The development of innovative strength to secure sustainable growth and increase profitability, is a strategic objective, which is currently high on the agenda in many organizations. EARLY BRANDS experience from a variety of strategic projects in the context of innovation has shown that it is in particular the research and development department that makes a significant contribution to achieving the strategic business objectives and which therefore should be enabled to be a significant innovation driver. Current trends and developments, however show, that the internal and market-related requirements to the R&D department are continuously increasing and it is becoming ever more difficult to effectively meet those challenges.
Current trends and challenges in R&D
Shortened product life cycles have significantly increased the innovation pressure. New product developments are demanded from the market in ever shorter intervals. The early development of innovative technologies and processes can make an important contribution to increase the competitive position. Similarly the recruitment and long-term retention of qualified R&D personnel has become much more difficult, due to a dynamic labor market and international career opportunities in conjunction with an increased mobility of the global workforce. In this context it is spoken about a veritable “war for talents”. Also the trend towards cooperation along the entire value chain raise questions for R&D in regard to the manage-ment of Open Innovation concepts and the protection of intellectual property of the company as part of an effective IP Rights strategy.
Last but not least, the increasing digitalization and the associated information exchange leaves R&D with the challenge to introduce structures and measures, which capture and decrypt the information complexity in order to keep and utilize it internally by means of an effective knowledge management.
Thus, it requires a concerted approach and powerful activities in order to successfully meet the current challenges of R&D and at the same time secure the company’s competitiveness. How can such an approach look like and what are its essential features?
Solution: Technology Management Excellence
Technology Management Excellence, developed by EARLY BRANDS, is a comprehensive approach, which comes into effect in all strategic and operative measures in Research & Development. It enables the R&D department to make a lasting contribution to the achievement of strategic business objectives, particularly by technology-based competitive advantages.
Technology Management Excellence is based on three interrelated application areas: Technology Scouting, Technology Planning and Organization. An optimal coordination of the measures within the three application areas enables R&D to successfully meet the rising demands and support business objectives.
While creating and implementing measures and structures, which are optimally aligned to internal resources and requirements, it is essential to consider the individual objectives of the corporation.
Technology Scouting: Identification and utilization of technologies
How to identify and utilize new technologies and processes at an early stage? In the context of activities in the application area Technology Scouting, structures and measures are established, which implement the search for new technologies as a continuous process in the company.
Starting with the concrete definition of scouting orders, relevant search areas are marked. In addition, external scouting networks are identi-fied and integrated. This builds a bridge from the search for new technologies and processes to the integration in R&D development projects. This way the expertise of internal resources and external partners is effectively utilized and established at the right interfaces as a continuous process.
In the course of a consulting project for a large pharmaceutical corporation, EARLY BRANDS developed an international scouting approach, which has been utilized to identify new drug options and packaging technologies for cough- and cold OTC drugs and make them operationally usable for R&D staff. The identified technologies have been processed to recommendations for product development. In this process also the Marketing department has been involved and results were companywide implemented.
Technology Planning: Strategic planning and development of technologies and processes
How to further develop the technology portfolio and systematically close technology gaps? In the context of Technology Planning EARLY BRANDS individual, software-based portfolio management tools are implemented, which enable a targeted management of a technology roadmap. The roadmap identifies, evaluates and prioritizes internally not yet available, hence potentially attractive technologies. This way utilization can be managed effectively and priority based.
In addition, Technology Planning encompasses the common execution of technology projects with external partners like suppliers and customers in the context of co-development projects. In this regard, IP Rights strategies tailored to the company’s individual situation are of particular significance. Such strategies ensure the protection of the company’s intellectual property and govern the usage rights to technological know-how as a result of development cooperation.
An EARLY BRANDS project for a global petfood manufacturer provides a best-practice example in the context of technology planning and utilization. By designing and implementing a cross-functional technology- and innovation management process EARLY BRANDS enabled the R&D and Marketing department to jointly conduct projects, based on corporate objectives, customer-, consumer- and technology trends. Software based tools supported the implementation.
As a result, the R&D costs were reduced, time-to-market was shortened and more innovations were successfully introduced.
Organization: Strategic alignment of the corporation on excellent Technology Management
How do solutions and structures and for a further development of the R&D organization look like? How to support and develop R&D staff and how can their knowledge be made available across the organization?
The registration and selective distribution of R&D resources, such as the internally available know-how, via designated systems and platforms is a significant component of a sustainable R&D knowledge management. Also the development of new project types like corporate ventures and open innovation schemes are part of the organization of Technology Management Excellence. Interfaces, resources and partnerships are optimally utilized in the sense of a win-win result achievement.
For the European business with non-carbonated soft drink of a leading beverage producer, EARLY BRANDS developed strategies and concepts for a technology based corporate venture and identified international partners.
In advance, based on the strategic requirements, concepts and business cases for the venture project were developed and analyzed. That way the access to innovative technologies was secured and the innovation performance of the R&D department was sustainably increased. The departments of R&D, Marketing and Strategic Business Development were successfully integrated in this cross-category project.
The current challenges of the R&D department require targeted measures for a lasting in-crease of the innovation performance and the achievement of strategic business objectives.
Our experience shows: Solutions from the Technology Management Excellence tool box, tailored to the individual customer objectives and requirements of the corporation in general and the R&D department in specific, are highly effective in achieving an increased competitiveness. The approach, which considers internal as well as external interfaces, supports a sustainable further development of R&D competences and know-how, which is meaningfully complemented with external knowledge.
If you are facing similar challenges and you are interested in a discussion about the opportunities Technology Management excellence holds for your company, we look forward to your contact.