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How aerospace is reducing costs and increasing knowledge retention with Social Knowledge Networks

We're kicking off our Vertical View series today by profiling the aerospace industry, and how it can use Presto Social Knowledge Networks to address challenges surrounding contracting, cost containment, regulation compliance, and knowledge transfer and retention. We'll be going through seven more industries over the coming weeks. After you read a profile, I'd also encourage you to check out some of our other series on Social Knowledge Networks for more info, including our Road to Social Knowledge Networks and How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs.

Let's get started!

Aerospace Industry at 30,000 Feet

In the aerospace industry, information is key to product innovation, mission safety, contract pricing, regulatory and quality compliance, and supplier collaboration.

Competition is fierce, and companies' profitability depends on their technical expertise and ability to accurately price long-term contracts. They also need to effectively manage their supplier network to ensure their pricing, procurement, and production processes move smoothly. Even slight inefficiencies in the contract pricing or manufacturing process can translate into contracts won or lost.

Complicating these demands are the stringent military and government regulations for security, quality, and compliance that aerospace companies must follow. The information and documentation crucial to meeting these regulations must be reliably stored and easily accessed.

The knowledge workers in this industry are scientists and engineers. It's acknowledged that the engineering workforce is aging, raising issues of knowledge retention and knowledge transfer for many companies.

But perhaps the most prominent challenge in aerospace is financial: Almost every company saw a significant reduction in share price in the second half of 2008 due to the economic meltdown and investor concerns over the future U.S. defense spending. The industry has been experiencing fewer commercial airplane orders and more cancellations and deferrals.

Companies' futures will be influenced by a number of external factors. Most importantly, however, the American government is facing tough choices as it is challenged to balance national security needs with the economic crisis, which is putting unprecedented pressure on government discretionary spending.

Aerospace's Case for Social Knowledge Networks

This is where aerospace companies have found value with Inmagic Presto. Some of our aerospace and defense customers include NASA, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney. NASA, for instance, uses Presto to store, organize, and provide agency-wide access to mission-critical video and imaging assets. Hundreds of engineers rely on this data to increase mission safety, review design decisions, and monitor launch results.

NASA uses Presto to categorize and organize its 12 terabytes of launch, flight, and landing data -- including 5 million high-res digital photos, 10,000 videos, and 7,000 motion picture films. It also uses Presto to meet federal codes for archiving documentary and historical resources. Like NASA, other aerospace organizations can use Presto to:

Search for and discover documents, images, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations, videos, and other digital files associated with any of their company's products and contracts, past or present. When complex technical documentation is properly managed, aerospace organizations can easily access it when they need to provide it for proposals, contracts, and federal regulations.

Increase employee productivity. Because Presto can house an organization's entire knowledge repository, scientists and engineers need to conduct just one search to find the information they need, not multiple information silos and disorganized network drives.

Be more efficient. Engineers and scientists can focus their time on their own core competencies and the business objective at hand, rather than wasting time searching for and validating information. Sales leaders can quickly find data they need when time is of the essence, such as when creating proposals and negotiating contracts.

Drive collaboration. Aerospace professionals can use the social technology capabilities in Presto to collaborate with one other on projects. For instance, an authorized scientist can use the commenting function to add his input to a research document created by his colleague. The entire research team could have RSS alerts configured that would send the comment as an e-mail message to their inbox, so they know when changes have been made to the document. They can then add their own comments, and rate others' comments. The need for supplier collaboration can be similarly addressed with Presto's ability to provide a portal for supplier communities.

Capitalize on knowledge assets. This unlocks an organization's collective wisdom, and captures it in one secure environment. Information assets become living, evolving documents. This facilitates knowledge transfer and retention, and preserves a workforce's most valuable asset for ongoing future use.

Aerospace companies are under increasing pressure to make justifications regarding IT expenditures. IT programs that directly impact revenue or costs are given the highest priority, and some aerospace companies are putting Presto at the top of their list for all these reasons and benefits.

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