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Turbocharging Speed to Market

New concept “speedster” has been coined to describe companies that have reduced the time they take to design, develop and deliver products to customers, also known as “speed to market.”

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Speed to market is an increasingly key priority as companies compete on their ability to sense and respond to change faster than others. Those that can increase their speed to market can gain a competitive advantage.

Amid the current macroeconomic pressures and the burdens facing the industrial sector, the C-suites of industrial enterprises (IEs) are building increased speed into their operations on a permanent basis as a means of longer-term success and, increasingly, survival.

A new report from Accenture details how new technologies are helping IEs accelerate the speed to market process.

As part of the research, which is based on a survey of 1,200 executives in the industrial sectors across 13 countries, we identified companies that had the shortest operational practices across three main pillars: ideation, planning, and delivery. Then, we analyzed which ones had leveraged advanced technologies—including machine learning/ AI (artificial intelligence), cloud computing, and digital twins—to reduce time and costs.

The research found overwhelmingly that, what we call “speedsters,” are those companies that reduced time and increased efficiency the most. Importantly, they were able to do so due to a significantly higher technology leverage across all three pillars.

For example, using machine learning, speedsters achieved time savings more than seven times that of “starters”—companies that reduced time and increased efficiency the least. Those in the middle we labeled “accelerators.”

Speedsters excelled not only in timesaving, but in cutting costs too. For instance, the use of automated guided vehicles enabled speedsters to achieve cost savings 30 times greater than that of starters. Equally as important, we found that speedsters outperform both starters and accelerators in terms of financial performance. In the five year period from 2016-2021, speedsters achieved 4% higher annual growth than accelerators and 18% higher than that of starters.

Improving efficiency across the board
What insight can industrial companies gain from our research? Clearly, if they aren’t doing so already, companies need to be thinking about harnessing and leveraging advanced technologies to ensure enhanced operational efficiency, both in terms of cutting costs and time. Our research points to a number of ways that this can be achieved.

In the ideation stage, companies should use machine learning and analytics to analyze large amounts of data stored in the cloud to identify patterns, which accelerates the analysis of simulations and testing results. As an example, DoverFueling Solutions developed a digital content delivery system to support video advertising at its fuel pumps. The company leveraged IoT Intelligence and a cloud platform to reduce their time to market from several years to a few months. In the process, they also increased efficiency and can now provide a better customer experience.

During the planning phase for speedsters, planning and execution processes come together. KUKA, a robot manufacturer, has been investing in enabling technologies to enable a plan-to- produce process. Working with two partners, KUKA recently launched a “Smart Factory as a Service” offering, which will independently and flexibly produce different product types in any quantity and fulfill clients’ changing demand for customized products, shortening time to market for new products by up to 30%.

Finally, in the delivery stage, companies should focus on integrating manufacturing with the supply chain to create a digital thread that enables the seamless flow of data across the enterprise. This enables better distribution and supply chain network optimization and planning, making it possible to gather large amounts of data in one place and allow different entities to work together to increase speed and efficiency.

The road ahead
As powerful as these technologies are, industrial companies will need to approach them in tandem with process improvements and people-related factors. It means new ways of working, such as automating manual activities, and eliminating and leveraging data to respond to change faster. Equally important, companies must focus on bringing their people through this time of change through upskilling and cultural shifts. Companies that do so can better address rapidly changing customer expectations with innovative products and experiences and, ultimately, emerge the strongest.

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