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How do you find information on new products?
I am writing a reasearch report on the topic of how busy professionals like you keep on top of all the new developments in your industry. I am specifically referring to knowledge about new products, technology developments, and answers to problems you encounter during your work. I have already interviewed a dozen or so professionals and here are my findings so far. I would continue to share my research here and would be thankful if you could share your thoughts and experiences.
How do busy professionals find information on new products/technologies?
- Online research is replacing the traditional trade journals. It seems that executives are still receiving some print publications but executives are not reading them. They are going online whenever they have a need to learn something new.
- Invite sales staff of a supplier for lunch-and-learn. A few executives have told me that if they need latest information on a new product or technology, for example office printers, they simply invite their current supplier or a competitor to join the team for lunch. In one hour, they have an opportunity to look at new products, learn about competitive offerings, and ask all the questions.
- Hang out in forums. These can be special interest groups on LinkedIn or forums that attract their peers, but executives find that they can engage in very focused discussions, ask questions, and figure out what is happening in their industry without having to read a lot of detailed reports.
- Attend event(s) that attract their peers. I am being told while they are busy and employers are tightening budgets for sending their employees to conferences and trade shows in which most of the benefit goes to the employee, but they try to attend at least one or two events each year to learn about new products and network.
Specifically for new products/services released by less visible companies (startups, local SMBs, etc), I find the LinkedIn feed useful. Of course it takes to create a network made of a broad variety of people, or to invest a little time "following" people which has been, for that purpose, a great add-on to the platform.
I also tried our very own convetit recently (broad question shared with no specific mentions to products, to see if examples would be brought) and results were fairly valuable, especially with innovative solutions.
In a way it relates to your 1st finding, I thought the directed use of online sources was worth mentioning.
Hope it helps a bit and good lick with your paper!
Is the print version of the trade journal on its way out?
I have spoken to a few more executives and while all of the research above has been validated, what surprised me a bit was that so few of them were receiving print copies of industry journals and even those who did, telling me that they do not read them as often as they did in the past. And this is true not just for the digital generation professionals but even for those of us who were used to reading trade journals religiously in the past.
I wonder how many of you receive print copies of business publications, and if you do, whether you read them.
I do think print versions of trade journals are on the way out. I save copies of market research journeys in case I might have to refer to them, but then I seem to throw them out. It's like magazines where I have just stopped my last two subscriptions with Real Simple and O which I have had for 10-20 years. There's just no time to read or scan physical magazines when you can get information online curated for you. So, not just online research, but just being online can draw the information out if you have the right searches or interests tagged.
I would like to add that my area of expertise is with consumer products where new products have ways to target their market. I have no issue finding things targeted to me, but things targeted to other demographics are less likely to cross my path.
The Not-so-obvious Use of YouTube for Professionals
We can all agree that YouTube is a great place to hang out if you have time to waste, but let us not forget the power of video for business professionals. Inititially, I would enjoy watching videos from companies on their websites (even if they were technically hosted on YouTube) to learn more about their products but these were sleek videos and had a little bit of that corporate communication feel to it -- in other words, not as authentic.
Then one day several years ago, while researching the operation of film extrusion equipment, I stumbled on a YouTube video as a search result. It was filmed by an engineer at a plant and was very informative for me. As I dug deeper, I found many other videos by employees who often use their mobile phones to record videos about equipment, products, technologies, and so forth. Considering that we are living in a world that someone is always recording the most mundane aspects of their lives, employees are doing the same at their workplaces. While this might be giving away trade secrets, if you want to learn a lot about something, try doing some searches on YouTube.
As part of my research recently, I have heard that some other executives are starting to use YouTube in their work as well, though, I was surprised that many are unaware and still think of it as a time-waster.