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Innovation strategy is the lifeblood of successful companies, and the essential foundation for companies that want a long-term competitive advantage. Despite massive investments of management time and money, innovation remains a frustrating pursuit for many companies. Innovation initiatives frequently fail, and successful innovators have a hard time sustaining their performance. An innovation strategy overcomes these obstacles through a commitment to a set of coherent, mutually reinforcing policies and behaviors aimed at achieving a specific competitive goal. Good strategies promote alignment among diverse groups within an organization, clarify objectives and priorities, and help focus efforts around them.

RKS is a comprehensive innovation, design, development, and engineering firm. Whether creating an innovation strategy from scratch, or updating an existing we, we assist at all stages of a company’s journey. We employ our advanced psycho-aesthetic methodology to solve complex problems that address design, development, and regulatory issues. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep understanding of multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions.

Our Clients

Innovation Consulting

Creating an innovation strategy begins with a customer-centric process and clear definition of vision, mission, objectives and key results. Crafting this strategy is a collaborative consulting process between our client stakeholders, business partners, and our team. We work through this process together, beginning with our P/A methodology to research and synthesize insights about the market. These insights come from customers and competitors and are influenced by business needs and white spaces that may exist for short-term and long-term innovation. We utilize these insights about the market to help us craft a custom innovation strategy.

P/A Methodology

Our unique P/A methodology is a highly advanced design-thinking tool that helps our team solve strategic business problems through a shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approach to innovation strategy. The cornerstone of our methodology is our unique ability to synthesize research into actionable insights to help guide our thinking. Our P/A methodology has seven phases that begins with research. In the initial research phase we usually perform customer research and benchmarking, which is then synthesized into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the opportunity zone. This opportunity zone is where we can examine, identify, define, and forecast the needs that innovation strategy should address. At the same time, we identify and define Key Attractors that help engage particular target groups. We narrow these attractors to those few that attract and engage these groups the most, and cause them to adopt a company’s products and become evangelists. This process helps create a robust foundation for an innovation strategy.

Innovation Research

The research phase is a consecutive and interactive process that provides a foundation for all later decisions in the strategy creation process. At times research is also revisited to understand why and how key decisions drive emotional resonance. The research phase usually begins with customer research. Our research team works with our clients and business partners to understand who their consumers are and how they live their lives. We employ primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography, as well as secondary sources such as internal client documentation. In addition to customer research we also do market research. A product or service’s success is usually measured by its performance against its competitors. Through market research, we create a landscape of potential competitors, how they position themselves, and what their key differentiators and attractors are in the marketplace. These research approaches are used to establish holistic and important insights that are later synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive strategic choices.

Innovation Opportunity Zones

Benchmarking is a tool for finding long-term sources of innovation by identifying opportunity zones. In benchmarking, customer and competitive research is synthesized into qualitative insights that identify a relative opportunity zone for innovation. The opportunity zone is where gaps in consumer emotions and desires are not met by current industry offerings, and where improvements in the market can be made. Our P/A Map, a key component of the P/A methodology, is a visual representation of the opportunity zone, which combines existing solutions with personas and key psychological needs. With the opportunity zone mapped, our cross functional team can have a visual benchmarking of the white space representing strategic opportunities for innovation

Prototyping Innovation Strategy

Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing ideas to life and allow potential consumers to evaluate, test and share their feedback. In innovation strategy, prototyping is used to develop, test, and validate proof of concepts iteratively. This is the first place designs come to life. A proof of concept (POC) is an exercise to test a design idea, an assumption, or a technology in a rapid fashion that enables the team to continue on the development of this idea or quickly pivot and explore new solutions. We can use feedback from these tests to make adjustments to products themselves, and the underlying assumptions around them. Leveraging our in-house prototyping facility enables the team to quickly evaluate and iterate on ideas without having to coordinate with external partners. Internally, beta prototyping helps our team to better understand customer needs, and test our assumptions that will be used to make the innovation strategy.Secondary Research Methods.

 

Innovation Consulting

Creating an innovation strategy begins with a customer-centric process and clear definition of vision, mission, objectives and key results. Crafting this strategy is a collaborative consulting process between our client stakeholders, business partners, and our team. We work through this process together, beginning with our P/A methodology to research and synthesize insights about the market. These insights come from customers and competitors and are influenced by business needs and white spaces that may exist for short-term and long-term innovation. We utilize these insights about the market to help us craft a custom innovation strategy.

P/A Methodology

Our unique P/A methodology is a highly advanced design-thinking tool that helps our team solve strategic business problems through a shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approach to innovation strategy. The cornerstone of our methodology is our unique ability to synthesize research into actionable insights to help guide our thinking. Our P/A methodology has seven phases that begins with research. In the initial research phase we usually perform customer research and benchmarking, which is then synthesized into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the opportunity zone. This opportunity zone is where we can examine, identify, define, and forecast the needs that innovation strategy should address. At the same time, we identify and define Key Attractors that help engage particular target groups. We narrow these attractors to those few that attract and engage these groups the most, and cause them to adopt a company’s products and become evangelists. This process helps create a robust foundation for an innovation strategy.

Innovation Research

The research phase is a consecutive and interactive process that provides a foundation for all later decisions in the strategy creation process. At times research is also revisited to understand why and how key decisions drive emotional resonance. The research phase usually begins with customer research. Our research team works with our clients and business partners to understand who their consumers are and how they live their lives. We employ primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography, as well as secondary sources such as internal client documentation. In addition to customer research we also do market research. A product or service’s success is usually measured by its performance against its competitors. Through market research, we create a landscape of potential competitors, how they position themselves, and what their key differentiators and attractors are in the marketplace. These research approaches are used to establish holistic and important insights that are later synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive strategic choices.

Innovation Opportunity Zones

Benchmarking is a tool for finding long-term sources of innovation by identifying opportunity zones. In benchmarking, customer and competitive research is synthesized into qualitative insights that identify a relative opportunity zone for innovation. The opportunity zone is where gaps in consumer emotions and desires are not met by current industry offerings, and where improvements in the market can be made. Our P/A Map, a key component of the P/A methodology, is a visual representation of the opportunity zone, which combines existing solutions with personas and key psychological needs. With the opportunity zone mapped, our cross functional team can have a visual benchmarking of the white space representing strategic opportunities for innovation

Prototyping Innovation Strategy

Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing ideas to life and allow potential consumers to evaluate, test and share their feedback. In innovation strategy, prototyping is used to develop, test, and validate proof of concepts iteratively. This is the first place designs come to life. A proof of concept (POC) is an exercise to test a design idea, an assumption, or a technology in a rapid fashion that enables the team to continue on the development of this idea or quickly pivot and explore new solutions. We can use feedback from these tests to make adjustments to products themselves, and the underlying assumptions around them. Leveraging our in-house prototyping facility enables the team to quickly evaluate and iterate on ideas without having to coordinate with external partners. Internally, beta prototyping helps our team to better understand customer needs, and test our assumptions that will be used to make the innovation strategy.Secondary Research Methods.

Innovation Strategy

Innovation strategy culminates as a combination of innovation processes that drives internal and external company strategy. In addition to using research, benchmarking, and prototyping to generate insights that locate opportunity zones, innovation strategy also includes the value proposition to our client, their brand, and their business. This value proposition is often closely matched to the core capabilities of their business, and these core capabilities create a competitive advantage that can be used to defend the innovation strategy. Additionally, we often look for opportunities for our clients to develop new capabilities based on a need or opportunity which can be done through strategic acquisitions, purchasing capital equipment, or attracting new talent to execute on that strategy. When the internal and external insights of the business are effectively combined, an overall innovation strategy can drive future decision-making at the highest and lowest levels of a business. Future decisions around branding, marketing, roadmapping, and technology now benefit from this carefully created innovation strategy.

Innovation Marketing

Marketing is essential for informing the customers and prospective customers about the product, its features, and why they should buy it. Innovation Marketing is the process where the producers of a new product or service develop a consistent and coherent strategy to communicate their new offerings. This process positions a company in the market, while informing customers how their products or services address customer needs. One of the main features that distinguishes innovation marketing from traditional marketing is the fact that it signifies a departure from old marketing strategies. In many cases, innovation marketing must be used to highlight how the results of innovation strategy create customer value by using marketing methods that have not been used before.

Innovation Branding

In a highly competitive world, where consumers have choice and make decisions with the click of a button, brands are the signal in the noise. Innovative companies and products need to find a voice that speaks to fundamental needs and aspirations of their target customers. These needs and aspirations are used to craft a brand strategy around innovation. Brand strategy distills complex ideas and emotions into a singular, memorable essence that people will remember and continuously associate with the product, and many times the company itself. Innovation brand strategy should create an ongoing framework for branding across difficult mediums. As an integral part of innovation strategy, branding can be either building a new brand or reinvigorating existing brands and reimagining them for their current customers.

Innovation Roadmapping

The innovation roadmap is an important strategic benchmarking tool and the basis of future innovation. In practice, the roadmap serves two

functions. All existing projects are regularly evaluated on the basis of the innovation roadmap. All new ideas are evaluated on the basis of the roadmap and their strategic contribution. To be effective, the roadmap must be known and accepted throughout a company. This acceptance starts with the top management, which must use the roadmap to make project decisions. The process of Innovation roadmapping itself serves an important step as well. By including senior management in the process, management becomes a continuous control process that increases the likelihood of success of future products. Fortunately, the innovation roadmap is not set in stone. Just as the environment and the underlying conditions can make obsolete initial assumptions, the innovation roadmap must also be adaptable. The innovation roadmap itself is continually updated and adapted to reflect changing strategic and environmental conditions.

Technology Scouting

Innovation strategy assumes a holistic understanding of key technology trends and vectors. New and innovative products usually require a collection of technologies that must be carefully chosen for their usability, economic value, and long-term viability. New technologies are being created constantly by companies and vendors around the world. Often these technologies are marketed and sold to industry insiders and existing customers rather than to a new customer or business. As a result, these new technologies are often hard to find with limited applications, but have the potential to make a large impact in the right products. In other cases, where demand is high for some technologies, or the supply chain is constrained, personal and long-term relationships make it easier to secure rights to use a specific technology. Technology scouting is not only the strategic component of matching the product roadmap with technology vectors, but the ability to secure and use the technologies to make new products.

Innovation Strategy

Innovation strategy culminates as a combination of innovation processes that drives internal and external company strategy. In addition to using research, benchmarking, and prototyping to generate insights that locate opportunity zones, innovation strategy also includes the value proposition to our client, their brand, and their business. This value proposition is often closely matched to the core capabilities of their business, and these core capabilities create a competitive advantage that can be used to defend the innovation strategy. Additionally, we often look for opportunities for our clients to develop new capabilities based on a need or opportunity which can be done through strategic acquisitions, purchasing capital equipment, or attracting new talent to execute on that strategy. When the internal and external insights of the business are effectively combined, an overall innovation strategy can drive future decision-making at the highest and lowest levels of a business. Future decisions around branding, marketing, roadmapping, and technology now benefit from this carefully created innovation strategy.

Innovation Marketing

Marketing is essential for informing the customers and prospective customers about the product, its features, and why they should buy it. Innovation Marketing is the process where the producers of a new product or service develop a consistent and coherent strategy to communicate their new offerings. This process positions a company in the market, while informing customers how their products or services address customer needs. One of the main features that distinguishes innovation marketing from traditional marketing is the fact that it signifies a departure from old marketing strategies. In many cases, innovation marketing must be used to highlight how the results of innovation strategy create customer value by using marketing methods that have not been used before.

Innovation Branding

In a highly competitive world, where consumers have choice and make decisions with the click of a button, brands are the signal in the noise. Innovative companies and products need to find a voice that speaks to fundamental needs and aspirations of their target customers. These needs and aspirations are used to craft a brand strategy around innovation. Brand strategy distills complex ideas and emotions into a singular, memorable essence that people will remember and continuously associate with the product, and many times the company itself. Innovation brand strategy should create an ongoing framework for branding across difficult mediums. As an integral part of innovation strategy, branding can be either building a new brand or reinvigorating existing brands and reimagining them for their current customers.

Innovation Roadmapping

The innovation roadmap is an important strategic benchmarking tool and the basis of future innovation. In practice, the roadmap serves two functions. All existing projects are regularly evaluated on the basis of the innovation roadmap. All new ideas are evaluated on the basis of the roadmap and their strategic contribution. To be effective, the roadmap must be known and accepted throughout a company. This acceptance starts with the top management, which must use the roadmap to make project decisions. The process of Innovation roadmapping itself serves an important step as well. By including senior management in the process, management becomes a continuous control process that increases the likelihood of success of future products. Fortunately, the innovation roadmap is not set in stone. Just as the environment and the underlying conditions can make obsolete initial assumptions, the innovation roadmap must also be adaptable. The innovation roadmap itself is continually updated and adapted to reflect changing strategic and environmental conditions.

Technology Scouting

Innovation strategy assumes a holistic understanding of key technology trends and vectors. New and innovative products usually require a collection of technologies that must be carefully chosen for their usability, economic value, and long-term viability. New technologies are being created constantly by companies and vendors around the world. Often these technologies are marketed and sold to industry insiders and existing customers rather than to a new customer or business. As a result, these new technologies are often hard to find with limited applications, but have the potential to make a large impact in the right products. In other cases, where demand is high for some technologies, or the supply chain is constrained, personal and long-term relationships make it easier to secure rights to use a specific technology. Technology scouting is not only the strategic component of matching the product roadmap with technology vectors, but the ability to secure and use the technologies to make new products.

Industries

Innovation strategy is the long term solution that addresses the rapid change affecting all industries. This rapid change is being driven in part by exponential technologies like cloud computing, AI, machine learning, IoT, and JIT manufacturing. It is also being driven by changing consumer preferences, at a rate that is unprecedented. What consumers want in one month may not be the same need the next month. Just-in-time manufacturing has moved from a niche business use-case, to a broad business solution to the fast-paced market. Sustainability, once a business buzzword, has become a key competitive advantage and customer differentiator. These types of changes have not only affected companies’ business strategies around current products and services but around the future roadmap. While innovation strategy is different depending on the industry, it solves the same problem for every industry, which is how to adapt to an increasingly complex business environment.

Consumer 

Consumer products are now driven by short product life-cycles, changing consumer preferences, and exponential growth in key business technologies. Innovation strategy allows companies to respond to this new reality by creating differentiated products that utilize technology to provide unique and lasting value to consumers. Often, innovation strategy is the best weapon to battle inertia in successful firms. Consumer products that are highly popular and profitable often feel invincible until they aren’t. A good innovation strategy understands the end consumer needs as distinct from preferences. While preferences can change quickly, needs are core to the individual and often change slowly. By focusing on needs, innovation strategy helps companies focus their business consumer segments that are growing, while remaining agnostic to the specific product that fulfills those needs.

Medical

Medical products often uniquely take many years to develop, engineer and GTM due to complex regulatory frameworks. At the same time, they must solve current and future needs. For medical products, strategy can be deceptively simple: find the clinical unmet need and design a solution to fulfill that need, and the core competencies of an organization or it’s competitive advantage. The reality is that the strategy should consider a variety of sub-factors. Understanding these sub-factors is the work of innovation strategy for medical devices. This innovation strategy requires consideration of short, medium, and long-term factors such as opportunity, regulatory status, claims, clinical adaptability, reimbursement availability, intellectual property, and supply chain constraints.

Industrial

Industrial products often need to stand up to high utilization, long cycle times, long-term use, and be able scale. They also need to be adaptable to new industrial processes and end products. Innovation strategy for industrial products is deeply rooted in the process requirements, technical

needs, and strategic goals of the company. At the same time most strategies miss the most important need: scale. Industrials products are uniquely successful not when they are the first to market, but when they allow their users to scale fast. Scaling fast is a key competitive advantage for industrial companies. Innovation strategy around industrial products finds a way to consider scale and these other factors combine the right technologies with the right products.

Digital

Digital products are increasingly defined by delivering iterative value through MVPs and quick interaction. The innovation tied to these digital products must not only address current and future customer needs and wants, but also the company’s short, medium, and long-term strategic objectives. Successful innovation strategy for digital products focuses on the customer journey. Understanding how customers meet their needs now and in the future provides a basis for long-term innovation. Developing a strategy around this customer journey is often challenging because it requires true empathy with the customer. However, when the personas have been mapped to clear needs, digital innovation strategy can be a successful competitive advantage for years to come.

Open Innovation Solutions

Innovation strategy is fundamentally forward-thinking. Among the traditional industries that exist now, new ones will be invented, and innovation strategies will help create these new growth industries. New and existing companies will develop their business around a strategy that speaks to fundamental human needs, and uses the latest technologies, manufacturing processes, and marketing techniques. Our approach to innovation strategy is based on the core needs and desires that drive behavior. As a result, we help a company or business create innovation strategy not only around their current company or business, but around the future one.

Industries

Innovation strategy is the long term solution that addresses the rapid change affecting all industries. This rapid change is being driven in part by exponential technologies like cloud computing, AI, machine learning, IoT, and JIT manufacturing. It is also being driven by changing consumer preferences, at a rate that is unprecedented. What consumers want in one month may not be the same need the next month. Just-in-time manufacturing has moved from a niche business use-case, to a broad business solution to the fast-paced market. Sustainability, once a business buzzword, has become a key competitive advantage and customer differentiator. These types of changes have not only affected companies’ business strategies around current products and services but around the future roadmap. While innovation strategy is different depending on the industry, it solves the same problem for every industry, which is how to adapt to an increasingly complex business environment.

Consumer 

Consumer products are now driven by short product life-cycles, changing consumer preferences, and exponential growth in key business technologies. Innovation strategy allows companies to respond to this new reality by creating differentiated products that utilize technology to provide unique and lasting value to consumers. Often, innovation strategy is the best weapon to battle inertia in successful firms. Consumer products that are highly popular and profitable often feel invincible until they aren’t. A good innovation strategy understands the end consumer needs as distinct from preferences. While preferences can change quickly, needs are core to the individual and often change slowly. By focusing on needs, innovation strategy helps companies focus their business consumer segments that are growing, while remaining agnostic to the specific product that fulfills those needs.

Medical

Medical products often uniquely take many years to develop, engineer and GTM due to complex regulatory frameworks. At the same time, they must solve current and future needs. For medical products, strategy can be deceptively simple: find the clinical unmet need and design a solution to fulfill that need, and the core competencies of an organization or it’s competitive advantage. The reality is that the strategy should consider a variety of sub-factors. Understanding these sub-factors is the work of innovation strategy for medical devices. This innovation strategy requires consideration of short, medium, and long-term factors such as opportunity, regulatory status, claims, clinical adaptability, reimbursement availability, intellectual property, and supply chain constraints.

Industrial

Industrial products often need to stand up to high utilization, long cycle times, long-term use, and be able scale. They also need to be adaptable to new industrial processes and end products. Innovation strategy for industrial products is deeply rooted in the process requirements, technical needs, and strategic goals of the company. At the same time most strategies miss the most important need: scale. Industrials products are uniquely successful not when they are the first to market, but when they allow their users to scale fast. Scaling fast is a key competitive advantage for industrial companies. Innovation strategy around industrial products finds a way to consider scale and these other factors combine the right technologies with the right products.

Digital

Digital products are increasingly defined by delivering iterative value through MVPs and quick interaction. The innovation tied to these digital products must not only address current and future customer needs and wants, but also the company’s short, medium, and long-term strategic objectives. Successful innovation strategy for digital products focuses on the customer journey. Understanding how customers meet their needs now and in the future provides a basis for long-term innovation. Developing a strategy around this customer journey is often challenging because it requires true empathy with the customer. However, when the personas have been mapped to clear needs, digital innovation strategy can be a successful competitive advantage for years to come.

Open Innovation Solutions

Innovation strategy is fundamentally forward-thinking. Among the traditional industries that exist now, new ones will be invented, and innovation strategies will help create these new growth industries. New and existing companies will develop their business around a strategy that speaks to fundamental human needs, and uses the latest technologies, manufacturing processes, and marketing techniques. Our approach to innovation strategy is based on the core needs and desires that drive behavior. As a result, we help a company or business create innovation strategy not only around their current company or business, but around the future one.