IBM unveils R&D consulting practice

IBM is set to launch new consulting services aimed at helping companies get the most from their R&D operations.

As part of its new R&D consulting practice, unveiled Wednesday, IBM will analyze companies' R&D operations, create streamlined business processes designed to shorten product development lifecycles, and create R&D roadmaps.

In IBM's latest CEO study, which polled 750 CEOs, respondents ranked R&D as their eighth source for new ideas. Many companies are struggling to align their R&D investments with business objectives and drive innovation and growth, says Melvin Weems, IBM's global leader for R&D management.

The new management consulting practice falls under IBM's Global Business Services division. Staff from IBM's internal research division will collaborate with business consultants for each engagement and share their experience operating IBM's own R&D organization, Weems says.

"We find that R&D managers who are down in the trenches really like sitting across the table from a peer, someone who is dealing with the same issues on a day-to-day basis as they are," he says.

Customers can choose from among a range of service offerings, including R&D transformation and optimization services. For those engagements, IBM consultants assess a company's R&D business model to help executives identify which areas R&D should focus on to improve profitability and strategic differentiation.

"R&D - as another cost of running the business - is no longer immune to the cost pressures that other line items are," Weems says. "It's important that R&D be efficient."

Ideation services are designed to help clients put processes in place to feed a continuous flow of new ideas, while collaboration services are aimed at determining where it makes sense for companies to seek R&D input from external partners. IBM also offers services geared toward R&D strategy, product innovation management, and portfolio management.

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