Breaking down silos in R&D: 3 technologies that can help

Research and development (R&D) departments help distinguish their organizations from competitors and bring innovative products and services to the public. Well-calibrated R&D initiatives have been instrumental in the creation of more fuel-efficient vehicles, safer and more effective pharmaceuticals, faster CPUs and much more. However, despite the billions in R&D spending each year, many companies are not getting the most from their efforts, in large part because R&D is traditionally siloed from the rest of the organization.

Understanding R&D silos and how to break them down

According to Harvard Business Review, silos are among the most commonly identified impediments to organizational success among executives. Major recent movements such as DevOps in software have sought to eliminate the siloed, parallel operations of development and IT operations teams, which often struggled to get on the same page and avoid performing costly duplicate work.

There’s no equivalent initiative in R&D, but that doesn’t mean that silos are intractable features of corporate research departments. Several emerging technologies should enable smoother collaboration between R&D professionals, the other divisions of their firms and external parties:

1. Collaborative intelligence

Increased collaboration has been associated with development of more innovative technologies in sectors such as manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. Tools such as unified communications suites make R&D collaboration easier on a basic level, but there’s also the gains possible through easier data sharing.

According to Aberdeen Group, collaboration analytics can speed up decision-making processes by almost 50 percent, thanks to everyone being able to work with the same set of data in real time. It’s possible to view current and historical data and extract additional insights with tools such as business intelligence software during R&D processes. The growing range of devices and sensors capable of feeding data into these tools also allows for a more comprehensive view into complex operations, such as supply chains.

2. The Internet of Things

Indeed, the Internet of Things (IoT) in particular has expanded the possibilities for data-enhanced collaboration in R&D. For example, smaller and more reliable IoT trackers embedded throughout the “cold chain” of perishable products like pharmaceuticals and dairy could reduce the amount of spoilage by optimizing routes and temperature controls.

As a result, R&D teams would have more reliable materials to work with. They could complete more projects on schedule and not have to worry as much about shipments being ruined.


3. Medical product identifiers

In both the U.S. and the European Union, medical device identifiers are becoming standard. These marking have clear benefits for conducting recalls and are also useful for standardizing device documentation, for better understanding of how products function and where R&D improvements should be targeted.

Inspirage can help you build better collaborative processes across R&D. We have years of experience in product development, design collaboration, supply chain management, logistics, enterprise resource planning and much more and can draw upon it in guiding your organization toward more efficient R&D. Contact our team today.

Michael Torek

Michael Torek | Key Contributor

Michael Torek is the global Practice Lead for Inspirage’s Innovation and PLM practice. Michael has over 20 years of professional experience in business management and consulting roles. Prior to Inspirage, he had PLM leadership responsibilities within the consulting organizations of both Oracle Consulting and the Agile Software Corporation.