The definition of product innovation has evolved dramatically over the past five years as manufacturers digitally transform their businesses. The data, processes, and people that touch planning, design, R&D, and engineering continue to expand, so manufacturers need to unify data, digitize processes, and extend collaboration. This approach also needs to encompass the decision support systems and tools that accelerate speed to market and value, and continual improvement of products and customer experiences.
Product, supply chain, manufacturing, and service domains in organizations, along with their partners, are working more closely together, enabled by 3rd platform technologies such as cloud, analytics, mobile, AR/VR, and IoT; in fact, according to IDC Research, 3rd platform tech is growing at almost 10%, vs. flat to negative growth for 2nd platform, classic enterprise application technology.
Organizations that take a use case approach to determining how they digitally transform innovation will be the winners in their respective industries. This will enable a focused effort that considers the current situation with the company, market, and customers, as well as the goals, objectives, and technology required to support each use case. "Digital transformation" (DX) is complex and means different things to different manufacturers but having a use case framework as a guiding force will empower the organization to leverage the constant flow of data from products, processes, and people, continually meet customer needs, and produce consistent, quality products and experiences.
Dynamic customer demand, complex supply chains, and complex, customized products mandate that manufacturers establish a digital innovation platform to connect products, supply chain, manufacturing, and service. There are multiple domains inside and outside organizations that must work together to achieve a consistent, high quality customer experience with products and services. Use cases such as lifecycle analytics, advanced digital simulation, and collaborative, open innovation are enablers of this extended, digital approach to innovation.
The future of innovation will be augmented, enabled by use cases based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and generative design and development – the primary benefit is that this will free up organizations to accelerate the pace of innovation. The biggest winner in this new, emerging world will of course be the customer, as demand will be met more quickly, customer needs addressed precisely, and products and services will be perpetually evolving without any interruption in the customer's experience.
I just published a collection of the leading DX use cases that are impacting product design, R&D, engineering, and product lifecycle management now and in the near future: Digital Transformation Use Cases for Product Innovation. I'd welcome a conversation about this research and where you see product innovation headed in this age of digital transformation.