Northeastern University Researcher Looks at Role of Technology in New Product Development

March 27, 2008

Marketing professor examines how IT impacts the development of new products

March 27, 2008 – As the burgeoning market for innovation shows no signs of slowing down, many organizations are looking for ways to improve their products and services by using new information technologies (IT). However, there has been no available data proving that utilizing IT actually benefits new product outcomes. Gloria Barczak, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration, is a national expert in the area of new product development (NPD) and is currently researching companies in the U.S. and in Europe to see whether or not utilizing information technology (IT) helps the NPD process.

Working with Professor Fareena Sultan, also from NU, and Erik Jan Hultink, a professor from Delft University in the Netherlands, Barczak’s study focuses on both large and small companies in both the United States and the Netherlands to identify how they are utilizing IT when developing new products. To test how effective the IT tools were in the NPD process, the researchers focused on two factors – speed to market and market performance.

Barczak’s motivation behind this research project was the lack of data available about whether or not the use of technology is helping the process of developing a new product. “There have been assumptions made that IT can help bring a new product to the market faster, but because there was very limited information available, I felt that it was an important area to look into,” said Barczak.  

An initial component of the study included that respondents complete a questionnaire about the different stages in product development and what IT  tools, if any, they used during the different stages. The data collected from these surveys did not reveal a relationship between the use of IT tools and speed to market. However, there was an association between IT tools and market performance.  These findings, which were published in a recent issue of The Journal of Product Innovation Management, seem to discredit the belief that IT tools can help bring products to market faster.   

This is the first empirical study looking at how the use of information technology in the NPD process impacts time to market and market performance,” said Barczak. “While the findings are surprising, the data we have collected helps us to better understand why certain companies are not utilizing new information technologies and the role of IT with regard to speed to market and market performance.”

Another part of the study looked at the barriers that companies face when trying to integrate new IT into their NPD processes.  These include cost, lack of awareness and/or training for the new IT tools, reliance on existing IT infrastructure, and time constraints. Due to these findings, Barczak and Sultan recommend that companies carry out an IT Audit to identify where in the NPD process these IT tools could improve the product’s performance, as well as determine what barriers exist and how they can overcome them to create a better-performing NPD process.

This study is ongoing, and in November, Barczak and Sultan hope to publish another article about their findings, which will focus on comparing the data from the US and Dutch companies involved in the study.

In the classroom, Professor Barczak teaches the principles involved with new product development and how the process works in different fields and disciplines. She is currently serving as Chair of the 2007/2008 Product Development & Management Association (PDMA) Research Competition and is a member of the Academic Committee of the PDMA.  

For more information about Professor Barczak's research, please contact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373-2802 or via email at j.eriksen@neu.edu.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston.  Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world.  The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions.  For more information, please visit www.northeastern.edu.

For more information, please contact Jenny Catherine Eriksen at 617-373-2802 or at j.eriksen@neu.edu.

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