Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Building for an effective portfolio of marketable offerings 1: setting a manufacturing context

Posted in macroeconomics, startups by Timothy Platt on September 8, 2014

I have written a number of times in this blog on the issues of developing and balancing an effective, competitive inventory of goods offered, and certainly for businesses like supermarkets that seek to offer a comprehensive range of product offerings for members of their local market space. For an online business-oriented discussion of this see, for example:

Online Store, Online Market Space – part 19: balancing an inventory

I note that as a point of distinction from what I will write about here. My goal for this posting is to begin a discussion of factors and considerations that would help a business to more effectively determine its best range and selection of offerings that it would bring to its market, focusing here on manufacturers. And in this context, I use that term in its most general sense to include providers of both products and services as coming from original development and production sources. The dynamics there are very different from what would be found in determining a best inventory portfolio for a product aggregator and reseller such as a large supermarket or department store, or a large online retail business.

And for purposes of this discussion, I would divide potentially available tools and approaches for managing manufacturer product and service portfolios into two general, broadly defined categories:

Internal to the portfolio in focus: When a business develops and offers a suite of products and/or services, its overall goal is generally to assemble a set of offerings that complement each other and in ways that make all of what they offer more competitively attractive in their marketplace. This often means offering combinations of products, and of products and supportive services that work together and that collectively increase perceived value for the purchasing consumer, and from their perspective. Think of this approach as analyzing this business development problem from a point of sale, and from a marketing and viral marketing perspective and from how the full set of marketable offerings provided fit together in this context.
External to the portfolio in focus: As an alternative, product and service portfolios can be developed, evaluated and understood from how they connect into larger business systems. As a starting point for that, consider risk and benefits issues as they arise when assembling a mix of product and service offerings. For purposes of this discussion I would propose doing so in terms of a risk accepted and timing based categorical model for thinking about innovation that I provided in Innovation, Disruptive Innovation and Market Volatility 3: modeling and understanding change and innovation per se 2.

This posting is the first installment of a new series in which I will systematically discuss and explore product and service portfolio development. I will discuss these tool categories, beginning with internal-to-portfolio tools beginning in my next series installment. After at least briefly outlining both of these two basic tool sets and how they can be used together, I will turn to discuss shorter term tactical and longer term strategic planning, and how a marketable portfolio determination fits into and in turn shapes the overall business model in place. And I will discuss this from both an established business, and from a startup and early stage business perspective. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Startups and Early Stage Businesses. And also see Business Strategy and Operations and Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory.

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