Building a modern R&D organization through digitalization


There’s undoubtedly been much hype about the impact of digital transformation on innovation in general. However, beyond the hype, we all see digital innovations changing almost every single moment of our personal lives.

As a supplier of digital solutions for R&D teams, the very people who are at the heart of the innovation cycle, we felt that it would be interesting to investigate how digital technologies could transform their work and make them more efficient in responding faster to innovation needs.

When I first met Christophe Perthuisot, a seasoned R&D senior executive with 25+ years of experience in leading and transforming global R&D teams, most recently Danone’s, I realized that we were on common ground about the pressing need to digitalize R&D organizations in most industries.

So, I asked him to articulate his thoughts and this gave birth to a white paper that explains why going digital is no longer an option for R&D leaders and what is at stake for their companies down the line.

In this post, I’d like to give you a preview of the paper which is now available for you to download.

I hope you’ll enjoy the reading and it will help you think through your own roadmap in this shifting world.

Accelerating complexity

In this first part, Christophe elaborates on the major shifts that drive the increasing and accelerating complexity faced by most R&D organizations:

  • More demanding customers,
  • Faster product lifecycle,
  • Fragmentation of knowledge,
  • Exponential technologies,
  • Accelerating regulatory and administrative requirements,
  • New competition.

New innovation opportunities

Then, we move on to discuss the new kind of opportunities that will become available for companies that will start their journey towards a digital and data-enabled R&D.

As Christophe puts it: “The increasing ubiquity of data and digital in consumers’ lives will shift the type of innovation expected by consumers towards data-enabled ecosystem innovation.”

This digital journey requires some fundamental redesign of many core activities of R&D organizations, like to name a few:

  • Modernizing and upgrading core processes and capabilities (innovation, data management, product development, etc.),
  • Partnering and sharing data,
  • Enabling new decision-making processes,
  • Accessing and retaining new skill sets (most urgently, data scientists),
  • Shifting the culture and leadership towards more holistic thinking.

A way forward

Finally, Christophe is sharing a high-level view of the main components that may help in building your roadmap to a digitalized R&D.

  • Start with modernizing your innovation process: here some thought should be given to implementing a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform as a basic foundation for the entire process, plus upgrading your understanding of consumer preferences through real-world data and your ability to read trends earlier than your competition.
  • Upgrade and digitalize your core capabilities, moving to in-silico product development, reinventing user experience and building circularity in design.
  • Build coalition of partners.
  • Rethink your decision-making process and leadership.

Key takeaways

  • The rise of a more demanding consumer and the acceleration of technology bring significantly more complexity to R&D organizations.
  • Digitalizing the R&D function is a do-or-die activity for R&D leaders.
  • The opportunities for innovation and value creation are endless for those who will embrace the journey towards digitalization.