The development of innovative products and services - or for the sake of brevity, let us just call it new product development - is an imperative for enterprises of every stripe in response to rising stakeholder expectations and growing market competition. Unsurprising then that when asked about such things in the latest Gartner survey of CIOs, supporting and driving new product development was one of the predominant IT issues for 2008 and beyond.
New product development is an opportunity for the CIO to show that they are a business leader and for an IT department to show it is well aligned with enterprise goals. What distinguishes a CIO business leader and their IT organization is where and how they choose to focus their efforts. Choosing to play a passive role and focusing on not dropping the ball is not particularly value adding in the long run. Rather, choosing to play an active role and focusing on bringing new products to maturity is where the value is.
IT has more product development capabilities than most people,including many IT people, realize
For those CIOs seeking to position their IT organization to play this active role in new product development, there are a number of different paths that can be taken. For those of a more traditional disposition, or operating in an industry where IT really can't make a direct contribution to new product development (surely they must exist), there is the participating route.
Participating in product development. New product development is an information-intensive process, requiring high-quality data from across the enterprise to plan, configure, develop and deploy products and services. CIOs and IT can participate in this process by helping to address challenges associated with these activities.
The first step of participation usually involves implementing and then integrating product data management (PDM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) tools with existing enterprise systems. PDM uses controls and governance to capture and maintain a product's definition and related data through all phases of its life - from inception to retirement.
The most popular PDM software applications are library functions (search and file check-in/check-out), management of bills of materials, product configuration management and engineering change management. PDM is a core enabler of product-related collaboration and PLM.
PLM guides product decisions throughout the product lifecycle. PLM pays particular attention to initial product development decisions, as they have the greatest influence on total product lifecycle costs.
The aim of PLM at every phase is to provide the greatest business value to the enterprise and its trading partners. PLM employs product information and business analysis to support strategy, planning, governance, content capture, content control and execution.
There is, however, another set of resources that the CIO and IT organization have at their disposal: know-how. IT has more product development capabilities than most people, including many IT people, realize. CRM and ERP systems managed by IT combine information and automation to bring the value proposition of the product or service to the customer.
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