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Key Takeaways from Techweek19 - Innovation and Industry 4.0. What to do when there is no off-the-shelf solution

Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Quote

Introduction:

With over 500 events, in more than 30 towns and cities around New Zealand, Techweek is a National Tech Innovation Week aimed at building enthusiasm around new technologies being developed in New Zealand.

This year Beta Solutions decided that it was about time that we sign up and represent Tech in our region. We wanted to host an event that would give local entrepreneurs and staff from innovative companies some industry insights and knowledge that they can use in their workplaces and careers. There is a lot of buzz around Industry 4.0 in the media and we hear clients asking - what is it, why must we know about it, what should we do about it, what does research and development mean for my/our company, where do we start? Thus, we decided to host an event that would address these concerns and questions in the form of a Business Breakfast: Innovation and Industry 4.0 - What to do when there is no off-the-shelf solution. 

We were delighted to host over 50 attendees at the event in our office. It was a pleasure to share a continental breakfast with everyone as a small thanks for all their contributions to technology and/or innovation in our region. It was also very encouraging to see that woman made up 20% of the attendees.

Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event

Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Group Discussion

There has been such positive feedback on the presentations and client case studies that we decided to share some of the key takeaways in this Blog.

"Firstly congratulations to you and the team at Beta Solutions for a fantastic breakfast session yesterday. By far the best 'tech' event I have attended in Palmerston North! For me the critical factor was that the event was Industry led. I am looking forward to going through your presentation again once they are on your website."

We asked the attendees what their key takeouts were in a post-event feedback questionnaire, and following is what they shared (grouped in the topics addressed).

Industry 4.0 - An overview and Industry 4.0 Readiness:

The avalanche of disruptive technologies that is fast changing the world as we know it, is blending the physical, digital and biological worlds. During the presentations, Aaron Fulton (Beta Solutions' Systems Developer), focused on:

  • End-to-end digitization and data integration of the value chain.
    • Cyber-physical Systems
    • Internet of Things (IoT)
    • Cloud Computing
    • Cognitive Computing
  • We also looked at what it would take for companies to be ready to capitalise on opportunities created by this 4th Industrial revolution.
    • Our challenge as businesses/entrepreneurs today includes:
      • Responding to new opportunities and challenges.
      • Learning how to adapt and innovate quickly.
      • Expectations of our customers are ever increasing, and so our ‘baseline’ of service has to as well.
    • To compete successfully, there are two areas of focus for businesses - Digital Maturity and Organisational Mastery Areas.
      • This Slide is a good guide to work through to determine your company's readiness digitally and across the four organisational mastery areas(1):
        Industry 4.0 readiness

Key takeouts from attendees:

  • "We need to adapt to keep up with the competition"
  • "Industry 4.0 isn't a term I'd heard before, and Beta Solutions' R&D process is inspiring."
  • "Need more industry sector leadership."
  • "There is a vibrant tech culture in Palmerston North."
  • "Interesting ideas coming to market locally. Beta Solutions is working on some exciting projects."

Case Studies:

We were very excited to share two of our Clients' case studies, which made the content more real. A huge thank you to our guest speakers:

  • Mark Glenny - Innovation Research Manager at Resene Paints Ltd.
    • Mark shared the Resene Conductive Coatings R&D journey (from market research, ideation, development to commercialisation) of the newly launched Resene SmartTouch(R) product. 
    • This a great example of Industry 4.0 as it incorporated: a cyber-physical system; user-centric function and performance; system control; mechanical and electrical engineering; micro-controller; and connectivity.
    • You can read more about the project here
      Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Resene Presentation  Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event Resene Presentation
  • Kevin Halsall - Founder,  Director & Designer at Omeo Technology
    • Kevin shared the Omeo (personal mobility device) product development and commercialisation journey.
    • During his presentation he highlighted some of the research and development process steps they had to overcome, such as prototyping and user testing. 
    • Be sure to watch this video of how Omeo is transforming people's lives in their video: Bush adventure.
      Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event Omeo Presentation  Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event Omeo Presentation

R&D Process and Leverage Partnerships:

60% of the respondents in our survey of the event rated the R&D Process the most valuable session of the event.  

During these sections, Terry Southern (Beta Solutions' CEO), discussed:

  • Research and Development Process:
    • First we looked at what is Research and Development.
      • Terry explained that R&D comprises of two distinct parts - "Research"  and "Development" - and each needs to be understood for its role and attributes. 
    • An insightful discussion followed on how using a decision making framework can help with understating the complexities of R&D projects. 
      • Not all ideas, systems nor R&D projects are created equal! 
      • This session created a lot of interest as Terry shared how Beta Solutions has adopted the Cynefin Framework(2) (by Dan Snowden) to help understand and manage our clients' R&D projects. 
        Cynefin Framework

      • Over the last 10 years Beta Solutions has developed and is constantly refining its R&D Process, which involves: 
        • Project Management
        • Designing
        • Prototyping
        • Validation and Testing
        • Regulatory considerations
        • Manufacturing
      • Due to the response to this session, we will look to discuss this in a future Blog.
    • Leverage Partnerships
      • Partnerships can be the difference between product success … or not, so Terry shared that companies and entrepreneurs should bear in mind the following when considering innovation partnerships:
        • Partnerships that provide Value
        • Evidence of shared common values
        • Understanding the optimum structure for your (company's) R&D - in-sourcing, outsourcing or perhaps a hybrid approach.

Key takeouts from attendees:

  • "The realization of the complexity involved in getting an idea to market."
  • "Best explanation of the R&D process I have heard."
  • "Learning about Beta's approach to R&D."
  • "R&D Process and Project Management information was valuable."
  • "We're investigating R&D Processes in our Tech consulting business. This session was very timely and helped me understand methodologies and what to look into."
  • "Doing it alone is the exception. Find the right partner."
  • "Networking and finding potential partners to work with."
  •  

Conclusion:

After such positive responses to the event, we are looking forward to hosting the next event during Techweek 2020. 

As for Industry 4.0 and Innovation - the future is upon us, so... What to do when there is no off the shelf solution? Put your best foot forward … and innovate.

  • Remember: Ideas do not equal Innovation.
  • R&D is difficult but not all R&D is the same:
    • It is better to understand the nature of your R&D through a decision making framework, such as Cynefin.
  • Up-skill on the R&D process in order to have realistic expectations.
  • Leverage partnerships that add value and get your idea to market faster.
  • You can read our Blog on "Why Outsource Your Electronic Design?"

Or better yet, contact us and come and discuss your takeouts or ideas with us over a coffee.  

Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event  Beta Solutions Techweek 2019 Business Breakfast Event


References:

  1. PWC Industry 4.0 Self Assessment - https://i40-self-assessment.pwc.de/i40/landing/ and https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/industry4-0
  2. Cynefin Framework Introduction - http://cognitive-edge.com/videos/cynefin-framework-introduction/


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