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The development for products for the World Wide Web has been very challenging for many firms due to the changing technology of production. Firms have been forced to use the flexible work process to integrate the changes in the consumer needs and production technologies into their products to meet the customer needs. The approach has made the production process very costly for the organizations. The company is faced with the pressure of how to balance the competition from bigger players like Microsoft, satisfying the consumer needs and managing the costs of product development. The solution provided is for the company to integrate the client needs using the available technology solutions.
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The main issue in this case study is how Netscape can create an effective flexible process. The Netscape Company had adopted the flexible product development process when developing its easy-to-use web browser. This product has very high level of technical complexities and this created a challenge for the organization. This product required an integration of many software and hardware platforms. The new product would compete with Microsofts flexible-product development process. The Netscape Navigator faced an uphill task in this new product due to the competition of the software giant firm. The competition offered by Microsoft took a very threatening direction for Netscape. Microsoft had adopted a dramatic strategy that depended on the internet talent. This prompted Netscape to react by adding feature changes and modification of formats to its version of the products. These changes made by the latter increased the cost of making the products.
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Market Identification and Needs
Netscape operates in a software development market that is very competitive due to emergence of larger companies like Microsoft. The market needs satisfaction in the services provided. This market is very competitive due to continuous changes in the technology of production. To meet the needs of its consumers, Netscape adopted the flexible product development process that allows it to continually modify the products to meet the emerging needs. The designers sense the customer needs through the customer feedback; they seek out alternative technical solutions and then integrate these solutions into the product modification.The Netscape Navigator is a product that enables users to access the World Wide Web. The company modified its Navigator series as per the needs of its market by introducing new beta versions that include new features and products. Because of its continuous renovation efforts, the company was able to compete effectively with Microsoft.
There are many alternative technologies and products that compete for the products in the market hence forcing firms to continually innovate.
This industry if faced with rapid changes in technology. In order to remain competitive in the market, a firm has to constantly look for new technologies for production.
The flexible process method is very time consuming and may be expensive due to the many changes to be made to the products upon receiving feedback from the customers.
Netscape faces an uphill task in this new approach to its products development. There arose many alternative products and companies that competed for the same market thus posing a challenge to this firm. Netscape had to find a way to stay on top of this market despite the competition from companies like Microsoft. The challenge was further compounded by the technical complexities in developing the web browser. This dynamic market created a very uncertain business environment that prompted firms to be on guard for any new feedback from the consumers. Operating in this market is very difficult due to lack of concrete decision about products to release to the consumers. It kills creativity from the designers and leaves them with the option of continuous innovation.
Microsoft is the major competitor in this industry. It also uses the flexible product-development process in developing of its products. This heightened level of competition from a bigger firm like Microsoft further pushed Netscape to increase its product development plan by being alert to the consumer feedback and how best to respond to these feedbacks. In January 1996, the firm introduced the Navigator 2.0. This was immediately followed by the Navigator 3.0 only seven months later. Every time then team came up with a beta version of its product according to the needs of the consumers. The new prototype was released in Beta 0, Beta 1 and Beta 2 respectively. All these seem to be a rush in the creation of products to meet the needs without allowing the different versions of the same adequate time to attract more functional responses. The aggressive approach taken by Netscape may have worked to ensure that the firm was on top of the completion. However, took several stages of trial and error whereby a significant amount of revenue was used.
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a) Decision Criteria
- The company to adopt the flexible product-development process by allowing the changes in the technologies and market during the product development cycle.
- Integrating the consumer needs in the products using the available technical solutions.
- Allowing the evolution of the product design into the implementation phase.
Choices C and D will be more expensive as compared to A and B. Using the available technical solutions (B) will help push the costs further down than the first choice (A).
The technologies or production remain the same over a specified period of time
The cost of product development is proportional to the number of feedbacks integrated in the product modification.
The market is purely competitive.
c) Evaluation of Alternatives
Internal staff can be used to provide feedback so as to save costs.
Being able to make changes instantly using the customer feedback.
Risks of the imperfection in the earlier product prototypes destroying the brand reputation.
Users of the initial prototypes may abandon the product for the competitors
Lower costs of product development
After implementation of the new changes
The best technical alternative is rapidly evaluated and integrated into the system.
Costs of evaluating the alternative technical designs and solution.
d) Preferred Alternative
Keep track of the evolving relationships between various tasks.
Having a dynamic procedure for checking the work schedules and design changes.
May sometimes present a challenge to implement.
- The Best Alternative
Alternative B is the best among the three. It is relatively less costly as compared to the other two. The cost of making changes using this model is very low. There is faster implementation of the changes and checking of the system to determine the success of the new changes. I f the modifications have not provide the desired outcome, the designers can speedily test other methods and use them.
The internet software market is very competitive due to the rapid changes in the needs of the consumers. There are also constant changes in the technology used in the field. Many companies have adopted the flexible product-development process to meet the constantly changing customer needs. Netscape realized the benefits of the flexible product development which it aggressively ventured into approach to enhance the level of competitiveness of its products. The challenge is how to lower the costs of using this product while at the same time ensuring the he emerging needs are met. To achieve this, Netscape should consider integrating the customer needs by using the available technical solutions.