case company with theoretical developments and with results of earlier studies.
On that bases, the following research questions will have to be answered:
Both product launch process and change management subjects are widely applied and examining every point would exceed the dimensions of this research. Therefore this research will only provide for an overview of product launch process in the technology industry and change management theory to create a baseline understanding required before the actual research conducted. Since this is a case study the validity and scope of the research is limited to the case company and particular product launch process discussed.
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