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31

2016 

5aii)

Describe the main links between the activities of product management and the marketing function of the business.

  • The marketing function addresses the broader context of the products and services to be offered,
  • and product management will focus on particular aspects of the product or product range being managed within the marketing strategy of the firm.
  • In particular aspects of the marketing mix which relate to the product(s) in question will be determined, and provide the main links:
    • Price - initial price, cost of ownership
    • Product - attributes, specification
    • Place - location of sales, distribution
    • Promotion - advertising and other market communication

32

2016

5b)

Compare and contrast the role of a Product Manager in two of the following sectors

(i)  Fast moving consumer goods;

(ii)  Domestic appliances; and

(iii)  Scientific instruments.

The differences in the role of a Product Manager in various sectors arise from

  • the differing target market segments,
  • customer types (eg B2B, B2C...),
  • product life cycles and many other factors that apply to particular sectors.

During the Strategy and Marketing module in particular (and during the MET course in general), students have been exposed to specific examples of the product management function in the sectors to be considered.

Good answers will adopt a systematic framework for comparison between sectors, highlighting the specific factors, and the associated attributes, affecting the roles. Such a framework could include the following factors:

  • The importance (and meaning) of the brand in the market
  • The timescales of product life cycle
  • The elements of the marketing mix (including relevant promotional methods)
  • The significance (or otherwise) of R&D and technology in differentiating the product

Weaker answers will give a comparatively unstructured review of the activities of the Product Manager in the example sectors.


Excellent answers will make use of a systematic framework and provide richer detail in the comparisons, and emphasise the differences (contrast).

33

2016

5c)

Discuss, giving examples, how servitisation affects the product life cycle of complex engineered products.

  • Weak answers will provide an unstructured account of service and support aspects of the extended product life cycle, with minimal reference to the significance of the focus being on complex engineered products.
  • Good answers will review the aspects of product management and the life cycle that need to be reconsidered if the service business is to be successful. From initial market assessment, through design (to enable cost effective support), and manufacture, consideration of the customer’s use requirements assumes a much greater significance than for rapidly consumed products, or even complex engineered products not developed to address the service business opportunity.

Excellent answers will provide a richer range of examples, and explore the range of support solutions that could be offered, highlighting the importance of engaging the customer in the co-design of the solutions. They may redraw the life cycle curve indicating where the different servitisation approaches will impact the curve.

Overall the content that answers could draw on is as follow:

  • An explanation of the meaning of servitisation.
    • Servitisation is the process by which product providers add accompanying services to their product proposition.
    • The growth of servitisation within manufacturing industry has provided opportunities to extend/modify the product life cycle, and hence revenue (and profit) generation.
    • This applies particularly to complex engineered products, where the life of the product in use can be much extended. The aero-engine is a much quoted example.
  • Product firms might offer services for various reasons.
    • Provision of services in mature industries, where the product becomes a commodity and hence the provision of services provides a means of differentiation and source of diversified revenue stream.
    • The provision of services such as leasing is necessary to persuade customers to buy products that are new to the market based on unknown technologies. Therefore, in this case the service comes first and, hence, substitutes product sales.
  • Studies have classified different types of service related to products, namely
    • smoothing,
    • adapting and
    • substituting services.
  • Smoothing services include services that help smooth product sales without altering the underlying product functionality. This includes financing and warranty services.
  • Adapting services are services that expand the functionality of the product or assist customers in using the product in new ways. This could include customization of the product or bundling of the product with other products to provide a bundled proposition.
  • Substituting services are services that replace the purchase of the product for the customer. This includes services such as “pay- per-use”, where the customer substitutes buying the product with paying for the service based on usage.

Servitisation can be seen as a continuum from basic product-oriented services towards more customized, process-oriented services and ultimately to the provision of solutions.

In such a continuum of servitisation, the customer and supplier interface increases from being merely transaction focused to more of a relationship orientation, with deep co-engagement from design and development to end-use.

34

2018

1b)

Discuss, illustrating your answer with examples, how governments can support manufacturing firms of all sizes in responding to the emergence of a new production technology.

  • Basic answer should provide an overview of the role of government in terms of technology, innovation and industrial policies, and what each means and how linked.
  • The basic answer should also describe the issues that may arise as a result of this being a production technology (i.e. need for development and diffusion of enabling technologies) and that there will be a huge range of different needs for technology intensive compared with technology contingent firms.

Stronger answers would

  • (i) describe the context for emerging production technologies in more detail (e.g. Tassey)
  • (ii) draw out issues relating to firms of different sizes (i.e. support for start-ups c.f. SMEs c.f. MNCs)
  • (iii) identify different types of support required at different stages of the emergence/maturity of the technology
  • (iv) highlight that different government support mechanisms might need to be used in combination/synchronisation to ensure effective impact/competitiveness.
  • (v) make reference to different approaches that have been deployed in different countries

35

2018

2 You are the Chief Operations Officer in a large multinational manufacturing firm of construction and mining equipment. The firm’s strategy focuses on delivering industry-leading products and services to customers, and achieving profitable growth for the shareholders.

(a) Describe how the five operations performance objectives could be structured for your firm’s operations.

Basic answer should describe the five common operation performance metrics presented below, and be able to expand upon each one of these as shown in the example for ‘quality’ below:

Stronger answers would present a summary table or description of how these factors and dimensions from the specific context for the company given in the question. E.g. a version of the example given in the lectures for a Steel Mill as shown below:

36

2018

(b) Describe an example of a digitally-enabled solution that could expand your firm’s offerings and increase customer loyalty.

Basic answer will draw upon some of the new digital service solution examples that have been presented in the servitisation lectures, e.g. Rolls-Royce Total Care, CAT fleet services, etc. that illustrate how data captured from clients can be used to improve service (e.g. reliability) and offer additional services:

Stronger answers should describe the value proposition and value capture (revenue streams) of these new models, and specifically how these lead to both an expanded offering and increased loyalty. E.g. CAT demonstrates its value proposition – by clients providing access to data from use of their assets leads to increased value capture, i.e. clients are willing to pay for the benefits gained (preventative maintenance, improved asset utilisation, and assigning jobs).

37

2018

2(c)

Your firm realises that it is losing revenues from the sale of parts and servicing to independent maintenance firms often using replacement parts from third-party suppliers. Discuss how you can use the phases of service design thinking to introduce a service to solve this problem.

Basic answers introduce a solution for the firm structured around the phases of service design thinking:

An example solution could be the company can contact the garage and offer them a service to help fix the vehicle including:

  • a. Information about the equipment and the problem including diagnostics data
  • b. Shipment of spare parts to fix the problem
  • c. Installation instructions”

This will lead to win-win results:

  • The company secures the parts sale
  • Garages more likely to recommend Finning for large, complex jobs because of their closer relationship
  • Independent garages can reduce stock levels
  • Diagnostic information helps garages to fix the vehicle quickly and provide a better service to the customer
  • Vehicle fixed with certified parts, improving the quality of maintenance for Caterpillar equipment owners

Stronger answers would describe not just the possible solution but show how these could be developed step-by-step for each phase of the service design process, and to link this explicitly to the challenges being faced by the firm due to the changing commercial context.

38

2015

3a)

Describe three activities that companies might be expected to undertake within each of the five technology management processes below:

(i)  identification;

(ii)  selection;

(iii)  acquisition;

(iv)  exploitation;

(v)  protection.

Identification:

  • Internal R&D;
  • External networks (KTNs);
  • Patent analysis,
  • Academic conferences;
  • Trade shows;
  • Publications (journals, magazines, other media);
  • Customers / end users;
  • Competitors;
  • Links to universities (funded labs, research, student projects, education, informal links;
  • Trade associations and professional bodies;
  • Consultants, Scouting, ..

(ii) Selection:

  • Link to strategy,
  • Business alignment, Benchmarking,
  • Feature value analysis,
  • Competence analysis,
  • TRM / VRM / trajectories,
  • Business model,
  • Path dependency,
  • Portfolio models,
  • Valuation techniques (DCF, decision trees, options), ..

(iii) Acquisition:

  • Internal R&D labs,
  • Transfer from other business units,
  • Purchase,
  • Licence,
  • Partnerships,
  • JV, Joint / sponsored research with universities,
  • Acquire company,
  • Steal / copy, Reverse engineer / tear-down,
  • Recruit, Open / distributed innovation activities,
  • Open source / public domain material.

(iv) Exploitation:

  • New product / service / process,
  • Enhanced product service,
  • Fusion with existing (internal / external),
  • Sell Licence (Exclusive vs. non-exclusive),
  • Open source / give away (UNIX) / donate,
  • Partnering,..

(v) Protection:

  • Registered IP (patents, reg. design),
  • Unregistered IP (copyright),
  • Secrecy,
  • Branding,
  • Retain key staff,
  • NDAs,
  • Contracts,
  • Trickery (false patent trails),
  • Speed of change,
  • Get competing ideas banned,
  • Set standard / Dominant design,
  • Complexity..

39

2015

3b)

Discuss how a medium-sized manufacturing firm in the automotive sector could apply technology management tools and techniques in order to respond to the emergence of a much hyped but highly uncertain technology such as Additive Manufacturing.

The key issues here are that  

  • medium sized firm, therefore might assume limited capacity to devote time to exploring new technology opportunities.
  • Answer should reference the five technology management processes from part (a) but focus on the ways in which these might be used in the context of process technology.
  • Requires them to think about how a technology at its early stage of adoption that is surrounded by lots of information‘noise’ 
    • (e.g. hard to understand the real costs/benefits,
    • lots of competing technologies and suppliers, etc)
  • High levels of technological and market uncertainty might impact on a resource constrained manufacturing firm
    • (e.g. Is this going to be a key source of competitive advantage in the future?
    • Can they risk not investing in it?
    • Where might investment come from?
    • What sort of timescales?
    • How might the technology be deployed?).
  • The basic answer should demonstrate an understanding of the typical technology management challenges facing a medium sized manufacturing firm, and how technology management tools (such TRM, scenario planning, technology intelligence, MvB analysis etc) might be used to help them deal with these challenges.

Stronger answers might reflect upon the practical challenges of implementing technology management tools and techniques (often designed and developed by large companies) in a relatively small firm. Better answers should also connect the discussion to issues such as the nature of the company’s strategy and ambition, and the sector within which it is operating.

Students could also explore possible different scenarios for the adoption of this technology,ranging from accessing it via a service provider, to transforming the company’s core businessmodel. This could also be considered in the context of different timeframes, and in terms of a phased approach to adoption.

40

2014

4

“In many industries and sectors, innovationis an increasingly distributed process, involving networks of geographically dispersed players with a variety of possible value chain configurations”. Discuss why this is happening and the resulting implications for companies. 

 

General business issues: 

  • emergence of efficient but sometimes fragmented global supply chains
  • development of very high-performance communication and data transfer capabilities
  • emergence of servitisation driven by multiple partners

Technology issues:

  • Speed of change and uncertainties resulting from technology advancements

Globalisation/localisation issues

  • Customisation, ideas between regions

Emergence and development of open innovation

Consider sector, company type, universities and venture capital

 

Implications

  • Need for development of collaboration capabilities (open innovation, skills, culture, IP, metrics etc)
  • Understand Make vs Buy issues throughout value chain, and at the different stages of the technology, product and market life cycles.
  • Opportunity to become more ambidextrous (managing both current activities and address potentially ‘disruptive’ opportunities) and reduce/share risk of attempting this in isolation

 

  • Strategic technology mgmt. becomes more about networks and partners, 
  • IP is more about usage
  • Collaborative capabilities throughout the value chain
  • More effective at monitoring and responding to developments (tech intelligence)

41