To make the leap from the world of startups and innovation specialists and to develop fully in the industrial environment, the Proof of Concept model must meet a number of prerequisites.
Proof of Concept (POC) may still be the preserve of startups, but it is slowly but surely making a place for itself in industry. And with good reason: by testing in real-world conditions an innovation which is outside the scope of mental representation, POC shrinks the design phase and operational implementation into a single sequence. The outcome? Secure, accelerated innovation.
“POC isn’t a magic formula. Prototyping doesn’t mean testing left, right and centre.”
But something which – in the world of startups – is based on an agile methodology designed to determine quickly and at reduced costs the relevance of strategic intuitions, involves a more cumbersome, complex process and more restrictive specifications when transposed to an industrial scale.
“POC isn’t a magic formula,” cautions Thomas Leseigneur, innovation manager at Actemium, the VINCI Energies brand dedicated to industrial solutions. “Prototyping doesn’t mean testing left, right and centre. Before launching anything, you have to accurately identify the need both in terms of market appetite and operational feasibility, and you have to know where you want to go and what you want to achieve,” he adds.
Launching a POC entails a number of prerequisites: ensuring the scope is limited and manageable (amount of data, features, and people); defining performance indicators accepted by all stakeholders; and involving, if need be, the IS (Information Systems) department and various company business lines in the process. Project managers thus ensure – prior to validation by IT departments – that integration resources are in place and prevent the risk of technical barriers arising at the production stage. As for the business lines, who better to judge scenarios and direct operational choices?
Collaborating and breaking down barriers
“A collaborative approach is undoubtedly the best guarantee of success for a POC,” says Leseigneur. “It’s a question of seeking the right data in the right place, knowing what business lines or even functions will be directly involved in the operational implementation of future development, and defining the contribution of a particular business line within the innovation business model. All of this can only be optimally achieved – in terms of time and performance – by breaking down barriers,” he adds.
It may not be a magic solution, but POC is a tool that can be used to address something that is a major issue for industrial companies: their capacity to manage digital transformation. Ultimately then, the idea is to meet large-scale challenges which are more than just technological.
For Actemium’s innovation manager, the most significant step involves the ability of integrators to move from POC to POV: proof of value. “Think of the solutions that have been put forward to enhance industrial data,” says Leseigneur. “We now know that these work. Capturing data, carrying it, storing it, analysing it: all of that has pretty much been mastered from a technological point of view. So proving a concept adds little in this case. However, showing that a concept has value is a significant step in terms of industrial innovation.”