Business Plan: Business Plan the Product

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Business Plan

The product that I am developing is a handheld device that can instantly translate over forty different languages. This device will have recognition software that will allow it to distinguish languages, even through different accents and dialects. Whereas such devices on the market today can translate text to text, this device will have speech recognition software, allowing it to translate audio to audio. Our company can outsource the production of this product and handle the marketing. I propose that I be able to head the new division that would be created for this product.

This product, currently code-named Babelfish, is not currently in the marketplace. (The name will need to be replaced when we take it to market due to copyright restrictions.) The current products of this type are text-to-text translators, most of which only come with translational capabilities in a few different languages. Handheld devices that can access Google Translate have as much translational capability as the current translators on the market. Speech recognition software exists already, but is seldom applied to the handheld translator market. What makes this product special is that it can process speech based on accents and major dialects, using complex algorithms. This product essentially takes the multilinguistic capabilities of Google Translate and adds the speech recognition dimension.

Initially, the device will be roughly the size of a smartphone. Eventually, it is hoped that this device will be small enough to wear as an earset, like a Bluetooth. The result would be near-instant translational capabilities for all of the world's major languages. This device would change the way that people communicate with one another. Language barriers would be broken down and without the need for human translators the communication process would be sped up.

Further adaptations would allow for more obscure languages, slang and content refinements. These updates could be sold separately as a regular update and service package. The device could be updated automatically online in exchange for a monthly fee. This would generate ongoing revenues from the installed base, and allow the company to market a stronger product, knowing that having repeat business is not entirely necessary.

The technology that underlies the Babelfish is a combination of off-the-shelf translational capabilities and proprietary speech recognition software. The speech recognition software was being developed for another product that was shelved. However, the architects of this software have realized the potential for different applications for the software and have followed through with this new concept. The software we currently have is the most sophisticated speech recognition software ever developed. The further refinement of this software for the Babelfish application also opens the possibility of finding other uses for the core functions of the software.

The Babelfish will be a standalone device. It will contain the following components -- a casing, speakers, a processor chip, a display screen, a microphone, a headphone jack, a battery and an on/off button. Most of these components can be sourced from suppliers we already use -- the casing, speakers, microphone, screen, jack and chip are all standardized components that we can modify slightly if necessary. Our primary contribution will be the software, which will be embedded on the processor. This software will include a full set of languages -- we have capabilities for an estimated forty languages at present -- and will also contain the speech recognition software as well. A simple operating system will be utilized to provide a user interface with the product. The screen can be mono-or-duotone. There is little anticipated need for color, except for stylistic reasons.

The product will be packaged with an instruction booklet, a charger and a CD that can be used to load the software onto the computer. The software will not contain our speech recognition algorithm, in order to better protect our intellectual property, but it will enable our customers to enjoy full text translational flexibility on their computers. The CD will also allow users to manage their device, adding and removing languages and service packs to suit their needs. This function is important because the updates sold as part of our service package will eventually bump up on the memory limits of the portable device. Users needing to add a new language will likely need to delete an existing language from the device. The PC software will allow them to do this without losing any languages. This feature will be especially important for travelers as they will be able to tailor the device to which country they are planning to visit. A person touring Southeast Asia, for example, would be able to carry the full slate of Southeast Asian languages. If the traveler's next trip is to Africa, the Southeast Asian languages can be swapped out for African languages.

Target Markets

There are a number of potential target markets for this device. It is anticipated that the Babelfish will appeal to three different markets. The first is comprised of business travelers. Business travelers need to be able to communicate in a large number of languages. It has been said that the world's official language of business is broken English. Such a situation has high potential for communication breakdown. The Babelfish resolves this. Business travelers need to have devices that are compact for ease-of-travel, yet are sturdy. They often need devices that can handle multiple languages and multiple dialects within a language, in particular those business travelers who are frequently operating around the world.

Vacation travelers will also find the device useful. These travelers often resort to cumbersome, inefficient phrasebooks, hopelessly rudimentary local language skills and hand gestures to communicate. The Babelfish would allow them to communicate around the world with locals, in the local tongue, in real time. For these travelers, functionality is the most important selling point, and the Babelfish dramatically outperforms all other options.

The third potential customer group is comprised of those people who live in multicultural societies. In many parts of the world, communication is done through a lingua franca -- Bahasa Malay, Hindi, broken English and broken French are among the many examples. The Babelfish disposes with the need for linguas franca; speakers can simply use their own language. In addition, the dialect feature will be of tremendous benefit. Many major languages including Spanish, English, Chinese and French are spoken in a number of dialects around the world. These dialects are not always mutually intelligible. When communicating in the same language between different major dialects, the device will be able to translate that dialect back to the speaker's native dialect. For example, a person from Hong Kong will speak Cantonese, which would be translated into Mandarin for the Beijinger with whom the Hong Konger is having a conversation.

To Market

Bringing the Babelfish to market will require a number of critical steps. In terms of operations, the first step will be to create a new division to support the product. There are a couple of existing product departments into which the Babelfish product could be placed until it becomes established in the market. Our Electronic Consumer Products Division is the best candidate. Within the Babelfish department, an organizational structure must be created. A president will be needed to head the effort. A lead product development engineer will need to be brought into the project. In addition, a small multifunctional team will be needed to support this development, including representatives from engineers, purchasing, marketing and finance.

Production will need to be determined. The first step will be to source all of the different components. Once we have determined which of our suppliers we will be using on this project, we will need to find a location to assemble the project. This will involve an analysis of our own facilities for capacity and appropriateness, and also an analysis of potential external facilities, beginning with those with which we already have a supply relationship. It is expected that due to synergies with our existing product lines, we will be able to utilize our current logistics network to physically bring the Babelfish to market.

The marketing element will be a multi-step process. During the development process, the marketing department will need to determine the characteristics of our most likely target markets. We have an idea of who these people may be, but we will need to test those ideas with research. Once we have a sense of our best target markets, we will find out what they may want from such a product and tailor our software and hardware designs around those needs. This may involve producing multiple versions of the product to suit the needs of our multiple target markets.

With a product and a target market, specific aspects of the marketing plan will need to be finalized. A name will need to be chosen for the product, since Babelfish is not our intellectual property. In addition, a price point will need to be set. This will be done in accordance with two main considerations. One is our strategy. This product is unique and is technologically advanced… [END OF PREVIEW]

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