Artificial intelligence is the core technology of digital transformation. It feeds the hopes and fears of the time, but it is also progressing in the real world. In particular in the R&I (Research and Innovation) of major industrial groups. It is a trend that is becoming increasingly observable: the question of artificial intelligence applications now makes it possible to situate the front line of digital transformation among industrial innovators. A front line crossed, as we will see, by five axes.
Axis 1: Weak signal integration
Integrating weak signals into new product design helps reduce the gap between what R&I does and what is needed by operations and marketing. Integrating weak signals helps to detect issues upstream, to take the initiative and be a driving force within the group, and to be the function that identifies new product opportunities the fastest. We develop this theme in the context of the beauty industry here.
Axis 2: Instrumentation of the R&I process
One of the serious perils of research has always been duplication, the reinvention of the proverbial wheel. Instrumenting the research process means first of all setting up a powerful knowledge management system. Then, it is to improve transparency with the other functions of the group. Finally, it is a means of strengthening team cohesion around a powerful tool.
Axis 3: Prediction of results
This axis is the most unevenly realized according to the industrial sectors. In the fields of mechanical engineering, tools for representing and simulating the behavior of structures have been developing for a long time. A prototype is only tested there long after its behavior has been simulated. But in fields where new molecules are being developed, this ideal is still more or less distant. But things are changing, including in the beauty industry.
Axis 4: Communication
The R&I function is not exempt from the fundamental human need for communication. The tools of digital transformation are at the service of efficient communication in two aspects:
- Communication from users to R&I, which allows direct knowledge of needs, validation of design hypotheses, and loyalty of pioneering users.
- Communication from R&I to users, to express support for an inspiring mission such as the fight for environmental protection and the decarbonization of industry. Innovation is a privileged moment to communicate with the end customer.
Area 5: Supplier traceability
The R&I function interacts with suppliers and has responsibility for the supply chain. Making this chain traceable and auditable allows to identify points of vigilance on which the ecosystem can then act in order to reinforce its own resilience. Such a resilience capacity allows both to reduce supplier risk, and to capitalize on the relationship of trust established with the customer.
These five axes constitute a sketch within the framework of a broader reflection. We will have the opportunity to return to this theme, which resonates with the urgency of the current period while calling for an ambitious vision capable of getting us out of the current crisis from above.