Are you ready for the Digital Revolution?
The Digital Revolution is much more than a fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. Its impact on manufacturing is less than on the service sector of the economy because more of the activities can be moved from the physical world to its Digital Twin.
Closer to the heart of the Paperless Lab Academy audience, the Digital Revolution can speed up the innovation process of a company enormously by moving parts of it from the wet labs to simulations of product properties, from pilot plants and factory trials to simulations of production lines, from studying customers in shops to simulations of buying behaviour, from observation of consumers at home to simulations of product liking, etc.
Within the current R&D departments, this relies on extending the skills of scientists, product developers, and engineers with performing simulations within the framework of the Digital Twin of R&D, rather than working in the physical world or performing disconnected simulations. At the same time, they must realize that every measurement that is still performed is data that is crucial for creating, continuously validating, and maintaining the models that are key for the simulations – data has a strategic value on top of its operational value in experiments or tests. The Digital Revolution also creates new, specialized jobs like creators and custodians of models, data sets, and ontologies.
If building a company-wide Digital Twin provides its R&D teams with access to live data from other functions like manufacturing, customer and consumer care, this helps to make more business-relevant models dealing with issues currently beyond the visibility of R&D. Better integration of R&D in the primary business process benefits the company as a whole and R&D within the company.
Name: Rik Pepermans
Title: IT Innovation leader for R&D
Even before I got my degree in chemical engineering, I fell in love with research. I liked the synthesis lab, I enjoyed advanced measurements (NMR), but simulations of molecules got me excited: ”You don’t understand what you cannot simulate.” I kept teaching this long after I switched academia for Unilever R&D as my main job.
After 20 years as a researcher, I made a career switch to IT manager for R&D driven by the vision of a digitized research function. Whatever my current job title might be, I am a matchmaker between R&D and IT in Unilever, engaging in the digital transformation of Unilever R&D.
After leaving Unilever later in 2019, I look forward to opportunity to apply my experience in first enabling organisations with IT solutions and digitised processes, and then truly transforming them digitally