Constructing customer understanding for innovation process: Case study of a life science company

Laura Kanto*, Kirsi Polvinen, Anne Sisko Patana, Jussi Pihlajamaa, Pekka Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


    This paper discusses how the customer understanding is created and spread among the organization in knowledge-intensive life science companies. The case company in the analysis is a diagnostic company and customers are hospital and private laboratories (business-to-business context) and also key opinion leaders. Research methods used in the study were qualitative face-to-face interviews and literature review. Interview questions were designed to elicit open-ended responses from participants. Ten participants were selected from different departments within one business unit, which had new discontinues products in the innovation pipe line. The data show that there was no common practice to collect, save and analyze the customer data for creating customer understanding and only few employees involved in the innovation process really knew the customers. And although open innovation has changed the role of customers also in life science industry, in this case study, the most of the customers were used as information source and only key opinion leaders as consultative partners. Promoting and preventing factors in both constructing customer understanding and utilizing customer understanding in innovation front-end were identified. Further study is needed especially about what kind of customer information is critical for the front end of the innovation process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication2012 Proceedings of Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology: Technology Management for Emerging Technologies, PICMET'12
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    EventPortland International Conference on Management of Engineering and Technology - Vancouver, Canada
    Duration: 29 Jul 20122 Aug 2012


    ConferencePortland International Conference on Management of Engineering and Technology
    Abbreviated titlePICMET


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