Building the Single Innovation Digital Platform Environment

Aras PLM Platform Image courtesy of Aras

Throughout the past couple of years, I have been constantly arguing about the need to put innovation management on a digital platform.

These have come in different thoughts on digital platforms, ready for cross-industry and having in place, a rapid digital innovation process that scales and evolves on new technology and insights.

We need a radical design, universal in design and approach.

What if you could manage your innovation in the ways shown in this diagram?

This is the way PLM innovation platforms are progressing and currently being assessed by CIMdata in a PLM Innovation Assessment Scorecard shown further below. Link to the position paper

The argument about what any innovation management system provides goes on and on and still, we seem not to be at the universal acceptance point that an innovation management process is critical and needs a better system of management.

What we should finally accept, a platform connects all users, both internally and externally in their ability to share their knowledge and information in exchanges, in one environment to cultivate collaborations and continuous collaborative creativity. The more we design and need to deliver smart, connected and innovative products the more we have this innovation platform need.

The majority of the present software providers fail to grasp this.

Those that do, grasping the incredible value of offering a digital innovation platform, will be, it seems, coming more from the Product Lifecycle Management perspective (PLM) where product design has always been complex. Those that don’t come from the old traditional thinking about innovation idea management or managing a single product portfolio. Both of these older solutions to managing innovation are approaches urgently requiring a radical change. Solutions should not come out of a box, loaded on your machine but readily accessible in a cloud environment built on a digital innovation platform design.

It is in recent years that the whole need to emphasize collaboration and constant ongoing exchanges become essential to speed up the response to customer needs and competitive advantage. This constant demand for improvement and digitally connected products is a constant “dynamic”, demanding ever-changing needs, additional tools, software updates, adoption of new technologies, and expects the constant change in how you manage your innovation environment differently. Innovation management, at present, stays in the last century.

The requirement has been growing around the understanding to make innovation work, we need to make sure our tools, people, information and departments of expertise all work in sync, increasing throughout the whole lifecycle, not just in ideation, or execution of a launch. Innovation today requires, no it actually demands, more connectivity to stand a chance of building (really) innovative solutions

The whole need is for functional domains (silo’s of knowledge) can work outside of their specific domain so others can link the information and knowledge up and apply the orchestration to bring this together in “better” products. We move from specific owners like marketing into organization engagement and enterprise ownership contribution.

Platforms perform really good jobs of making this enterprise engagement happens.

The platform becomes the conduit for connectivity, you begin to build a certain gravity in finding, securing and exploring data. You achieve a greater flow, you see traceability and configuration, you begin to evaluate iterations of design, you encourage openness. You make these platforms available, accessible and above all, provide a stable environment for all to appreciate end-to-end innovation lifecycle evolution.

So why don’t many software providers within innovation provide us this connectivity, so as to make sharing and accomplishing tasks easy? Most provide the tools to do this but they are often labored, manual, controlled for those that need them, not for all to see and participate.

We simply liberate connections on a platform.

Software providers want to sell licenses, that is the source of their gravity, of their measure of success. But gravity, in my view, comes from building compelling interfaces, designed to build positive experiences and collaborative efforts. Of course, designing software out of a box (many of today’s models) attempts this but “gravity” comes from making connections and offering great platforms in tools, connections, apps etc gives innovation management a whole new dimension, that software limited out of a box can’t. It keeps evolving and being dynamic.

Then we have this magic word of “flow”– the activity where innovation is fostered, encouraged and building momentum. It is understood today as the need to have interoperability, seamlessness, and traceability as the core of our solution needs. We know that the flow is essential to innovation. To make this gravity and flow to happen we need openness, in collaborations, in support, in continuingly improving our design systems to galvanize and connect innovation work.

Two platform authors Mark Bonchek and Sangeet Paul Choudary often talk of the building blocks of platforms and any platform success is built on this connection, gravity and flow thinking.

The other keys of a platform are its ability to scale. It can offer sustainability in being adaptive in interfaces and workflows, far more dynamic and evolving that solutions out of a box. They can be extended via constantly updated configuration than awaiting modification or updates on the next release or software upgrade you are forced to pay for. Then you have maintainability as it seeks to stay current, relevant and response as technology and application are evaluated and changed.

For me, I have become increasingly impressed with where the PLM providers are going.

One stands out for me in giving that significant focus on innovation management, not just product is Aras.

Now Aras I have written about before (herein “Can We have one of These- A product Innovation platform?“) as they are laying out their PLM product innovation platform so it is open, flexible, scalable and upgradeable powered by digital solutions.

Specifically, and interestingly, Aras has no upfront software licensing fee’s, enabling the ability to seek out as low as the possible total cost of ownership, company-wide, not restricted to a few. This challenges most of the conventional business models of upfront license models currently offered by Innovation software providers.

Aras provides a range of services that sit on the platform allows for dynamic workflows, plenty of visual collaborations, reporting all in different variants to fit your (entire) business, not one specific part, choosing separate solutions.

This is the present assessment of Aras and its platform score for its product innovation platform assessment

I keep hoping Aras recognize innovation is not just emerging from those older CAD days, or limited to certain industries that needed heavier industrial engineering solutions, but able to grasp the greater potential; to offer an innovation platform to everyone that needs one.  Innovation comes from everywhere and through the adoption of the Aras design, I believe can offer a total innovation management solution across the entire enterprise, irrespective of industry or service focus.

This visual shows the existing Aras PLM platform. It can be adapted to all of the innovation we undertake today, quickly and fairly well, if the value is seen and the parts needed to be added are made, especially relating to innovation deriving from marketing initiatives.

The significant advantage of having tools integration, integrated workflows for all to participate (R&D, Engineering, Marketing, Designers etc), to be able to track and trace the evolution of the product concept throughout its entire lifecycle. Also in having selective parts being able to be reused for a product family or variant design has significant time, and cost savings. You can minimize rework or build out from past work.

Can the present application overview of Aras be extended to incorporate all types of innovation that require collaboration, exchange and constant on-going evaluation?

In Summary

Can you imagine a fully integrated product design development for innovation management, one that enables global, cross-industry, an open collaborative approach built into the platform design? One that is still built on your rules and structure suitable to your task and vision, of what a product needs to achieve? One that is giving you the potential for not just the digital thread but higher levels of digital twin design to prototype, share and engage customers with, throughout a product and its service design. One that manages the entire end-to-end design to eventual market, how it evolved, was validated and update. Then why are we not screaming for this solution?

Tell me why we continue with a pen, paper, excel spreadsheets, silo’s of knowledge, dependency on opinion and not fact. Why do we keep restricting our innovation to move across our organizations due to limitations on software-out-of-a box or licenses as the go-to-market business model? Why are we not talking to the PLM providers, especially it seems to me, Atas, and getting some level of movement out of their traditional PLM box, into the innovation world? A world for all, to finally have the potential to connect up innovation across the whole enterprise and beyond?

One thought on “Building the Single Innovation Digital Platform Environment

  1. Pingback: Innovation with a Digital Platform - English Blog - Aras Open PLM Community - Aras Open PLM Community

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