Speed to market is a potentially misguided pursuit. Leading companies are investing to achieve mastery of the product development life cycle. Achieving speed to market is one way companies are leveraging their improved product development processes for competitive advantage. Speed, however, is just one dimension -- quality, efficiency and capacity are others -- of this optimization.
The foundation for mastery of the product development life cycle is a repeatable, measured, managed process. The process must encompass the entire life cycle -- new product concept, design, pricing, implementation, filing, implementation, launch and post-launch analysis. There is no single solution to this multifaceted challenge. However, there are key components that companies are utilizing with impressive results.
Stronger management of data, rules and calculations throughout all stages of the product development cycle -- from initial prototypes, through design specifications, to product implementation -- is one area in which technology is meeting the challenge. Product rules repositories and
configuration engines are streamlining the design and deployment of new products, reducing redundancy and improving communication. These products also create process memory, enabling future products to leverage insights and investments from prior launches. Without this information infrastructure, companies quickly bog down under the weight of managing multiple product launches -- a significant competitive constraint.
Analytics also play a central role in mastery of the product development life cycle. Retrospective analysis of product launches is critical for process improvement and "in-campaign" product adjustments. Additionally, the ability to understand emerging experience -- withdrawals, lapses, utilization of guarantees, deaths, etc. -- in light of current and projected economic conditions can lead to lower capital requirements, better risk management, and improved profitability for current and future products.
Carriers can achieve mastery of the product development life cycle. Concurrent product launches, hundreds of product changes and speed to market with increasingly sophisticated products are possible within a robust framework.
Michael Dippolito, Nationwide
Early discussions about product development with IT can help shape the possible solution and steer clear from complex, expensive efforts down the road.
Bob Reynolds, Minnesota Life Insurance Co.
Addressing product development challenges involves a three-pronged approach focused on people, process and technology.
Tim Attia, Camilion Solutions
Streamlining product development processes, building "product chassis" of common components, adopting agile enabling technologies, and modifying organizational structure to support product innovation all are ways to improve speed to market.