Gains in time and cost reduction to develop new products of the order of 90 % are being claimed by Engage, a GKN company which this summer launched an initiative to its provide knowledge-based engineering to clients including Daimler Chrysler Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Shorts, bombardier, Jaguar and Lotus Cars.
Its new service is based on the former GKN Westland Design Services and Westland Systems Assessment firms, and Engage says it’s about delivering “closely engineered solutions” spanning the product lifecycle from concept to in-service support.
Engage will be using its KBO Environment (the repository of its hundreds of many years of engineering expertise, as used by many automotive and aerospace companies) with ICAD Built In software from Knowledge Technolgies.
KBO manages complex processes and covers product definitions, rules, performance data, legislative and safety codes and design best practices, semi-automating new product introduction (NPI).
The launch comes at an apposite moment: as a major survey by Cranfield School of Management and Microsoft reveals “British industry is falling short of Blair’s knowledge economy”.
In the Government’s 1998 White Paper, Tony Blair comments: “Our success depends on how well we exploit our most valuable assets – our knowledge, skills and creativity … they are at the heart of a modern knowledge-driven economy.” But Cranfield’s research report ‘Realising the value of knowledge’ (www.microsoft.com/uk/knowldegereport) claims organisations are still struggling to realise business benefit from knowledge.
The research was conducted with nearly 600 firms, 35% of which were in manufacturing and engineering – the largest so far in this sector. And it reveals that only 50% of companies discuss it at board level, and only 28% have implemented an organisation-wide strategy.
This despite manufacturing respondents identifying internal quality, responsiveness, innovation and growth as key business benefits to be had from knowledge management. And despite the findings of earlier research by PriceWaterhouse Coopers and the World Economic Forum which reveals 60% of CEOs believing knowledge management critical to their success.
Others benefits identified in the Cranfield included better collaboration, capturing and transferring knowledge process efficiencies and improving customer and supplier relationships.
Says Karin Breu, researcher for Cranfield: “The largest untapped opportunities for wealth creation are in innovation and growth. We were able to build up a profile of the high performing organisation as one typified by the use of integrated knowledge management technology to support the drive to customer satisfaction.”
l Meanwhile, IBM reminds us that knowledge is power – and says that data mining should be being used more widely. The firm says its data mining engines can give firm foundation to what might otherwise be mere hunches, and reveal connections and patterns hitherto hidden – on the factory floor and in the business domain.
l Knowledge Management Software, the author of the Deskartes software, has allied with business intelligence software developer Cognos. The two say that combining Deskartes ability to manage unstructured information in natural language with Cognos’ data ananlysis will give users “competitive advantage in the new e-economy”.