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Second-round financing
Verification of product portfolio Network services verification Usability verification Assistive technology

Support for second-round financing


The client is a start-up company that designs and manufactures "building blocks" for optical networks, including components, modules, and sub-systems. 


To help secure second-round financing, the client needs to verify market demand for product concepts.


With client, define near-term concepts and product roadmaps, and define the target market of system-level manufacturers and designers.

Arrange face-to-face interviews with target customers at their premises. Target respondents are Chief Technology Officers or product managers responsible for component selection for their systems.

Guide these interviews between customer and client, take detailed notes, and flag items for follow-on discussions.


Detailed, structured notes for each customer interview.

Slides summarizing each interview.

Summary report identifying valued product, company, and strategic attributes, as well as those requiring more attention.

List of follow-on actions for client and each customer.

Client benefits

Direct, business-oriented customer feedback for potential funders.

Customer input to help guide product design.

"Face time" with potential customers, and higher profile among target market.

Image among target market as customer-driven company.

Verification of product portfolio


Client is a manufacturer of customer-premises equipment (CPE), including PBXs, key systems and business telephone sets (telsets).


To verify the design and functionality of a concept for a new telephone system, including the number of telsets in the portfolio, the functionality of each, the need for add-on modules, and proposed price structure.


Client defines the "research portfolio" of telsets, including the number of sets and the functionality of each.

With the client, we agree on the target market to be sampled, then recruit 275 telecom managers from mid- to large-size companies to participate.

Data collection is done in simulated sales sessions, using group interviews, a quantitative technique (not focus groups!). We obtain detailed feedback from each respondent, including reactions to each telset, reactions to the overall portfolio, and willingness to purchase.

Using a laptop, we configure a complete portfolio for each respondent's company. They react to the price and indicate how they could cost-justify the purchase.


A detailed report with quantitative feedback on each telset, add-on components, and the portfolio as a whole. The report identifies barriers to acceptance as well as drivers for purchase, and provides thumbnail business cases to justify each respondent's purchase decision. This data set also contains abundant demographic data for further analysis.

Recommendation for number of viable telsets in the portfolio. A summary presentation with key recommendations.

Client benefits

Specification of the optimal number of sets in the portfolio helps optimize manufacturing costs for the client, and contains operations costs for the client and distributors by optimizing inventory.

Network services verification


The client is an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) that wants to explore the opportunity for Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) services.


To verify, with business customers, the market appeal and commercial viability of AIN services.


With client, define target market (vertical market, company size, number of locations, etc.).
Conduct group interviews in two back-to-back stages:

  • First, in the "classroom", educate respondents about AIN: how it differs from switch-based services; time to implement; and how to design AIN service to meet business needs.
  • Next, in the "marketplace", have each respondent evaluate AIN service elements, "create" a service, and then respond to the prospective price customized for its projected usage by that customer.


Identification of valued AIN service elements.

Identification of "bundles" chosen most frequently.

Verbatim "thumbnail business cases" from each respondent, grouped by vertical market, size, etc.

Contact information for each customer indicating a need or desire for telco follow-up.

Summary report documenting research effort.

Client benefits

Customer data to help predict AIN uptake rates, thereby helping gauge service viability.

Customer feedback on AIN service elements, AIN as a whole, and changes implied in interacting with the telco.

Customer input to help guide service bundling definition.

Direct links to "AIN-ready" customers for quick sales.

Usability verification


The client has developed a website that will enable customers to configure telecom services themselves. The client expects that this will reduce operating costs for both the client and customer, but needs to verify that the site can be used with minimal support and training.


To verify ability of telecom managers and end-users to navigate through the on-line tasks, find help if required, and successfully complete the configuration of their service profile.


Recruit appropriate respondents from the client's customer base.

Each participant completes a pre-defined set of configuration tasks while being observed by a usability expert, who notes time required, errors, points of confusion, and other potential barriers to acceptance.


Quantitative measures of time required for users to complete tasks, supporting a quantitative business case as part of sales support toolkit, as well as key marketing message.

A summary report that identifies positive aspects of the design, as well as opportunities for improvement (identified as an action list).

Summary presentation providing overview of the results.

Client benefits

Reduced operations costs for services provisioning.

Reduced operations and training costs for customers, thereby conferring a competitive advantage on the client.

Streamlined, customer-driven design of the website to ensure that support requirements can be anticipated.

Assistive technology design verification


For people with a visual disability, identifying paper money may be a challenge. Obviously, they would prefer to identify their money themselves rather than rely on a stranger.


To verify the design and functionality of a concept for a paper money identifier, including its physical size and usability.


With client, develop 4 working models incorporating the functionality presented through different packaging and user interfaces.

Working with advocacy groups as well as individuals, recruit visually impaired respondents representing the diversity of the population, including both young "hip" users and elderly users with small, frail hands, some hearing impairment, and reduced dexterity.

In a one-on-one interview, each respondent evaluates all 4 models and identifies positive and negative attributes of each, as well as overall preference.


End-user feedback on physical design, user interface, and functionality, including quantitative verification of positive attributes and potential barriers to acceptance.

Identification (and, in a later stage, verification) of the attributes making up the single product that best meets the needs of this diverse target group.

Client benefits

A "customer specification" to guide product design and manufacturing for this particular product.

Identification of valued attributes to help guide design of future products.

Enhanced reputation as a customer-driven company.

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