Spend Management Goes Upstream (Part 3 — The Akoya Philosophy)

As I've talked about before, driving cost information upstream into the design and engineering function is a holy grail of sorts for those who make products, regardless of industry. Whether it is a stamped part in the industrial manufacturing sector or a garment in the retail arena, if engineers and designers have better access to costing information throughout the design phase, they will make better feature and specification decisions that avoid locking in unnecessary cost and will be able to bring better products to market faster.

But imagine a world where cost is only parameter that is possible to drive further upstream into the design equation. What if engineers had ready access to the impact of their design models on such areas on quality, reliability and performance -- in addition to cost? That is the vision and philosophy of Akoya, a new breed of analytics solution provider that uses engineering and feature information to help companies make better design decisions.

Akoya believes that from a technology perspective, there are a number of fundamental things great design organizations already do today. These include using the most appropriate CAD system to aid design. These advanced organizations also collaborate and share data internally and externally as required with product lifecycle management (PLM) capabilities. And in addition, they consider the activity based costing elements of their design and manufacturing process. But Akoya argues that even the combination of these three activities will only get a design organization so far.

In carving out their niche, Akoya positions themselves at the intersection of science and analytics, helping companies make better sense of their design data. Just as financial driven BI systems rest above ERP/MRP, Akoya is a solution that slots in above CAD from an enterprise architecture perspective. PLM information is not required -- only design and financial information is. The net of this positioning is a vision to help companies design faster and cheaper, providing a material impact on company margin and overall financial performance through better design.

How does the Akoya solution work today? I'll quote an excerpt from an earlier Spend Matters post on the subject: "Akoya, an upstart analytics vendor that analyzes feature-level CAD information to help procurement and engineering organizations conduct top-down "should-costing" efforts to understand how individual design features in a part impact total cost, is finally getting some media play ... [according to Industry Week], "Akoya's software is able to take input from [a] company's existing files and, through regression analysis, identify pricing and cost trends as they relate to part configurations. Simply put, Akoya's solution can quickly compare the characteristics of thousands of parts with the assumption that similar characteristics should have similar costs."

As a sidenote on this quotation, Akoya views cost as just one element to help designers make better decisions (so look for far more from them in the future on incorporating performance, quality, and risk information in the design phase as well).

Since I'm not an expert on Akoya's realm -- and I think it's a critical part of the Spend Management discussion -- I thought I would invite some of the true experts who are to discuss the subject further. Hence on the weekends throughout Q107, I look forward to welcoming both Akoya and aPriori to Spend Matters to share their philosophies and views about driving Spend Management and operational intelligence upstream to improve design decisions in a series of guest blogs. aPriori will be posting their "mini-series" on the weekends first, with Akoya to follow. Stay tuned!

Jason Busch

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