Technology businesses often face a challenge when they want to commercialise a technical product or skill. They may have the necessary
Technology skills, but they often won’t have such high levels of expertise with two other critical areas that are critical in building a successful business:
Customer skills – understanding customers, and how best to ‘connect’ with customers through marketing and sales
Economic skills – understanding and optimising the financial returns for the product, the business and investors
At Red Kite, we have learned and used these skills in top-flight strategy consulting and with some of Europe’s leading brands including BT, CGI/Logica, Vodafone and UPS. We have assessed the market potential of many technologies and often played the role of ‘translator’ between the language of technology and the language of return on investment that is key for the CEO or CFO of a business.
In our experience, there are three key steps in how to approach this challenge.
1. Understand each of the three key areas, individually and how they link up. Some of the key questions are shown on the diagram below. We helped a technically excellent business services company to understand that customers who might seem similar on the surface could have very different ways of making decisions and very different levels of profitability. Working together, we re-designed marketing and sales approaches to be more effective both in absolute terms (+57% sales increase) and better focused on more profitable customers.
2. When you bring them together, be creative and wide-ranging in creating options for the way the business could work. For one client with an energy-efficiency technology, we identified a new possible customer group with a completely new business model worth tens of millions of pounds.
3. Then, select and refine them rigorously considering both their potential value and their chances of success. For a new telecommunication technology we built financial models for several options, which pointed us to a launch plan based on the retention of high value customers, rather than customer acquisition or new service usage.
"Robin was able to use his technical knowledge and business skills to connect us with a potential customer in the environmental management sector. He quickly understood how our low cost satellite data processing capability could be used and he knew the right person to talk to."
– Managing Director, Satellite data processing company
Red Kite's founder has helped businesses to get the best return on investment from their technology for over 30 years. Across a wide range of technologies, including communications, energy, information and transportation, we have found some common essential lessons to turn great technology into a great business.