Continuous improvement across your entire mix of products and services is essential to innovate and stay competitive nowadays. Digital disruption requires companies to transform, successfully manage a portfolio of profitable offerings, and deliver unprecedented levels of innovation and quality. But creating your product portfolio strategy is only the first part—four key best practices are necessary to successfully implement it.
New technologies—the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Social Media, 3D printing, and digital collaboration and modelling tools—are creating powerful opportunities to innovate. Increasingly customer-centric propositions are being delivered ‘as-a-service’ via the cloud, with just-in-time fulfilment joining up multiple parts of the supply chain. Your products and services have to evolve continually to keep up, causing massive amounts of data to be generated that has to be fed back in to inform future development.
To minimise complexity, it’s essential that there is just one context for all communication. You therefore need a standardised—and well-understood—enterprise product record that acts as a common denominator for your business processes. And that means every last piece of information—from core service features to how your product uses IoT sensors; from business processes to your roadmap for innovation, and all other details—gets recorded in one place, in the same way, for every one of your products, from innovation through development to commercialisation.
That will make it far easier for you to collect and interpret product information; define service levels and deliver on them; support new business models, and manage the overall future design of your connected offerings. Moreover, it enables your product development methods to become more flexible, so they can be updated more frequently, enabled by innovations in your supply chain, supported more effectively by IT, and improved over time.
Greater quality control in the digital world…
By including form, fit and function rules—that describe the characteristics of your product, or part of it—within the product record, you add a vital layer of change control. It enables you to create a formal approvals process for quality assurance. For example, changes made in one area—whether to a product or part of it—may create problems in other areas. The form, fit and function rules force you to perform cross-functional impact analyses and ensure you’re aware of any consequences.
As part of this, you can run simulations with ‘digital twins’ to predict changes in performance and product behaviour before anything goes wrong. This obviously has major cost-saving implications, enabling far more to be understood at the drawing-board stage. Moreover, IoT applications can be leveraged to help product teams test and gather data of your connected assets or production facilities.
Transparency and effective communications
The enterprise product record should also contain a full audit trail of decisions about the product, including data from third parties, and from your supply chain. The objective is full traceability from the customer perspective—with evidence of regulatory compliance, provenance of preferred suppliers, and fully-auditable internal quality processes. Additionally, it’s often helpful to be able to prove the safety and quality of your product and processes, as that can be a key market differentiator. Powerful project management and social networking capabilities support the collaborative nature of the innovation process.
Lean and efficient
Overall, your innovation platform should be both lean and efficient, based on the continual iteration of the following key stages:
- Ideation, where you capture, collaborate and analyse ideas
- Proposal, where you create business cases and model potential features
- Requirements, where you evaluate, collaborate and manage product needs
- Concepts, where you accelerate product development and define structures
- Portfolio analysis, where you revise and optimise your product investment
- Seamless Integration with downstream ERP and Supply Chain processes
The result: Powerful ROI
Being able to innovate effectively in a digital supply chain delivers returns from both top-line growth—with increased revenues and market share—and reduced costs from improved safety, security, sustainability and fewer returns.