While traditional factors like low costs, powerful branding, and strong customer service have historically helped organizations create a competitive advantage, maintaining that is a different challenge. Thanks to globalization, today’s world continues to move faster, and consumers are faced with more options than ever. Building long-lasting business success requires organizations to adapt to change and keep up to date with the pace of innovation. Thus, a true deep-routed competitive advantage can be found through valuable research and development (R&D) investment.
The importance of R&D for organizations, economies and development
From the introduction of smartphones and cloud computing to the development of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, we have witnessed the rise and application of new technologies at an exponential pace over the last decade. Behind its success has been meticulous R&D.
In Asia-Pacific, markets like Japan, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are rapidly increasing their R&D spending to stay competitive against their western counterparts and bolster innovations in line with smart city objectives. South Korea is a great example. Its strong performance in R&D and manufacturing, coupled with increased patent activity, has earned it the top spot in the annual Bloomberg innovation index 2021. In fact, since the index was first published in 2013, South Korea has taken the top spot for seven years. Singapore also made the 2021 list as a runner-up due to its strong transition into an advanced digital economy.
Increasing investments in R&D are also now exasperated by events such as the global supply crunch and pandemic. As many Asian-Pacific economies rely significantly on global trade, organizations are emphasizing innovation levels to support advancing productivity and open up new channels of economic activity. This has meant that a fully capable, connected and digital-first R&D strategy is more critical for success.
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4 R&D Strategies for Modern Businesses
1. Increase response rate and speed vs. disruptions and long waits
Innovation cycles are becoming faster as technology advances. More firms, services, and products are in the market than ever before, all competing to capture consumers. So, getting your unique products or services designed, tested and ready before your competition is imperative. The pandemic has also illustrated that long delays, extended waiting and disorganized chains hinder competitive advantage. Especially so considering how spread teams and resources are.
A digital-first, connected, efficient R&D strategy enables organizations to bypass these challenges, allowing them to capitalize on dramatic efficiency improvement in all stages, including during requirement and system design, hardware and software design, and testing.
This is because digital R&D enables organizations to have real-time feedback, providing them with the ability to relay information at speed and shorten the time it takes to make changes accordingly. For example, Genomics England, a medical institute supporting advanced and precision medicine, was able to utilize digital solutions such as Equinix Fabric™ to rapidly address the evolving pandemic. Through Equinix Fabric, they could share data quickly and securely across research teams worldwide. They were also able to set up their research environment with significant computing requirements at speed, rather than rely on building infrastructure from scratch. The minimized disruptions support them to speed up R&D methodologies and deliver against goals and time constraints.
2. More connected work vs. working in siloes
For many modern organizations, teams are often spread across multiple functions, cities and continents. This traditionally has meant that R&D usually spends considerable time and effort with each team before passing to the next, slowing the R&D chain significantly, especially when teams have to revisit sections. Coordinating these efforts takes a vast amount of active management and communication; it also crucially relies on it.
Digital R&D supported by next-level infrastructure enables closer collaboration between teams. Digital functions with integrated applications give teams, and other stakeholders access to all the tools they require at speed and with just one click. They can stay much closer to the project and access it anytime, saving valuable time across teams and the organization. Work can also be carried out in parallel, essential for efficient teamwork.
One example of an industry that has benefited from this is the healthcare and life sciences industry. As commercial partnerships steadily increase and complex society-wide health challenges demand greater collaboration and speed, digital-first R&D has been instrumental in solving these multidimensional challenges. It has made collaboration easier, faster and more efficient, and has brought new opportunities to the industry to create better products, services and experiences.
3. More accurate work vs. outdated and inaccurate information
Although collaboration across teams is incredibly beneficial for efficient work, there can also be challenges and inefficiency when not done accurately. This is because teams can work on outdated information without realizing it, wasting valuable resources and time. So, just as it’s challenging to coordinate teams, it can also be difficult to coordinate with the latest work.
The consequences of inaccurate information can be detrimental, especially in specific industries, as it can set timelines back and waste resources. Even if the error is small, the outcome can domino and compromise future R&D projects in the long run. It can also sometimes call into question the effectiveness of an organization from stakeholders.
A fully integrated digital environment, such as those available on Platform Equinix®, guarantees organizations generate the most accurate, up-to-date information to relate to teams. This develops a single source of truth, so teams can place more trust in their systems. Platform Equinix can also support modular R&D strategies, ensuring the best collaborative work is done. R&D processes can be carried out more effectively with fewer errors as teams are always given accurate and validated information.
4. AI and automation vs manual labor
As organizations face increasing pressure to create more innovative products and bring them to the market faster, the R&D process is becoming more complex. From the research phase to testing and prototyping, the monumental number of tasks and requirements at all stages make it difficult for organizations to reach optimal flow. Any additional hindrance or stalls in these phases can leave organizations vulnerable to their competitors.
Digital R&D has made this process more efficient. Still, we are also witnessing the rise of emerging technologies for further optimization, including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and automation.
Much of today’s innovations and R&D involve data-driven predictions, advancements in these technologies have meant organizations can simplify the process significantly in a faster and less costly way. For example, sifting through vast amounts of data makes it difficult for researchers to find relevant information, and advanced technology helps solve these issues with search and extraction patterns. They can carry out the mundane tasks of scanning, retrieving, organizing and processing data, while R&D teams are instead able to focus on more critical tasks that contribute to the innovation cycle more effectively.
Advanced tools can also help teams foresee its application in the real world. In the chip manufacturing industry, semiconductor companies can leverage cloud electronic design automation (EDA) applications, that can be configured and connected to Platform Equinix via Equinix Fabric for scalability, to build their ideal IIoT platforms for factories to improve the quality, productivity and production of chips. Further adding to an organization’s competitiveness in the R&D phase.
Digital is the winning R&D strategy
The ability for organizations to innovate is vital. From solving problems and improving efficiencies to producing quality and responding to demands—it all relies on digital-first R&D. It is a significant indicator of long-term success, and organizations who truly come out on top understand the importance of investing in robust infrastructure to support it.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how interconnected digital infrastructure can help your organization seize more opportunities in R&D and the digital economy.