Why the 2017 Member Summit Will Be One of IRI’s Most Important Meetings

Veterans of IRI meetings are largely familiar with our brand, our value statement, our mission and, in general, who we are. They recognize that what we offer is unique, that the value gained by attending our meetings is unparalleled in terms of gaining high level contacts, networking with people who face similar challenges across every industry, and learning (as well as creating) genuine best practices in a field where best practices are tough to pin down. A few of these veterans are aware of the organizational modifications we’re currently undertaking, but most are not.

IRI is changing.

We don’t say this in the general sense of how all organizations evolve. We mean that IRI is thoroughly, comprehensively changing. We can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet, but know that this year’s Member Summit will be one to remember. But these changes alone are not the sole reason for why this year’s summit is important.

We gather data. It’s something we do pretty regularly. We survey our members and then use that data to determine what’s really important to industry and what looks like it might be emerging as an important issue over the next few years. In short, we look at trends. This year’s Member Summit theme is no accident. Strategic Challenges in R&D Talent Management is a project that emerged from several observed trends finally converging. We uncovered a few of these trends during the IRI2038 Futures Study that began back in 2012. Things like “The Hollywood Model” of talent management, ubiquitous connectivity, and “the death of distance.” If you don’t know what these are, I recommend reading the book.

From that study emerged another: Digitalization and its Implications for R&D Management. As we explored the future of R&D management in IRI2038 we encountered a recurring theme of digitalization, the process whereby physical components that were once considered “real” became the “fake” version and where the digitalized version of that product (it’s reference number in a database, for instance) became the “real” version (the one recognized as authentic). This digital revolution was explored in depth through the lenses of big data, collaboration, virtual experimentation, and simulation. Across each of these long-term studies, first IRI2038 then Digitalization, one factor seemed to affect and influence everything: talent management.

We should have no doubt now about the evolving nature of talent management today. Studies show Millennials moving jobs much more frequently than predecessor generations. Baby Boomers are beginning to retire en masse, creating leadership vacuums and challenges in knowledge management. Digital recruitment and job seeking sites like LinkedIn, Hired, Dice, and others allow for rapid applications to jobs around the globe and the availability of online collaboration tools lets teams work alongside each other without living in the same time zone. With ease of travel and ease of making oneself digitally present, there’s no wonder so many people move jobs so rapidly: the grass is always greener, the paycheck always larger, the vacation packages always more generous. A leading concern among R&D leaders today is the difficulty many have in recruiting and retaining top technical talent. But this concern is coupled with a perceived deficit of available technical talent and the high turnover of existing talent.

So what’s the right way to approach such a challenge?

Perhaps there isn’t one. Perhaps research will show that everyone is doing it wrong. Or, perhaps everyone is doing it right and it’s simply the nature of today’s market that it will be more challenging from here on out. Remember: we gather data. Without your voice, without your insights, our ability to determine what is happening is hindered. If you wish to learn more about the challenges others face when dealing with R&D talent management, come to the 2017 Member Summit in Fort Worth, TX, and participate in our research. Hear the results of our studies and add your voice to them. Volunteer. Create a research project with other industry professionals and take a deep dive into something you find significant about this particular challenge, or any other challenge related to R&D management.

Check out the agenda for this year’s meeting and tell us you’re not excited. We’re excited. The ideas our research teams are producing is very original and insightful and brimming with practitioner-oriented data. Will you be there to contribute your expertise? Will you be there to hear about the drastic changes happening at IRI?

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