R & D Moves to Partnership Model: Technology Strategy is Critical

August 30, 2012 - 0 Comments

Recently, the Economist highlighted the shift from government funded models to private funded models for R & D.  As we know, R&D serves as the font of new ideas and leads to mass transformation of industries.  Concepts such as the internet and satellite communications resulted in part from publicly funded R&D.
This is a real change for leading corporations. This puts more pressure on manufacturing companies to find and leverage key technologies to deliver new products and compete.  Most manufacturing companies focus on core capabilities. They typically licensed or purchased technologies that enabled continued operation.  But these were not partnerships. This could be very effective for a ‘fast follower’ company.  Innovative companies have typically used a range of R & D funding sources, especially internal, to fuel innovation.
But the rules are changing! New industries are emerging that require a new strategic approach to R&D and innovation. Companies that do not adapt will be disrupted.
Unmanned transport is great example of a rapidly emerging market requiring new R&D and innovation. As an example, unmanned aircraft will be deployed for a wide range of new purposes related to safety and communications in the near future. There are key requirements for success such as connecting with augmented reality, connecting outside with other aircraft, connecting to the cloud for a range of service needs, and connecting to a range of mobile devices.
When you look at the companies participating,  you realize the requirements for a wide range of technologies and providers. These include augmented reality, guidance technology, low latency networking and service provider and many others. So, no single company can do this alone.  Finding partners is critical to success.
Most other industries are doing the same. They use an innovation strategy that includes three key steps.
1. Create a technology model based on leading technologies
a. Use a technology scanning and scouting model to identify emerging technologies
b. Identify the companies with emerging technologies
2. Develop an ecosystem model based on technology strategy and business compatibility
a. Select partners with leading technology and resources to expand portfolio
b. Align with partners that have compatible strategies
3. Define a market strategy and manage a long term effort with ecopartners to capture share.
This model is used by leaders in energy equipment, aviation, mass transportation, consumer durables, medical products and many other industries.
The aviation industry is using IPAD’s to augment pilots, as well as Wi-Fi for passengers, hence BYOD. That is only the surface changes for aviation. As the aviation industry continues a large scale overhaul of fleet and ground equipment, there will be a new range of applications that augment aircraft control, communications and services. These in turn will require new capabilities for low latency networks, cellular, Wi-Fi and other communications technology. So we see the need to add partners from the networking equipment and service provider space.
In future blogs, I will discuss applications in other industries such as agriculture, mining and transportation.
This technology strategy is working for leaders today, and will define the next generation of industry winners.  Hope it works for you.

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