Ross Pascoe, product development director at Stannah Stairlifts, has revealed to AMP the company’s research and development (R&D) strategy and what it means for retail partners.
How important is R&D to you as a company and what sort of approach do you take towards managing R&D?
R&D is the key to everything we do whether it is looking in to new opportunities, discovering a new way to solve a problem or simply having a better understanding of our customers and users. It’s through R&D we discover the little gems that can make what we do better.
Our approach is simple in that we have a product road map showing where we want to be and a technology roadmap showing the R&D we need to do. There is in additional stream which is deliberately less defined but simply allows and supports our designers and engineers to look for problems, come up with an idea, make a quick prototype and demonstrate the potential.
Why is it important for retailers and dealers to work with suppliers that are committed to R&D?
It’s important that our customers and users know that the product and service they are investing in is constantly being reviewed, improved and evolved. It’s easy to think that R&D is all about the next new product which is true some of the time but it’s equally if not more important to continue to challenge what you currently do and listen to the people living it as usually this is where the best insights come from.
When it comes to recent R&D activities, what are you as a company most proud of?
Being a family business means we are free and supported to try out new ideas. For example, we’ve been working with the Helen Hamlyn Centre for nearly six years and our partnership with them has not only sparked new product opportunities but also how we take our products through our design process and engage with our customers to ensure we have fully captured their needs.
How do you see your R&D strategy developing in future?
That would be telling but without giving to much away it all builds from our vision of providing independence in and around the home. No doubt IoT has a major part to play in our future PD but it’s critical we stay true to our strategy of human centred design, utilising new technologies to achieve this.
What are the main barriers and challenges to R&D in the mobility equipment industry?
The biggest challenge is change. We find a lot of customers and users don’t like change. Weather its continuing to sell a product they have confidence in or a new seating position for traveling up the stairs. Both require people to do something different. It’s all well and good coming up with new technology and ideas but you have to be able to communicate the reasons for it, give confidence and demonstrate its better.