How R&D lost its ampersand
The notion of corporate R&D is undergoing a radical transformation. Instead of viewing research and development as separate silos of an organization staffed by separate employees, companies are now working to fuse together R & D into a new innovation paradigm that places a premium on bringing products to market as quickly as possible. As The Economist explains, in the old days, companies like IBM, Xerox and AT&T created vast research organizations staffed by white-coated scientists, who in turn spent R&D lavish budgets in order to come up with The Next Big Thing. These massive R&D organizations are now a thing of the past:
"Now the big
corporate laboratories are either gone or a shadow of what they were.
Companies tinker with today's products rather than pay researchers to
think big thoughts. More often than not, firms hungry for innovation
look to mergers and acquisitions with their peers, partnerships with
universities and takeovers of venture-capital-backed start-ups. The
traditional separation of research and development... is rapidly disappearing, especially in the information-technology
However, this transformation does not mean that the glorious era of game-changing technological breakthroughs is over:
AT&T ran the telephone network, IBM
"The approach to R&D is
changing because long-term research was a luxury only a monopoly could
afford. In their heyday, the big firms dominated their markets.
dominated the mainframe-computer business and Xerox was a synonym for
photocopying. The companies themselves saw the cost of basic scientific
research as a small price to pay for such power.
R&D, none has any intention of filling the shoes left empty by Bell Labs or Xerox PARC. Research and development... are once again becoming entwined. Old-fashioned R&D is losing its ampersand."
technology firms are much less vertically integrated. They use networks
of outsourced suppliers and assemblers, which has led to the
splintering of research divisions. Even though big American firms still
spend billions of dollars on
The new paradigm involves integrating researchers into the everyday flow of the business. Instead of being given carte blanche to dream up new ideas, however, these researchers are typically assigned to commercially-viable projects and given specific time frames. As The Economist explains, the ultimate goal at companies like Microsoft, Google and IBM is to blur the distinction between "research" and "development," such that products emerge even faster from the research pipeline.
[image: AT&T Bell Labs from The Economist]
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.