Accenture’s Saksena: ROI Usually Doesn’t Meet Expectations

Washington -- When it comes to product innovation, the return on investment usually doesn’t measure up to management’s expectations.

That was one of the messages that came across at “Learning from Failures,” a panel at the CTAM Summit here Monday afternoon, held by Asheesh Saksena, director of North American cable strategy at Accenture.

Saksena, presenting results from Accenture’s analysis of some 1,000 companies relative to innovation strategies, execution and results, said the company’s research indicated that innovation failed to live up to management’s ROI expectations 96% of the time.

After the presentation, Saksena said that cable as an industry has done “better than average” in terms of its ROI innovation rate, without disclosing a percentage.

Unlike some industries, like consumer electronics and retail, which have been too isolated in the development of products and services, cable’s advanced offerings have succeeded more often due to collaboration with other entities.

“There’s intelligence from different standpoints in working with [delivery] networks, devices and content providers,” he said. “A lot of time and joint effort is spent working [toward a product release], so there is a certain amount of checks and balances built into cable’s product innovation.”

The remarks dovetailed with Saskena’s presentation remarks that companies looking to innovate should spend time working on products that can work across or in conjunction with different platforms, and that they should place increased emphasis on trialing different iterations of the good or service.

“It’s very important to track product development from the original plan, so management is not caught unaware,” Saskena said, adding that it may be better “to launch a relatively good enough product” and then let market forces shape what features and pricing are the most attractive to consumers.

Responding to a question from the audience, Saskena said there had been movement toward management becoming more open to innovation that doesn’t necessarily hold the promise of becoming a $1 billion product. He added that more companies are giving the go-ahead to products that “can lock in customers, can prevent erosion of their base and have options into the future,” even if they may not have the potential to generate $1 billion in sales.

He attributed that trend to Internet protocol, which is opening more doors across the telecommunications industry. To that end he listed, cable, satellite, telcos, media companies and devices, noting that they’re “all friends or foes at different times.”