When I speak to R&D leaders in diverse industries around the world about the challenges they face, one dominant phrase emerges: "We are once again asked to do more with less." Most reflect on escalating pressure within their organizations to balance innovation versus efficiency, leading to demotivation or eventual depletion of skilled research talent. They tell me about their struggles to promote the importance of innovation to investors, while meeting customer expectations under time and budget constraints.
Interestingly, my colleague and contributing author, Adam Sanford (Director, CAS Services / Innovation) observed the R&D balancing act to be the toughest in the chemical and materials manufacturing arena. As such, this blog aims to describe the specific R&D challenges faced within chemicals and materials manufacturing and reliable approaches to overcome them.
Staying innovative amid mountains of information
Today, R&D engineers and/or scientists have access to a greater volume of information and knowledge management technologies than ever before. When asked to innovate while challenged with compressed development cycles, rapid market changes and multi-faceted collaboration, sound knowledge management becomes essential. In fact, many company leaders look to address this issue by complementing their internal knowledge repositories with third-party software tools and information.
Third-party partners can also help companies verify freedom-to-operate (FTO), patentability or novelty, prior art, infringement and validity or seek new insights on technology assessment, intellectual property (IP) road maps and potential innovative disruptors—even leverage machine-based algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to help manage the data influx.
The challenge is finding a partner that offers trustworthy, well-curated information that is comprehensive enough to provide actionable insights. For a successful partnership, company leaders need to engage a highly competent organization that offers up-to-date information, conveniently indexed and sorted at large scale. If you look to a third party, understand how their information is curated to ensure it is organized in a way that is useful and relevant for your specific technology and business needs. Many offer attractive visual components, but fail to offer the rigor needed when it comes to content curation.
Meeting the demands for increased R&D efficiency
Too often, R&D is viewed as an expense rather than an investment. We hear many chief executives and senior R&D leaders speak of the perpetual uphill battle in promoting R&D investment. This lack of investment can lead to the depletion of skilled research talent from organizations, and it is not uncommon to witness key scientists and engineers being asked to support more non-research related activities (product support, stewardship, etc.) as the scope of R&D departments are stretched.
This talent depletion is further compounded by ever-increasing pressures to innovate more rapidly at lower costs and causes growing inefficiencies in R&D organizations, particularly regarding knowledge management investments. However, R&D managers are now recognizing that ready access to their company’s own internal and historic proprietary reporting can significantly reduce rework and unnecessary costs, and as such, are refocusing their efforts on true knowledge management.
Every day we see and speak to R&D managers who are up against a host of challenges. We often see that standardized reporting systems are no longer in place, with many technical and product performance documents partially captured in presentation slides rather than in standardized reports. With critical information decentralized across shared drives and personal computers rather than collectively stored in a searchable database, scientists spend too much time searching for the relevant information and compromise research progress.
To help reduce timelines and costs, customized information services are essential. Whether you are tackling internal data management issues or garnering business intelligence on a competitor, customized information services can help you leverage the right information to provide valuable insights with fewer resources. With the right service, you can quickly investigate an area of research and extract information to help you make actionable decisions.
Helping you achieve both innovation and efficiency in R&D
CAS is uniquely placed to provide R&D solutions for chemical and materials companies. Our latest innovation—SciFindern—incorporates advanced relevance algorithms, as well as artificial intelligence (AI), to help you navigate to the most relevant references more efficiently and with better precision. Whether you are registering a new chemical substance, searching for up-to-date chemical regulatory detail or searching for full experimental and analytical techniques, we have the trusted chemical information to help you do more. We also offer our knowledge, skills and depth of resources in a full suite of scientific data and information services.
At CAS we understand "doing more with less" is a fact of life for those innovating in the chemical and materials landscape. This is why we are listening and exploring new ways that we can help. We have been supporting chemical and materials R&D information needs since 1907 and continue to develop solutions and services to catalyze R&D efficiency by lowering that barrier to entry.
We gladly invite a conversation to understand your specific challenges and learn how we can help your company promote robust innovations and gain the necessary R&D efficiencies you need to meet your growth targets. Contact us today!