How do these technologies create business value for the implementing organizations.
Please read the case and answer3 questions at the end.
Goodyear, JEA, OSUMC, and Monsanto: Cool Technologies Driving Competitive Advantage.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then capitalism is
surely the mother of innovation. Companies are being
driven to develop unique applications of undeniably cool
technologies by the drive to create a sustainable competitive
advantage. “At the end of the day, as cool as this thing we’ve
developed is, it’s a tool,” says Stephanie Wernet, Goodyear’s
CIO. “It is meant to serve a business end. In our case, this
tool lets us put out new, more innovative products faster
than the competition.”
Working with Sandia National Labs, Goodyear’s IT
department developed software to design and test tires virtually.
In the past, the company built physical prototypes and
tested them by driving thousands of miles on tracks. Using a
mathematical model, the software simulates tire behavior in
different driving conditions so that the designer can see how
the tire gets pushed, pulled, and stretched as it rolls down a
road, hits bumps, turns corners, screeches to a halt, and grips
the road in wet, dry, and icy conditions. Goodyear wanted to
shorten that time to get its products to market more quickly.
Three research and development employees advanced
the idea of testing prototypes using computer simulations,
which could do the job faster.
The company had never done simulations but figured
initial investments and subsequent maintenance costs were
worth the payoff. Goodyear’s cost of goods sold, as well as its
sales, decreased by 2.6 percent from 2003 to 2004, the year
its first fully simulated tires hit the market. Meanwhile, the
research and development (R&D) budget for tire testing and
design decreased by 25 percent.
Custom-built software runs on hundreds of processors on
hundreds of Linux computers in a massively parallel computing
environment. Goodyear invested more than $6 million to
build this high-powered computing environment. It plans to
expand and upgrade its Linux clusters to meet business demands
for new tires and to improve the fidelity of its virtual
tests. The company believes it is the first tire maker to use
computers to design and test its wheels. Although the auto
industry has done computer-assisted design work since the
1980s, the technology had not been applied to tires because
their malleable materials made simulation difficult.
Designers can perform 10 times more tests, reducing a
new tire’s time to market from two years to as little as nine
months. Goodyear attributes its sales growth from $15 billion
in 2003 to $20 billion in 2005 to new products introduced as
a result of this change.
Public utility JEA uses neural network technology to
create an artificial intelligence system it has recently implemented.
The system automatically determines the optimal
combinations of oil and natural gas the utility’s boilers need
to produce electricity cost-effectively, given fuel prices and
the amount of electricity required. It also ensures that the
amount of nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted during the generation
process does not exceed government regulations.
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