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Former Member

Many of our customers have come to us asking for a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution to fast track their businesses. The challenge here is that PLM is a strategy, not necessarily something that can be bought, deployed and checked off the list. More recently, I see that the most successful customers approach this domain with a focus on creating and enabling a product innovation platform that connects people, process, technology and data in order to orchestrate the value creation process surrounding the birth of any product.

Driving and as a backdrop to this product innovation platform emergence are the technological advancements of the past decade that have ushered in a new era of customer expectations. Gone are the days when Henry Ford famously quipped “You can have any color you like so long as it is black.” Today, whether considering B2C or B2B sales, the customer often will settle for nothing less than an individualized solution—be it a car or a chemical. Further exacerbating the challenges that this level of customization creates, design cycle times continue to be driven down; the acceleration of the market being driven by greater competition, quickly changing customer needs or wants and the technological know-how to deliver on even shorter turn arounds. The icing on the cake with all of this is the massive amounts of information now available—be it market data, regulatory, product, customer, the list goes on.

With increasing customer expectation, more competitive market dynamics and a veritable ocean of data, opportunities abound. Or at least this should be your outlook. Far too often, I find companies that are confused by or, in the worst examples, unaware of the changing landscape. On the other hand, those that understand the situation and commit to action find themselves in an increasingly better place. We have been fortunate enough to work with many of our customers to seize the opportunity and, through these learnings, craft a new strategy for the Engineering / R&D line of business: Connected Products.

SAP’s freshly launched Connected Products strategy is accompanied by several new solutions to help customers best accelerate their businesses in these new market realities. At its core, it is made up of three pillars:

  1. Product Data Assimilation: capture all of the information that sits within disparate, external product networks in order to make the right design decision the first time

  2. Product Individualization: access a product innovation platform to tailor solutions according to customer requirements

  3. People, Process & Technology Orchestration: manage the multitude of resources necessary to ensure the success of a product once you have made the intelligent design decisions and tapped into your product innovation platform

At this point you may be wondering what is a product innovation platform. Simply put, it is a network that allows all stakeholders and data from engineering, manufacturing, procurement, supply chain, sales, maintenance, finance and HR to collaborate on turning a product idea, born in engineering, into a physical reality in the hands of a customer—and back again. This is what SAP has built our business around for the past several decades with ERP serving as the cornerstone.

The Connected Products strategy and portfolio enables Engineering and R&D departments to tap into this platform effectively and efficiently. In many regards it breaks down the silo of engineering to scale their innovations through the rest of the enterprise while also providing them more time to spend doing what they do best: designing products that have the power to change the world.

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