The design of intelligent systems is faced with specific challenges in the area of business processes, relating to both identifying the need and providing solutions. These can be translated into two main research challenges:
- Adaptability of the system and the users
Intelligent systems have the ability to adapt themselves to individual users, while users may also adapt themselves to individual systems. This creates a situation in which there is no longer a traditional, uniform set of consumer needs for target markets, but instead there is a wide variety of often very different instances of user–product interactions that together form the commercial arena for which a product should be designed.
- Innovation in flexible networks
Intelligent systems are most often a combination of various products and services, and are therefore designed and marketed by networks of different parties. These networks are currently often formed ad hoc during new product development projects (and are not necessarily the result of strategic decisions and carefully considered deployment of partnerships). Parties can leave and join at any stage during the New Product Development (NPD) process. This results in situations in which the involved business networks show their highly dynamic and variable character. In these open networks it is not only the products and services that need to be designed, but so do the value systems, to make sure that there is an attractive business case for all parties involved in the value chain. Because of the adaptive capability of the intelligent system and the user, these open networks are liable to modifications over time, and they must therefore be flexible to cope with these dynamics. The BPD group sees its main research challenge as both analyzing existing NPD processes and designing and creating new NPD processes through two main lines of research:
- New Product Development Processes for Intelligent Systems, Products and related Services
- New Product Development by Open Innovation Networks for Intelligent Systems
Since designing intelligent systems in an industrial context is almost always a multidisciplinary activity involving multiple industrial partners, the BPD group strives for close working and research relationships with leading partners in this field. The strategy of the BPD group is to ‘use' these industrial partners (of course to mutual benefit) both as a source of empirical data and as a testbed for the development and testing of new business design methods and strategies. In this context our long-term industrial partnerships are of vital importance for the research of the BPD group. In view of the multidisciplinary nature of the field, it is also essential that the group collaborates closely with other, related disciplines. This is expressed first of all in our network within the Department, but also in the relationships with specialist domains outside the Department. The medium-term policy of the group is to maintain the existing relationships (with both industrial partners and relevant academic disciplines inside and outside the Department and university), and at the same time to gradually extend the network with relevant parties as the research program of the Department takes further shape.