PDMA thoughts: Service and Innovation

I have delayed my summary of the PDMA Research Conference, but hopefully the delay helps with perspective… (sound like an ad-hoc rationalization?) The two major themes that still resonate with me a couple weeks later are the call by Gerald J. Tellis, the chair of the 2009 conference, for a broadening of focus on INNOVATION — not simply new product development — and the separate track session on NPD for SERVICE.


Dr. Tellis, noted researcher and 2009 chair, called for a broader focus on INNOVATION in the PDMA, noting that the premier NPD journal, JPIM (published by the PDMA), has innovation in its title. To this observer the broadening trend towards innovation seems already underway as both the JPIM and the conference increasingly include research on service innovation, process innovation and entrepreneurship.

Service Innovation

I was of course delighted that there was a track session devoted to service innovation and that I was one of the presenters. It was awkward to be the final presenter, as all three of us had similar introductions:

  1. Even though service is 83% of the US economy and a majority of world GDP, service innovation is under-researched.
  2. NSD research to date has focused on the similarity to NPD for goods industries.
  3. New service development involves users.
  4. New service development is ITERATIVE.

This overlap in introductions may have been the most important result of this separate track session!

Devashish Pujar presented a paper cowritten with Pilar Carbonell and Ana I. Rodriguez-Escudero on selecting customers to participate in NSD. This study had somewhat surprising results: lead users had a positive impact on service innovativeness, innovation speed and competitive advantage; close customers did not. However close customer collaboration had a direct effect on market performance, while lead user collaboration was indirect at best.

Sena Ozdemir and Susan Hart presented a paper cowritten with Stephen Tagg on stages, gates and outcomes in NSD. They found that new product development for service was significantly different from the models of NPD for goods firms. NSD was much less formal, much more iterative, and harder to model.

I delivered a paper coauthored with Albert L. Page on grounded antecedents of new service development success. User input and iterativeness are ubiquitous in NSD. All potential antecedents of NSD success that emerged from a grounded study of 27 service firms were shaped by the concern to enhance user involvement in the process — the organization should have a customer-oriented culture, should employ research methods that engage users individually, and should seek formality in the NSD process only to the extent that iterativeness is not hindered. My slide show in PDF form if you are interested: grounded-antecedents2

 Fuzzy Rear End

 A key insight that I have noted in my previous posts was provided by Susan Hart, University of Strathclyde: the messy, iterative service development process may mean that NSD shares the Fuzzy Front End of NPD but that service innovation also has a “Fuzzy Rear End.”

Conference Overview

The PDMA research conference is supportive, friendly and international. The conference draws academic researchers interested in new product development from the US and Europe (several came across the BIG ocean also). The leading conference on product innovation immeditately follows the research conference. Dr. Abbie Griffin chaired the research conference this year; many of the senior researchers noted that the quality of the research seems to continue to improve.

I was delighted this year to have innovators from several leading companies, including Nokia, RIMM and CircleOne, talk to me after my presentation — some of the practitioners came early and participated in the research conference. [I was able to attend the full conference a couple years ago and was very impressed-more conference “crossover” would be useful.]

A memorable historical perspective on the PDMA was provided in the keynote presentation by Thomas P. Hustad, the original editor of the JPIM and some of the still-active founders, such as Tom Hustad, Albert L. Page, and long time active members such as Abbie Griffin were highlighted. The major theme was change and innovation in the organization.


 If you are interested in new service or product development, check out the local chapter of PDMA or their website.

PDMA website: www.pdma.org

Agenda, 2008 PDMA Research Conference:  http://conference.pdma.org/AcademicResearchForum.cfm

My slides: grounded-antecedents

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One Response to PDMA thoughts: Service and Innovation

  1. Pingback: The search for corporate uniqueness: is it futile and unnecessary?

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