Muthu, development area manager and
vice president in the Internet services
technology group for Wells Fargo in
San Francisco, California, USA. He
runs the research and development
(R&D) and “incubator lab,” where
teams develop tests and track market
reports, customer usage rates, survey
responses, user interviews, industry
analysis and other data that might indicate shifts in the market.
“However, competitive intelligence
on its own has little value,” Mr. Muthu
Only when you have formal processes to synthesize and share that data
with project teams across the organization does it add worth to the process.
Project professionals and their sponsors
can then ensure they are delivering projects that align with business strategy.
“You have to be able to incorporate
ideas into the product development
process, and make decisions based on
your understanding of the data and
why it’s relevant to the project,” Mr.
Wells Fargo product and technical development teams review market
data and customer feedback at every
milestone to ensure their choices continue to align with the company’s core
strategy to create customer satisfaction
by delivering solutions that solve their
Keeping an eye on market data also
helps minimize risks, Mr. Muthu says.
When his project teams begin product
development, they release prototypes to
gauge customer and market response.
This feedback helps them shape the
To address customer need and feedback for real-time data on credit card
use, the lab rolled out a pilot project in
March 2010. A mobile alert tool sent a
text message to users as soon as a card
was used or passed a certain monetary
Customer feedback and media buzz
around the pilot was positive, which
led the company to speed up rollout of
Extend timelines if necessary.
“You have to build time into the schedule
to look at what the competition and
customers are doing, and determine
how that will affect your project,”
says John Reh, About.com, Seattle,
Washington, USA. “It heightens your
chances of success.”
the project. It went nationwide eight
“We start small,” Mr. Muthu says,
“and if the market responds well, we
know it makes sense to expand.”
By tracking customer feedback,
organizations can also unearth unmet
needs. Those insights can translate into
game-changing products, says Fran-
cesco Bellifemine, PMP, IT service
delivery manager in the oil and gas
sector for Exprivia, an IT company
in Milan, Italy. The organization has
a division called the Experience Fac-
tory, where R&D teams track customer
trends and market data. They generate
ideas that then get channeled to project
“It gives us a process to evolve great
ideas into market innovations,” Mr.