Digital Transformation: Where Are You On The Journey?

As innovation advisors, we ensure our clients understand the impacts of digital transformation on strategy and business operations.

We believe the derived value of digital transformation – efficiency, reduced costs, idea generation – will be felt across the value chain in every industry.  Greater connectivity across industries and disparate areas (e.g. personalized health connected to medicine, food, and environmental variables) will be the new norm. In the wake of digital transformation, organizations must be able to sort through enormous data sets and analytical strategies. Organizations must determine what data to mine, how to analyze it, and what value can be derived.

So, what does this mean for your organization?

Our work with clients across industries indicates that the timing and impact of digital transformation may depend on the type and function of the business. Digital transformation typically relies on large quantities of data. While production, sales, and market research may have access to large quantities of data, some functions may not.

image of a robot with a computer

R&D Data Generation Across Industries

In food companies, R&D tends to be a boutique operation. A few people are creating formulas, conducting consumer testing, then scaling-up to full production. This is particularly true where the product is an assembly of multiple parts (think: frozen meals). Although there are data collected at each step of the process, there’s likely not enough to feed a data-hungry analytics program to go beyond means and modes.

In contrast, R&D operations in data-heavy industries like pharma rely on different processes that often use and create very large quantities of data. Small molecule design, synthesis, and high throughput screening can easily involve hundreds of reactions and variables in order to generate and optimize a lead compound. Digital transformation is playing a big role in pharma by assisting scientists in virtual drug design and testing, as well as linking successful drug development and sales back to early R&D decisions (lifecycle management).

Somewhere in between food and pharma is R&D for ingredient suppliers – flavors, fragrances, and functional ingredients, and single-phase foods like beverages. Flavor R&D requires identifying, analyzing and considering how several thousands of molecules and their combinations impact the taste and olfactory system. These organizations generally create enough data to enable reliable modeling and robust digital transformation activities within R&D.

where are you in your digital transformation?

Digital transformation is as much about your organizational readiness as it is about the technology. Perhaps you’re unsure about where to start. Or maybe you’ve begun your transformation and are struggling with potential risks. Regardless of where you are in the journey, we work with you to define your strategy and goals and determine your readiness to achieve the goals. We help you plan your roadmap and define pilot projects so you can see benefits long-term.

If you haven’t yet begun your digital transformation, or want to understand more about what it means for your organization, we’re here to help.

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About the authors

Susan Mayer is our technical food industry leader, with great problem-solving, strategic, and communication skills. Our clients rely on her experience in product development, product lifecycle management, and public-private food industry partnerships to understand how technology, research, and the right suppliers can create innovation opportunities. How does her work with us benefit food companies? Susan believes that our human-centered design perspective makes all the difference. ‘Product developers always believe they are thinking about the consumer, but our human-centered design approach to considering technology brings an entirely different perspective.’ Susan applies her love of food science to her hobbies; she and her husband formulate and brew beer, much to the delight of their friends and neighbors. Susan has an M.S. in Food Science and a B.S. in Foods from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is a Certified Food Scientist.
Lawrence Blume, Ph.D. is passionate about collaborative partnerships that bring innovative solutions to challenging research and development roadblocks. A lead advisor for our food science and biotechnology innovation, Lawrence brings extensive experience leading technology-focused opportunity forecasts in support of competitive advantage, product differentiation, and commercialization strategies for C-level executives at companies ranging from early startups to Fortune 500s. Over the last decade, Dr. Blume has applied his background in cannabis physiology and pharmacology towards novel commercial applications in the medical, CPG, and food and beverage spaces. He received a Ph.D. in Physiology & Pharmacology from Wake Forest School of Medicine and a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Biochemistry from Duquesne University.

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