Ventana Research believes that Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI) technology is essential to the success of the converting innovation phase of innovation performance management (IPM). But the success of much PLM/NPDI effort depends on effective problem-solving along the way. That’s why the availability of a problem-solving workbench within every PLM/NPDI package adds more power to your innovation elbow.
The Theory of Inventive Problem-solving, or TRIZ, originated in the former USSR some decades ago. Intended for use in a scientific/engineering problem-solving domain, it focuses on uncovering existing know-what, know-how, know-who and even know-when intellectual capital to help engineers solve product development problems by leveraging the effort of others. Although TRIZ principles are often applied at the conceptual stage of product development, they could equally well be applied to help generate innovation possibilities or realize more value from deliverables in the marketplace. Essentially, TRIZ provides a means to create a repeatable problem-solving process that helps reduce the possibility that your supposed innovation effort is simply “reinventing the wheel” – at your cost.
Invention Machines’ Goldfire Innovator is an example of a software application that enhances and extends the principles of TRIZ. Goldfire Innovator provides a problem-solving workbench that should be no more than a click away from the desktop of every product development engineer serious about improving their problem-solving competency. In essence, Goldfire Innovator is a knowledge management engine with a focus on solving engineering problems in order to help create new products (innovate), uncover new uses for existing products (renovate), and reduce defects or improve quality in existing products (rehabilitate).
At the heart of Goldfire Innovator is a semantic query engine that leverages your internal local/personal and shared/corporate knowledge bases, various external patent databases, and an integrated set of proprietary knowledge bases provided with the application, to research a problem domain and then optimize a solution by applying root cause analysis, visual function modeling, TRIZ, and value engineering principles. The semantic engine is not just a fancy keyword search engine -- it uses syntactical smarts to ensure that you see a different set of results when, for example, you use the word “power” as a noun rather than a verb. In effect, each problem subject becomes its own knowledgebase in Goldfire Innovator, allowing a genuinely deep investigation to be undertaken and, quite importantly, developed and archived for future use.
Clearly defining a problem through visual function modeling supplies know-what knowledge, focused research via semantic queries helps to narrow the know-how knowledge, mapping patent citations builds a picture of know-who knowledge, and proprietary innovation trend analysis helps to predict know-when conditions.
Ventana Research sees Invention Machine’s Goldfire Innovator as a useful knowledge management application that happens to be currently focused on helping engineers solve largely scientific problems. However, the technology has other potential uses, including as the engine for a collaborative effort to share knowledge and solve what are often in reality shared problems – for example, in a networked business model such as supplier-sub contractor or even software vendor and reseller to improve part quality or service delivery. Problem-solving is the genesis of much innovation -- particularly the most common form, incremental innovation of existing products and services -- and Goldfire Innovator will definitely provide a useful added dimension to your existing PLM/NPDI efforts.
Stewart McKie is European Analyst Director at Ventana Research.
Ventana Research is the preeminent research and advisory services firm helping our clients maximize stakeholder value with Performance Management throughout their organizations. Putting research in a business and IT context we provide insight and education on the best practices, methodologies and technologies that enable our clients to leverage assets to understand, optimize, and align strategies and processes to meet their goals and objectives.