یک روش GDSS مبتنی بر نگرشی برای ارزیابی نیازهای مشتری در بازارهای صنعتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|22818||2004||18 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9363 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 89, Issue 3, 18 June 2004, Pages 275–292
Need assessment is a critical success factor of product development in all companies; developing the right product requires an accurate understanding of customer needs. All available information about customer needs should be carefully assessed in the early phases of product development. In this paper we study the usefulness and usability of a Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) in the assessment of customers’ needs in industrial companies. We studied two real-world need assessment cases carried out in cooperation with a Finnish telecommunications company. These cases focused on the assessment of the lead users’ needs for new types of applications based on wireless technologies. GDSS technology offered many benefits for promoting the assessment of industrial customer needs. These case experiences will be described more profoundly in this paper.
The most successful product innovations are initiated as a result of the correct perception of user needs. Developing the right product requires an accurate understanding of customer needs. The economic success of manufacturing companies depends on their ability to identify the needs of their customers and to quickly create products that meet these needs and that can be produced at a low cost. The accuracy of development activities can be ensured using need assessment. Accuracy refers to the use of precious resources for those development activities which most increase customer satisfaction. Need assessment is an activity with which customers’ needs are gathered and analyzed, and that assures that the company will operate to satisfy these needs. All available customer need information should be carefully assessed in the early phases of product development and utilized effectively in the development of new products. The need assessment process should include phases which support effective group work in order to ensure that all critical information on customer needs is assessed by the customers themselves and also inside the company. Therefore, systematic and competent methods and tools for need assessment are necessary. This study is based on two need assessment cases made in cooperation with a Finnish telecommunications company at the Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) laboratory of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). In these cases, the authors have utilized the so-called innovative “lead user” customers. Lead users are people, whose present needs will become common in the market place in the future. In the literature on this topic, there are many examples of how lead user analysis has helped in finding new customer needs for industrial companies, which operate in markets where new technologies make it difficult for the customer to articulate their needs (e.g. von Hippel, 1988; von Hippel et al., 1999). This research reviews the possibilities of the face-to-face GDSS in customer need assessment. The purpose of this study is to clarify the real advantages and problems of GDSS in need assessment. This research helps to understand the factors and limitations which should be taken into consideration when utilizing GDSS and focuses on the need assessment of industrial companies that operate in business-to-business markets and the telecommunications business. Methodologically this study uses the constructive approach. The constructive approach was very suitable for this research because the main target of the study was to design and test a framework in a real-life context. The logic in the constructive approach is to design a new construct and test its applicability in real-life cases. The main goal in the constructive approach is to build new constructs that are tied into the current doctrines and theories. This construct may be a model, plan, scheme or other construct designed for purposes of management problem solving. The results of the research are evaluated based on the newness and applicability in the progress of scientific knowledge. Demonstration and validation of practical usability is also important in evaluating the results. The research is usually carried out with limited empirical material, for instance a limited number of cases, which are studied in great detail. Detailed study gives the researcher a profound understanding of the cases and all the means needed to demonstrate accurate observations of the phenomena (Olkkonen, 1994; Mäkinen, 1999).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
According to participant comments and discussions with the authors, the company participants generally felt that the utilization of the GDSS brought about various benefits. The following opportunities were provided by features of the GDSS, and their effective combination has been seen to be particularly beneficial in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of tasks related to customer need assessment: • the simultaneous, parallel collection and structuring of large amounts of customer need and requirement statements from different experts, • the organization of the collected information into larger, illustrative categories, which also facilitates the comprehensibility of the gathered data, • the prioritization of the gathered information and, in particular, the rapid recognition of conflicting and jointly important opinions, • the possibility for immediate and convenient commenting and clarification of ideas. The usefulness of GDSS or other methods in customer need assessment can be roughly evaluated using two major criteria: how well (and in which ways) the method help in understanding important customer needs, and how efficient the process is. Naturally, the GDSS features described here and their benefits should support these criteria. Other criteria include, for instance, the usability and flexibility of the methods. In the cases reported here, the usability of the GDSS software seemed to be very good for the participants. According to our experiences and the reviewed literature case studies, the features and benefits of GDSS can also facilitate the in-depth understanding of customers’ needs. When voting on the importance of clarified customer needs, the features provided by the GroupSystems software arrange needs, for instance, based on their average importance. These features have been seen as being very useful; the participants can see in which customer needs are felt to be the most important, which can help in focusing the discussion on the most important customer needs. In addition, the standard deviation of the voting results can be viewed in order for the discussion to be focused on the major opinion differences within the group. According to the comments and the authors’ experiences, the participants have commonly view the focused discussion on the important needs and, particularly, on the major opinion differences as being both very useful and interesting. This discussion appears to have produced a deeper common understanding of customer needs. It has also been a useful way of verifying whether or not these needs have been understood in the same way by different persons and company functions. It is normally difficult to arrange common sessions in which busy customer and company representatives from different functions have to participate for several hours at a time. If the process is time-efficient from the participant standpoint and can, accordingly, be planned to consume as little time as possible, it will be much easier for all the key persons to be committed to provide the need information they possess. The results of the case applications generally support the idea that the participants saw the utilized GDSS features and processes as being rather time-efficient, having brought about apparently significant time-savings in the customer need assessment. It is difficult to say by how much a GDSS can, in absolute measures, shorten meeting times, although it can be said that the participants commonly felt that the GDSS sessions made the handling of several tasks very efficient. In addition, there are several general GDSS studies that conclude that GDSSs can support meetings by shortening meeting times. The use of the GDSS tools and processes has been generally seen to lead to goal-oriented, efficient group work, in which the focus is strictly on the issues at hand. For instance, situations, in which one participant wishes to comment on another's opinion and the resulting further comments, which are extremely common in ordinary meetings and can even cause long delays, can quite often be avoided when participants are allowed to comment on each others’ opinions in writing, even while one participant is still speaking. Written comments and discussions should, in fact, be encouraged, as the comments can be dealt with at a suitable time. Finally, the GDSS session provides time savings after it has ended, because, due to the automatic documentation feature, the meeting documents can be distributed immediately after the meeting. According to the case experiences, the GDSS facilitated customer need assessment in the telecommunications company. It seems that GDSS is well suited for need assessment in the telecom industry, which is often technology-oriented and where the technology push drives R&D rather than the market pull. In such an environment, GDSS offers a good possibility to take cognizance of customer need information. Based on the case experiences obtained from the GDSS, it can be said that the features, which are likely to improve customer need assessment at the telecom company, seem to be the ability to collect a large amount of detailed need information within a short time from an expert group and to analyze the collected information in order to put it into a categorized and prioritized form immediately after the meeting. In addition, the systematicness, which GDSS brings to the need assessment process seems to support the adoption of the method as a continuous procedure in the company. Such a GDSS-based need assessment procedure would seem to be good in an environment which experiences constant changes in product and market requirements as well as in technology and where product life cycles are short; the GDSS process is quick and easy to duplicate and, therefore, customer need information can be easily re-examined in new group sessions. In addition, GDSS can be utilized together with product development personnel in the assessment of new product/service ideas, which have been derived from customer needs; GDSS can be used, for example, in the selection of new R&D-projects. The authors found that combining the GDSS process with the lead user method was very promising for customer need assessment. It was observed that GDSS can be involved in lead-user thinking, which has been seen as being particularly useful for industrial need assessment; as it may not be useful to carry out GDSS sessions for all but the most important customers as well as for those, whose needs are months, or even years, ahead of the others, effective and time-saving group work methods like GDSS can help to better include these important customers to the early phases of product development. GDSS appeared to be a suitable method for use in the group work sessions with the telecom company personnel and lead users. The authors noticed that many general benefits of GDSS also support the group work with the lead-user customers. When the company's lead user group is invited to the need assessment meetings, it is important to increase the meeting efficiency, and according to literature and the authors’ experiences, this can be done with the GDSS. The benefits of GDSS, such as the effective and systematic facilitation of the meetings, naturally increase the possibility of obtaining further valuable information from the lead-user customers. According to the lead-user participants from the case applications, GDSS facilitates the consideration of a future perspective. It seems that the GDSS helped the lead users to think, not only about their present, but also about their future needs. In addition, because the lead users usually experience needs, which have yet to become commonplace in the market place, before majority of the potential customers, it is likely that an effective group work tool can help the lead-user group to concentrate on the future needs of the market place. On the basis of the generally observed benefits of the GDSS and the authors’ own GDSS application experiences, there is reason to believe that GDSS offers significant benefits for the assessment of customer needs in industrial organizations. The authors can recommend the utilization of GDSS, particularly in customer need assessment situations where a large amount of customer information from several different customer representatives needs to be gathered and analyzed.