Mythbusting Product Innovation and PLM 2010 Predictions

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What I learned this week … came after long reflection on my predictions for product innovation in 2010. As you may have noticed from the sparse number of posts in December, I must have been doing a lot of reflecting! I decided to look back at my 2008 research at Aberdeen Group called “The Product Innovation Agenda 2010” to see whether or not my predictions came true, and bust those that didn’t. I hope you find it interesting.

Disclaimer on my Lack of a Crystal Ball

First, I want to say that my predictions were not based on a crystal ball or some supposed deep insight into the world of product innovation. As a researcher, I always find it better to ask the people who know the answer instead of guessing. In this case, I surveyed manufacturers about their plans for improving product innovation, product development, and engineering between 2008 and 2010. Then, I compared what the leading companies were doing – and planning to do – differently than average and poorer performing companies.

Predictions and Outcomes

Based on the prior research, here are my thoughts on where we stand as a manufacturing and engineering community against our plans for 2010:

Overall, I feel pretty good about how well the study predicted where companies would focus their efforts. Clearly companies made adjustments based on the economy, but the fact that PLM can help both the top-line and bottom-line was a big benefit.

What Did I Miss?

I missed the impact that social computing would have on product innovation processes. The report touched on open innovation and standardizing innovation processes, but I didn’t ask the right questions to see how the explosion of social networking would impact product innovation. I am not sure that if I asked the right questions that manufacturers would have been able to predict the boom in these technologies and their applicability to product development. I hope that I have made up for my miss by reporting on the trend in posts such as Going Social with Product Development, Social Computing Drives Innovation, Social Innovation in Simple Terms, and Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Study Good Sign for Social Computing in PLM. This is a space to watch in 2010 and companies plan on how to compete in 2011 and beyond.

Implications for Manufacturers

Last year I saw companies adopt a “survive and thrive” approach to innovation due to the down economy. The economic downturn forced companies to run lean and many had to downsize. But many companies I studied were keeping at least a subset of their resources on future innovation to be ready for the return of the market. I noticed that the long-term strategies for PLM were the same, but companies were shifting PLM strategies to short-term tactics to reduce cost and get the most out of existing resources.

Predictions for 2011 and Beyond

This year:

  • I expect to see continued emphasis on innovation and PLM.
  • I believe many companies will be picking up where they left off with PLM strategies, but maintaining their focus on keeping costs in check.
  • PLM will continue to expand, as discussed in What I Learned: PLM, Please Take 3 Giant Steps Forward, and will play a large role in helping companies improve product innovation, product development, and engineering on a broad scale.
  • Social computing will have a profound impact on product innovation, and 2010 will see many initiatives exploring the value that the intersection of web 2.0 technologies and process have with PLM.

So those are my thoughts on the past, present and future. I hope you found it interesting. What does 2010 and beyond look like to you?