What exactly is Research and Discovery? What are the benefits? And when it comes to your software development project, why should you care?
I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.
Today more than ever, companies are investing heavily in Research and Discovery. In a recent Deloitte survey, 52% said that they will be assigning greater budget to R&D in the next two years, with 67% affirming that they would be following a similar route in the long term. But why? What exactly is R&D? What are the benefits? And when it comes to your software development project, why should you care?
What is Research and Discovery?
Put simply, Research and Discovery- or R&D – is an investigation. Typically, the objective is to better understand an existing concept (allowing for improvement to that concept), or to scope out a wider field or market in which a new concept (or product) could be developed. In the case of software development, R&D is the process of investigating the capability, credibility and value of a potential new product. A crucial component of innovation, and a key factor in developing competitive advantages, Research and Development primarily concerns itself with knowledge, which can then be leveraged to improve and innovate product lines – or even positively disrupt entire markets. After all, the more you know, the more you can do.
In recent years, the explosion in software development has seen product complexity increase tenfold. As customers become savvier, more demanding and less patient, the need to deliver quickly and innovatively has put the spotlight firmly on Research and Discovery. Forcing businesses to dig deeper in understanding customer preferences, heavily investigate target audiences, and pay much greater attention to the wider market, R&D ensures that no stone is left unturned at the start of a software project, and that the consequent results deliver for both the business and its customer.
What are the benefits of R&D in software development?
Understand your audience
Researching the target audience for your potential new product ensures that its features best support the audience’s needs. Intensive R&D into your audience goes far beyond reviewing the demographics; though these basic facts serve a purpose, effective R&D instead looks to understand an audience’s behaviour, preferences, and even their buying style. The results from which allow you to refine your new product to best match the findings, potentially leading to greater user engagement – and greater business results.
Test the waters
Research and Discovery allows you to innovate and think creatively – but it also gives you the (very important) opportunity to sense-check your ideas. It’s easy to become blinkered when you have a great idea, focusing solely on the positives and its potential. R&D provides a chance to look beyond your (understandably) limited view and consider wider external factors. For example:
- Is there a real need for this product? Or do you just like it?
- Is this product a priority for your customers?
- Does this product support your wider business objectives?
- Is there something already on the market that offers the same as your product?
Some software houses (like Yozu) can offer a prototype or Proof of Concept service for your product, allowing you to test its viability before heavy investment. This offers a perfect opportunity to listen to feedback, review and refine accordingly.
Support wider business objectives
It’s all too easy for a lot of time, money and resources to be poured into the development of a new product without understanding how it will help a business to achieve its wider goals. The excitement of a new product – or innovation of an existing one – can easily start off as the ‘superhero’ for a business; certain to reap in revenue and delight customers. But without R&D to support such claims, that ‘superhero’ status can quickly turn to ‘scapegoat’, with the product taking the blame for tied-up budgets and team resource.
Research and Discovery allows you to identify how the new product can bolster your efforts in achieving existing business goals, rather than hindering them.
Make a solid business case..
Whether internal or external, most businesses have stakeholders to whom they’re required to prove that due diligence is being paid – especially when it comes to new products or services. Research and Discovery allows you to show such stakeholders that you’ve ‘done your homework’; you know the strengths (and potential limitations) of your new product; you’ve identified how it will support wider business goals; and you’ve given sufficient consideration to your target audience and how receptive they’re likely to be. This all makes for a much stronger business case, allowing you to progress with your new product, confident in the knowledge that you have your stakeholders – and a whole lot of research – supporting you.