PDMA Research Forum Highlights

For the first time in three years I spent significant time at the annual research forum that precedes the annual global Product Innovation Management conference.  For those of you, like me, that are unfamiliar with the format, content and value of this event I thought I would provide a quick overview.

This is an academic forum attended predominately by PhDs or PhD candidates during which they present their most recent research for peer feedback.  The two day event is divided into two tracks with two sessions each day.  The sessions are approximately 90 minutes and during that time you will see three to four papers presented.

While the event is mostly academic, there were some practitioners in attendance in addition to me.  I found it interesting that there were numerous comments by the researchers that they enjoyed the fact that there were practitioners in the room but I also thought it interesting that the marketing for the conference doesn’t really market to practitioners…something for me to consider next year if I’m selected to volunteer again.

During the Q&A sessions there was often lively debate on the scientific validity of papers presented or the overall contribution to a given research thread.  As a non-academic I found it interesting to watch and listen to the debates.

Now it sounds like this might be a really boring and heady discussion of ivory-tower types but I assure you it wasn’t.  Sure, the topics presented are based on scientific research so it’s not necessarily new product development for dummies either.

I would recommend this session to anyone who is looking to move further out towards the “fuzzy front end” of NPD or is looking to develop a new way of dealing with NPD in your organization.  It’s probably not for the small business market but being a member of a small business, I did learn a lot about NPD that I could apply with my technology partners.


While not required, I would recommend pulling you quant analysis and stat books out and refreshing your vocabulary.  At times, the math and analysis presented is a bit much for your “normal” practitioner but it came back quickly.

I asked a couple questions and no one looked down at me because I don’t have a PhD.  They were excited to entertain “real-world” questions and were also very excited to continue the conversation after the formal presentations to help bring the managerial impacts a little further down to the implementation layer.

If you’re planning on attending the PIM 2013 conference next year in Phoenix, AZ at the Arizona Biltmore, I encourage you to strongly consider adding two additional days to your itinerary to take in the leading edge of NPD research.

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