Developing a disruptive technology or product in the market requires effective market research that clearly indicates the products’ preference among customers and existence in the market place. Failure to engage inclusive market research that involves all stakeholders would result into failure of the product to survive the evolving consumer demand as was in the case of HP’s Kittyhawk. Its product, which was stipulated to improve the market share for the organization based on its traditional competitive products, was faced with organizational and market deficiency leading to its failure in the market. It is in this respect that the write up analyzes the HP Kittyhawk project.
The case of Hewlett Packard’s (HP) Kittyhawk project is an example of successful international company that tries to fit a new innovation in addressing the need of specified customers. According to Christensen (2006), in June 1992, the HP Disk Memory Division (DMD) assigned the Kittyhawk, a 1.3 inch diameter disk drive project, to autonomous project group in order to grow the organization’s market share. He notes that the Kittyhawk project was influenced by high-performance in HP products within 5.25- 3.5 inch disk divers which were more competitive with higher mega capacity than the normal industrial one. Therefore, by creating this 1.3 inch disk drive, the company thought it would expand its computer market share and make HP the key player in disk-drive industry.
Christensen (2006) notes that the major goal of Kittyhawk project was to increase its hard drive market share by reducing the physical size and increasing the data storage capacity of the disk-drive. Additionally, the Kittyhawk project was to achieve $100 million revenue rate after two years of its launch into the market. This was to satisfy the customers’ demands which were to get a smaller, cheaper and higher utility of electronics in the market. This project was majorly necessitated by the need to achieve a corporate revenues environment.
Yes, the Kittyhawk project group followed Christensen’s recommendations. As pointed out by Christian (2010), Christensen had noted that for an organization to survive, especially when inventing new innovations, it must obtain critical resources from its environment. Additionally, Christensen & Bower (1995) note that before an organization decides to launch a new technology, establish new channel of product distribution, as well as to develop a given product, they must first secure customers.
However, Christensen (2006) points out that the efforts made by HP to delineate the project to autonomous group developing and assessing product’s market share were correctly organized. He notes that this move was correct as most of the functional management DMD and R&D section managers were against the new investment. However, the executive financial and technical support assisted the Kattyhawk team in obtaining the necessary resources for the project. For example, Spenner, the DMD’s manager, provided support for Kittyhawk project to protect it from being governed through the traditional developmental processes. The project was thus developed based on the desire of supporting executive members. Christensen (2006) notes that the executive’s support of the project created HP’s cultural biasness as selected team members were required to creed before they join the Kittyhawk team.
As pointed out by Christensen (2006), the problem in Kittyhawk market research is that the team ignored potential consumers for Kittyhawk products such as desktop and notebook computer section. He adds that the team pursued new mobile computing industry which had no specified components. Moreover, Christensen points out that the team moved further from consumer needs and settled on unproven PDAs market area which had technical issues.
However, the right move that was made by the Kittyhawk project group is to hire a market research firm primarily specialized in high-tech marketing. But the problem was that the Kittyhawk product was so revolutionized that even such experienced market researchers could not generate effective demand for the product. However, Christensen (2006) notes that the hired firm generated the products’ market research from Consumer Electronic Show findings through addressing the HP’ engineers on the products’ preference among consumers. The Kittyhawk team and HP organization were then criticized for assuming the role of consumer in deciding what is best for their consumption, thereby making the decision not to be fruitful. In turn, the product lost the visioning of being the new hill in the computer market share. Additionally, even though Kittyhawk has correctly engaged in conversation with broad electronic industry, such as mobile computing and gaming, they did not fully establish the value of the disruptive technology on consumer preference. Therefore, I would rather trust a consumer based market demand evidence rather than organizational based market demand.
Moreover, the failure of the Kittyhawk project resulted into the company’s business retreat. According to Christensen (2006), HP’s inappropriate actions meant that there was no further investment in DMD. He notes that the firm’s agitation to value budgetary goal rather than pursuing innovative technology resulted into the project’s failure which psychologically affected various HP’s stakeholders.
Finally, there is a need for the Kittyhawk project group to recognize the evolution of customer segment and look for ways of creating new distribution channels to take advantage of the initial market. It is also imperative for the market researchers to recognize and differentiate disruptive products from sustaining ones. Moreover, the top HP managers and Kittyhawk team leaders should pursue a joint-venture with Nintendo or citizens to enable them to boost the product’s name and the company’s branding.
In conclusion, it is evident that conducting an effective market research that accurately presents the product as based on consumer demand is essential for introducing disruptive technology into the market. Therefore, all the associated market requirements should be addressed before a product is launched into the market.