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Find out how a top automotive supplier is not only fulfilling the demands of OEMs as they react to the consumer marketplace, but also driving the evolution of technologies that impact what is produced by those OEMs. Vasanth Krishnaswami, PhD, Senior Innovation Consultant for IHS Product Design, describes this company’s success.
IHS Customer Recognition (CR): What are the strategic business goals of this organization?
Krishnaswami: One of my customers is a major Tier One automotive supplier that faces unique challenges because of their position in the industry. They, of course, have to fulfill the demands of the OEMs, who themselves are reacting to the consumer marketplace. But, they’re also in the position to gain strategic advantage through driving the evolution of technology and products which can change what is actually demanded or produced by the OEMs. And a good example of this is the field of electric or hybrid vehicles. Battery technology, of course, is most rapidly changing in the space – but changes in conventional technologies, incremental improvements, can often in combination outstrip more advanced technologies and change the viability of products or the product mix that can be offered in different marketplaces. Therefore, this customer needs to have a roadmap that can fulfill current market demands, but is highly adaptable to react rapidly to changes in market demand and market conditions.
CR: What information challenges does this organization face to achieve its goals?
Krishnaswami: In order to meet development goals, the engineering teams monitor information and integrate information from many different sources into their decision making process. These information sources can be external sources, such as technical journals, market reports, and more and more recently websites, blogs and social media sources; or there can be internal sources such as product management lifecycle management systems, document management systems, dealer database systems, etc. All of this information has to be integrated and analyzed in order to effectively make decisions on their product development roadmap.
CR: How are they working with IHS to address those challenges?
Krishnaswami: The IT Department at this customer has implemented the IHS Goldfire Knowledge Management platform. The Goldfire Knowledge Management platform has a number of search and knowledge management tools built into it that allow the organization to effectively search internal document depositories, gain access to a number of vetted technical journals, standards, and patent information from IHS’ publishing partners; and also monitor external sources including websites, trade sites and social media in order to present all of this information in an integrated, unified, single interface so that their teams can actually search the information and analyze information effectively. More importantly, Goldfire’s natural language, or semantic processing technology, organizes and uncovers relationships, significant relationships, between different pieces of information, allowing engineers to make informed decisions on the topics that they’re actually trying to research. Additionally, the Goldfire services team helps the teams incorporate industry-leading best practices, from both the automotive industry and from other technological industries in our experience, and helps them integrate these best practices into the decision making workflows and thus, makes them much more effective in utilizing the information that they do now have access to.
CR: What results has the organization achieved by working with IHS?
Krishnaswami: We implemented the Goldfire solution at this client approximately a year ago. And even within the last year, they’re already seeing significant improvements in the results they are achieving in managing their information. We have both anecdotal information on improvements and more formal, rigorously compared information. Anecdotally, the director of the R&D group that implemented the system used to spend previously, before the use of Goldfire, at least an hour every morning looking through over 50 different RSS feeds for news related to the automotive industry. Now, Goldfire entirely automates this process and he simply receives an email based upon pre-selected filters and queries that he’s already set up, and he can instead use the time to focus on making decisions rather than looking for the information. More rigorously, we typically perform pre- and post-deployment surveys that indicate any changes in various metrics. One of the most common metrics that we find is the both the automotive industry and in other industries is that engineers often complain that when they look for legacy information, over 60 percent of the time they come up empty (even when they know that such information exists within the organization). We found with this client that the coming-up-empty scenario dropped well into single digit percentages in the most recent deployment. Finally – and most importantly – in many cases our engineering teams actually expressed the opinion that some pieces of information, the discovery capability of the tool, found information that they otherwise simply would not have found based on key word searches which they were using in their legacy information. And the opportunity to find – discover – such unintended pieces of information often leads to finding new markets, new technologies, that can then lead to new business for the customer. And can often be even larger than the efficiency of productivity savings that we previously have documented.
Engineers often complain that when they look for legacy information, over 60% of the time they come up empty… We found with this client that the coming-up-empty scenario dropped into single digit percentages.