How industrial strategy can drive innovation

We recently blogged about how external factors can drive innovation.  Here is another example.  “Prime Minister Theresa May, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced a new £30 million partnership to promote new technology and innovation” in the field of medical research.  This is part of the UK government’s industrial strategy.

The Ageing Society is one of four main “challenges” for this strategy.  The other three are Artificial Intelligence and Data, Clean Growth, and the Future of Mobility.  There is a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy video on each of these here.

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The potential impact of autonomous vehicles

As you know, this blog is somewhat sceptical about autonomous vehicles.  Nonetheless it is a technology that is developing fast.  Most of the research has focused on the technology itself.  But it worth thinking about the effect that it will have on other aspects of life, other than motoring.  This is what Nico Larco talks about in this TED video.

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Operations Insight: Texmark Chemicals refinery of the future

This insight appears on HPE’s website.  Texmark manufactures the polymer dicyclopentadiene (DCPD), which is used to make everything from ink to boats.  But refining the product is hazardous, because it involves highly reactive chemicals and  requires a great deal of heat.  To improve quality and safety, Texmark are building a modern refinery that incorporates the industrial internet of things (IIoT) into its design.  This will result in “automated worker safety, facility condition monitoring, and predictive maintenance”.  This video accompanies the case…

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Collaborative R & D

In our book, we explain that the new product development (NPD) process is affected by a number of different factors (pages 318-320).  A recent example of this is the announcement to set up a Functional Genomic Centre, funded and operated jointly by AstraZeneca,the pharma company, and Cancer Research UK, the charity.  It is planned that the Centre will “develop CRISPR technology to better understand the biology of cancer, creating biological models that may be more reflective of human disease, and advancing computational approaches to better analyse big datasets”. The company’s and charity’s “scientists will work alongside each other to facilitate collaboration, technical innovation and scientific progress”.

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Customise employee engagement

Interesting insight from Ben Hilton on website talking about his company’s approach to employee engagement.  He argues that there is too much emphasis placed on the characteristics and attributes of age groups, such as Gen. X or Millennials,  and consequently designing training and engagement strategies based on these assumptions.  In his company, they focus on the individual and customise employee  development based on those needs.  As a result, he believes this results in higher levels of retention and engagement.

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Leading and lagging risk indicators

In our book we discuss the concept of “leading” and “lagging” in relation to capacity (pages 192-193).  But the concept can be applied in other contexts, such as performance management or risk management – as this Prism article illustrates.

To manage risk, key risk indicators (KRIs) need to be monitored.  For this to be effective, there should be a balance between leading KRIs (which predict future outcomes) and lagging KRIs (which measure actual outcomes).  Examples of leading KRIs would be implementation of training, frequency of risk assessments, and roll out of mitigation initiatives.  Examples of lagging KRIs would be number of accidents, number of cyber attacks, or near miss events.  The article concludes by looking at the features of effective KRI implementation.

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The impact of digital technology on innovation

Arthur D. Little have conducted a survey of “150 senior executives in innovation, R&D and technology… analyzed over 300 tools, and investigated hundreds of real-world application cases of digitally enabled innovation” (reported on here).  This has identified three main areas of innovation that can be transformed or enhanced by specific digital technologies, as summarised here:

  • Intelligence: Knowing everything about anything, any time” – big data/analytics, internet of things, and self-learning bots.
  • Foresight: Visualizing and predicting anything better, faster and sooner” – augmented reality, virtual modeling/simulation, and additive manufacturing.
  • Interaction: Working seamlessly and effortlessly with anyone, anywhere” – virtual workplace, crowd sourcing, and e-learning.

The article goes on to give some specific examples of this in action.

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Ops 4.0

This blog has talked a lot about i4.0, as will the forthcoming second edition of our book.  This video however talks about the concept of Ops 4.0 as discussed by McKinsey & Co’s Yogesh Malik.  A key element of this is the concept of cross-functionality – not just technology.

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Robotics in creative industries

CNC Robotics are one of the UK’s leading robotics manufacturers.  They are installing their clever machines into a wide variety of settings, but one of the most interesting is in the creative industries (as this webpage explains).

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Operations Insight: Digitising the health and care process

Somerset County Council’s Your Paper has an interesting insight into how digitisation has improved health and care in the community (see photo).  It gave an example of the old process, as follows:

  1.  ‘Bob’ is unwell due to low blood sugar.  Out of hours medical service is called.  Bob too unwell to say who his GP is or what medication he is on.  So ambulance is called.
  2. Bob is taken to hospital.
  3. Bob admitted for treatment.  Taken off existing medication and put on new medication.
  4. Care team who visit Bob daily find he is not there next morning.  Contact his GP to raise concerns.
  5. GP unaware Bob has been admitted to hospital. Phones around to find 0ut if he has been.
  6. Bob’s new medication is causing adverse side effects.  Hospital unaware that this had been prescribed before unsuccessfully.  Bob’s discharge delayed whilst different medication is prescribed.
  7. Some time later, Bob returns home with new home care package.
  8. Bob’s friend finds an old paper prescription and takes it to pharmacy for Bob.  Pharmacy does not know that this has been replaced by new medication, so issues old medication.
  9. Bob is unwell again…..

This is the new process:

  1. ‘Bob’ is unwell due to low blood sugar.  Out of hours medical service is called.  Bob too unwell to say who his GP is or what medication he is on.  But out of hours doctor can see Bob’s medical records and admits him to hospital.
  2. Bob is taken to hospital.
  3. Hospital prescribed new medication, ensuring it has not previously been ineffective, by checking Bob’s records.
  4. Care team check Bob’s status before going to visit him at home so go to visit another patient instead.
  5. A few days later, Bob discharged with new care package.  GP has access to this information.
  6. Bob’s friend goes to pharmarcy to collect his prescription.  Pharmacy checks Bob’s online records to ensure he gets the new prescription.

This new Somerset Integrated Digital e-Record (SIDeR) Programme shares information across all health and care providers to ensure the right treatment is provided.


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