Recently I was exploring the world of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and read an excellent Whitepaper from Aras Corp, one of the leading PLM solution providers. The Whitepaper called “Product Complexity, Digital Transformation, and the Innovation Imperative- The race to reinvent how complex products are developed is here“.
This made me a little jealous and a little wishing that ‘we’, across the whole of innovation management, could not have one of these platforms available today. Some claim that they do this already but seriously they do not.
I have argued we do need to change the way we undertake innovation and its development. I am really frustrated by the legacy we have in our processes, systems and the ways we approach innovation and its development lifecycle. We still break it up into separate parts, dealing with the pre-ideas stage, collecting insights, the idea management, then into a pipeline or portfolio system, that all have so such manual and siloed approaches built into this. These are the legacy systems. We do need to bring innovation management into the 21st century where everything is transformed through a platform that allows total integration.
So as I read about the solution that Aras provides to the designers within Manufacturing to manage Product Lifecycle Management complex systems and products, you have to wonder why this cannot be extended into all innovation’s management. Of course what “sits” on the platform will be different but it has much that can be adapted and aligned in the principles of any design.
What is clear anyone that does develop a fully integrated platform designed for innovation will certainly disrupt the current way products are managed. We can actually get into true lifecycle management across not just one business but within collaborations across functions, companies, and entire ecosystems, to contribute.
This whole idea of a unified environment for innovation simply solves so much of our current constraints within this area. It allows all involved, those within the management of innovation and those who are actively supporting or needing to be well-informed, to all operate within the same environment. We can for the first time build a system of record, we can through “open” technology provide an approach that is flexible, scalable, upgradeable, and fully visual to all. A truly open innovation platform. The whole momentum of collaboration becomes accelerated.
The idea of platforms today is they can be overlayed over your existing systems (well most) if they have some level of digital interface. This allows for some levels of migration from older systems as they migrate to this innovation platform.
The ability to connect across functions, across different domains, different environments and entities really make this a highly valuable proposition. We really do need an innovation platform and does the way that Aras has set about this, give us a working concept design?
Just take a look at the visual from the Whitepaper from Aras
Aras Product Lifecycle Management, Product Innovation Platform
Now think of the whole innovation management need. Can you visualize all our separate systems feed up and onto the platform to form the much-needed end-to-end lifecycle management across all the innovation management design, or need?
I like the way Aras are designing their Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform system in broad functional designs.
This gives food for thought in designing functionality into a broader innovation management platform.
Function one is connect teams to contextual information, much like idea management software today undertakes. It is designed for pulling together the fragmented architecture and present information in immediately usable ways. We often need to collect ideas from multiple sources and channels and then attempt to translate these into value concepts to be explored across different functional groups. The design is working across system and functional boundaries.
Function two is focused on managing configurations across disciplines and functions complexity, often what is (poorly) attempted by portfolio management software. Here they are opening up for all to access, they can build this system of record in hand-offs. contributions, build functionality for design reviews and establish traceability. All involved can view progress, design and view all the necessary linkages
Function three is designed to enable collaborations across teams, functions, and disciplines. The platform provides open access at different levels and supports both formal and informal collaborations and exchanges. Established processes and rules can be built in, you can create an audit trail that records decisions etc. Now I know this sounds like some of the current idea management software providers attempt to provide but is this on a platform? Is this in a cloud? Is this potentially open to others outside one organization? Is this easily scalable without significant rework or cost? is this going from idea all the way through to commercialization?. The answer for all operating in our present space is an emphatic no!
Function four supports all phases of the product lifecycle. We lack functionality within today’s product development process to go beyond certain stages of the process. The effect is silos of trapped information that become buried, forgotten or simply not passed on. We cannot design one system for managing across the full product lifecycle design. To have the capability for modelling, designing, simulation all are requiring separate systems. Why? Let’s get out of the 20th century and get into this digital century in how we manage innovation, please
The design outcomes we need to determine
The whole ability is to see beyond just producing a physical product as the end result, we can move concepts into the exciting realm of having digital twins. Digital twins offer the new exciting way of seeing products in a virtual environment. One where you can draw in the final consumer, into contributing to these designs far more earlier, having a consistent reiteration environment. This gives us a far more extended prototype capacity for all to see and improve upon without expensive mockups or reworks, sometimes only offering crude ones that do not represent the finished product in so many ways. Because we can’t provide better prototypes or designs we can miss vital feedback. Having digital twins within the innovation development process can change that. We can design the concept digitally for people to see and get a digital “feel” about what it can mean in the final form
The other good things if we move over to a dedicated innovation platform we can consistently upgrade tools, methods, communicating mediums, repositories for access and recording. Just like the present software offerings this can still be managed and deployed supporting on-premise, hybrid or in cloud installations as your system of choice that can then be simply changed if and when needed or you become comfortable in opening up to others, to collaborate and build in a secure platform space.
Finally, we might finally get to adopting an open standards approach to innovation management to achieve integrations across other enterprises and we finally begin to establish a common language of innovation understanding. We really do break down barriers and build our trust in an innovation system built on data and a system of record and that, for all involved, puts a higher level of trust into the innovation management system. Even board members can become more engaged- oh careful, that is for many a dream or a nightmare!
Am I dreaming or is this a reality? If it is a reality then how long? Innovation Management needs to come of age, a digital age where platforms form the connected future. Who is willing to take up this challenge and radically alter the innovation landscape forever? Be the disrupter that innovation actually needs to inject a sea-change of how we manage innovation and view it, as an integrated design system, all can see and work within. A true corporate system closer to the heart of the Enterprise to belief in, draw confidence and support for the value it can provide.