Some techniques seem to drive new product development better than others.
The benefits of knowledge management are often accepted as a given, but its role in producing specific desired outcomes is not well known. Recent research employs survey-based and qualitative analysis to determine the effectiveness of various knowledge management methods in driving and supporting new product development.“Trends in new product development include decreasing time of development and increasing product complexity,” explains researcher Anja Schulze, project leader at the University of St. Gallen Institute for Technology Management. Since new products derive in part from acquiring new knowledge, she says, it stands to reason that companies that can create knowledge faster and more comprehensively will keep their competitive edge.Schulze and researcher Martin Hoegl, assistant professor of management at the Bocconi University School of Management, asked research and development managers at 33 companies — including Royal Dutch/ Shell, ABB, Siemens, BP, Volkswagen, IBM and Hewlett-Packard — about new products they had brought to market in the past three years. The researchers then surveyed 356 engineers and other individuals involved in 94 projects to determine their familiarity and satisfaction with 14 discrete knowledge management methods.