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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Materials Innovation Ecosystems and PLM

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CloudBusinesses are desperately seeking and exploring new strategies, tools, and technologies to cope with the accelerated innovation environment that has been created due to a connected economy and rapid advancements in technology. Otherwise, as famously said by GE’s past CEO Jack Welch, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Innovative new materials are needed to accompany new product forms and manufacturing technologies. These new innovations require integrative thinking and collaboration across multiple domains, i.e., design, software, and hardware, and multiple scientific and engineering disciplines including the social sciences. Those enterprises who adopted Open Innovation (OI) are actively seeking new partners to address their innovation challenges. Searching the web, patent and literature databases, attending consortia and conferences, publishing “needs” to Corporate Open Innovation portals, or to external network providers, such as Innocentive, are some examples of approaches used to find new partners. Some companies are trying more open and collaborative approaches by implementing digital solutions that allow creative and collaborative engagement of groups directly on their needs. These are still relatively new, but compelling examples, such as Local Motors and GE Appliances’ FirstBuild, indicate that they can power new levels of cost effective, fast innovation.

In a recent research paper CIMdata classified Enterprise Innovation Management (EIM) digital solutions in the following way:

  • CLASS 1 – Innovation Engagement solutions
  • CLASS 2 – Innovation Guidance solutions
  • CLASS 3 – Innovation Delivery solutions

Figure 1
Figure 1–CIMdata’s Classification of EIM Solutions
(Innovation is a balance of Creativity and Process Discipline)

CLASS 1 – Innovation Engagement solutions encourage the creative and collaborative engagement of people in large groups, e.g., employee communities or external networks created to address the innovation needs of an organization. One example is the LITECAR Challenge by ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) at Local Motor’s website[1] that produced many ideas, including new composite materials.

CLASS 2 – Innovation Guidance solutions help structure and support business strategy, planning, and decision making. For example, in regards to materials innovation, activities such as formulating ideas on future market offerings, creating product and technology roadmaps, defining programs and projects that will develop and implement the new materials, along with resource planning would be managed in this class of solutions.

CLASS 3 – Innovation Delivery solutions that support the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information across the extended enterprise. This is where PLM plays a significant role, and PLM solution providers are working hard to improve their offerings to support new material innovation and development.

Download paper here.

These three classes of solutions are typically sponsored and managed by different groups in an enterprise which leads to fragmented processes and data. In addition, while many PLM providers are seeing benefits from partnering with CLASS 2 solution providers to build out their front end capabilities, such as ideation, there is currently less interest in partnering with CLASS 1 solution providers which creates new market opportunities.

Here are a few ideas:

Could PLM search be extended to include silo’ed databases including those created with use of CLASS 1 solutions and with powerful visualization and filtering algorithms, point to ideas or point potential collaborators to the product development teams to solve their development problems faster?

Can PLM provide a personalized dashboard with apps for users to get the latest information on their interest areas, as in Dassault Systèmes 3D Experience platform having Netvibes Feed Reader?

Can PLM also host the data created by enterprise OI activities, e.g., companies, people, solicited and unsolicited ideas etc., and allow checking for redundancy or novelty of ideas coming in as a comparative database?

Net, there are real opportunities for PLM to play a significant role in support of their clients’ Open Innovation strategies. Efficiencies enabled by PLM in finding, building, and managing new materials innovation networks will surely increase PLM’s value for the enterprise, and will be appreciated by clients.

For more discussion on this topic plan to attend our PLM Market & Industry Forum - click here for more information.

Suna Polat

For more information on Suna visit.

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