At Mälardalen University (MDH) Roberto Verganti is cooperating with local industry, such as ABB Robotics and with Munktell Science Park. Here he will continue his research from Harvard University, Politecnico di Milano and Copenhagen Business School.
– I like the research environment at MDH and the research school I’m working with is creative and has a lot of outstanding doctoral students. There’s also a strong technical tradition here and good cooperation with industry.
According to Roberto Verganti, the recipe for successful product development is bringing out a product that gives a new meaning and value of the product for its users. The companies that succeed with this can radically change their product category and thereby make their brands very successful. Here Swatch, Apple and Nintendo are good examples. They were not necessarily the first to produce the technology for their product, but they were the first to produce that which made them special and extra valuable for the consumers.
His research is presented in his book “Design-Driven Innovation”, published by Harvard Business Press, and which was rated in 2011, by the Academy of Management, among the six best global business books. He is also a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and has been featured in the global press, such as the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. In his research Roberto Verganti discusses whether innovation should really be user driven, and arrived at the conclusion that, when you aim at radical change, it should not.
– You don’t start with the users when you want to radically change since they can seldom imagine breakthrough products.
Nintendo’s Wii game is an excellent example of a product that changed the whole meaning of a product category: from a passive immersion into a virtual world open only to adepts, into an active physical activity that enables socialization with everyone. The rivals had no choice but to follow; Nintendo had a good lead, however, which gave them big competitive advantages.
– In conventional product development, companies are looking for new technology that gives better service to the customers based on their existing needs. But this doesn’t give any breakthroughs, and hardly create a significant competitive advantage says Roberto Verganti.
He is of the opinion that companies should gather experts from a number of different areas that take a completely new perspective on the users. Then they can find a way of developing a product that answers the needs that the customers did not even know they had. Only then can the companies develop products which change the customers’ ideas about an entire product category, such as Apple’s Ipod or Swatch watches, which not only showed the time but also became a fashion accessory.
Apart from working with local industry, Roberto Verganti will be developing more international contacts. He considers that MDH, together with these companies, now have the chance of discovering new paths.
– I want to get high-tech companies to approach the market in a better way and to be a support for them during that process.