Digitalization in R&D Expert Study


Which digitalization issues are strategically relevant for Research and Development?

The digitization and related dynamics may affect the competitiveness of research and development and the overall success of the company.

Examples include new internet technologies, software solutions, innovative offers in the social networks or the booming digital start-up industry. This expert study shows which topics of digitization in the context of “Research and Development” are particularly relevant.


Study design

The study was carried out as part of a research by Hanze University Groningen with support of the management consultancy EARLY BRANDS. The study results are based on a Germany-wide, cross-industry online survey of more than 600 selected top decision-makers and experts from research and development.


Current challenges of digitalization

The dynamics of digitalization pose major strategic and operational challenges for most research and development teams. From the perspective of the surveyed decision makers and experts, the top-4 challenges of digitalization lead to…

  • Increased efficiency demands on research and development activities (83%)
  • Increased customer demands regarding new products and services (80%)
  • Increased urgency to provide competition-critical future topics and technologies for operational use (76%)
  • Increased demands on speed in R&D processes and networks, internal and external of the organization (70%)


Best Opportunities through the use of digital tools and solutions

Digital solutions are supposed to support R&D staff making their organizational, coordinative and analytical activities more efficient and more effective. The top 4 opportunities through digital solutions from the perspective of research and development:

  • Support the management of technologies, future topics and R&D activities (76%)
  • Support virtual collaboration (73%)
  • Support the analysis and depiction of the economic viability of R&D projects (66%)
  • Enable location independent coordination of R&D projects (63%)


Relevance of stationary and mobile applicability

Operational efficiency of digital solutions and convenient data access demand for stationary and mobile applicability. Due to the increasing popularity of mobile devices like smart-phones and tables the location independent, e.g. cloud-based data-access is becoming more and more relevant. Resulting from high and further rising demands on data security in R&D, stationary solutions with local data storage keep being in high demand. Usage requirements:

  • Stationary: 31%
  • Mobile: 20%
  • Both: 49%


Desired value of digital solutions for research and development

Research and technology management require digital solutions for strategic support and the facilitation of successful team collaboration. The top-4 performance requirements of digital solutions and tools for application in R&D:

  • Acceleration of R&D activities (80%)
  • Easier planning of R&D activities (71%)
  • Align and further develop the existing technology portfolio (63%)
  • Earlier identification and development of crucial trends and technologies (60%)



  • Dealing with digitization strongly influences the future success of research and development.
  • Respondents see in digital tools and innovative software offers an important key to meet the increasing efficiency and performance requirements.
  • Suitable digital solutions are designed to support research and development in the strategic orientation of R&D topics, accelerate its activities and effectively connect employees and partners. The increased use of digital solutions is planned especially in the early stages of identification and development of technological opportunities and strategic future topics.
  • Respondents need digital solutions which are both stationary and mobile usable. Additional significant requirements are high safety standards and optimal integration into the existing IT structure.
  • In summary, R&D decision-makers expect digital solutions to provide decisive competitive advantages in terms of accelerated processes, strategic orientation of the R&D portfolio, and facilitated collaboration among its teams.


Catch the Future…!