Why is it essential for the R&D manager to stay updated about market trends and competitors

Experimentation and an open mind are without a doubt two very important cornerstones when discussing the requirements for innovative thinking.

Staying informed and up to date with what the wider community, your industry is experimenting with and creating is a necessary pairing to support the first two key ingredients to productive R&D output. Andreas Saar highlights time and again the importance of keeping up to ate with the progress made within and without the industry as an invaluable asset for keeping your team focused, creative and encouraging innovation.

1. Watch your competitors closely, and learn


It seems that every day there is a new trend, whether it be technologically grounded or a brand new approach to an old problem. It’s important that your team be kept in the loop of what their peers and rivals are doing, to introduce a little sense of competition and to inform their direction of innovation as well. By being open and forming small teams within the company, experimentation with new technology and trends taking the industry by storm is a sure fire way to engage your team and promote innovative R&D activity.


2. Let everyone experiment


That’s not to say that you should only encourage freedom to experiment with new market trends and the work of your competitors to your engineers and designers. Manufacturers also need the space to be able to test out new materials, methods of production and combinations of the two. By fostering an informed atmosphere and allowing the freedom to experiment, you will be assisting innovative work to limitless ends, and will likely have a motivated, inspired team producing the best work possible as they push their creative boundaries. All workers at all levels have the desire to be innovative and to be able to take pride in the work they do. Manufacturers are interested in reworking materials in combination to create a more effective or more resilient component. Ensuring that all ends of the chain of R&D are working to push boundaries informed by the work of their competitors is of the utmost importance in the bid to remain at the top in the market, and to continue to deliver new and industry pushing products.


3. When your team says it can’t be done, remind them that anything can be


The biggest problem an R&D manager might face in his team is unwillingness to change, to push boundaries. If your team tells you no, ‘you can only use this for one function, we can never achieve the quality or number of prints required’, it demonstrates a dangerous inability to adapt and experiment with new technologies and materials. The R&D manager must think flexibly at all times, and be curious as to how new technologies can open up new pathways for innovation within the team and the industry. It is important to build teams open to trialling new technologies in order to keep up with competitors, and to develop a structure that encourages experimentation.


With an overabundance of new technologies and competitors trying an endless number of different things, it’s important that the R&D manager synthesise the information and pass along to the team only the most important and relevant information.

Should the R&D team become inundated with an overload of information, it could prove overly distractive and not conducive to productive and progressive work. It is the R&D manager’s role to push his team, inform them and to make sure they are at all times moving forward with innovation in an informed and relevant way to the rest of the industry.


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