RiCK™ is used by many Ricardo experts when conducting technical research and to locate knowledge and information they need to solve problems for our clients. We’re interviewing a series of Ricardo experts so that they can provide an overview of their knowledge gathering process when solving problems for clients and how they approach it. Here’s an overview of our question and answer session with Rimoon Agaiby, Principal of Ricardo Strategic Consulting Central Europe . Rimoon is based in Germany, and leads the RSC team at the Munich office.
The team works with clients in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with the aim of positioning companies for long term success as the industry changes with developments like electrification. Rimoon has a BEng, MSc and PhD in semiconductor electronics. He has completed an MBA from the Alliance Manchester Business School and an Executive program with INSEAD in Fontainbleau.
What kind of problems might a client have to overcome?
We have several projects where we work with SMEs who are suppliers into the automotive value chain. Those suppliers have historically provided components for internal combustion engines. They are facing a problem where they are potentially seeing their business contracting over the coming years. The number of vehicles being sold with internal combustion engines is declining. An example of a typical problem we might help a client to solve is reviewing their existing capabilities. We then help them identify how they might switch to cater for new electrified vehicle components. Moving towards electrification is one of the most common challenges we help clients with currently.
How do you begin knowledge-gathering when you start thinking about a client's problem?
So structure for us is very, very important. What we typically tend to do is ensure that we're posing enough questions to isolate the problem, or identify what we think the real problem is. This process is a very similar approach to what would happen when any one of us goes to see a physician. We try to articulate what we think our problem is, and we do this together with the client. Imagine Ricardo as the physician; we will typically pose a few more questions to try to narrow what the issue could potentially be. Then, we would try to run some tests to confirm that that is the real issue. Before we start working on the solution, we have to arrive at the point where we're really confident that that is the real problem we’re addressing.
Do you need to use secondary research to help with the problem solving and solution process?
We will typically use desk research as a tool to make sure that we have a first-order understanding of the effects at hand. I think we're very fortunate these days that we live at a time where there is a wealth of data available that's just aching to be accessed. We use multiple sources of information to ensure that we're triangulating and making sure that whatever data we're accessing is valid. We will typically get data from more than one source, and we use a multi-tiered approach. The first thing we usually do is search for information on the web; if we’re looking for example, at electric propulsion systems, we will use the resources we find in web search to get a high-level understanding of specifications. That’s a starting point. Our next step would be to access information from a database like RiCK™, which gives us more in- depth information. For example, when I search within RiCK™ for electric propulsion systems, I would find conference proceedings and publications from companies like Audi. The manufacturer will put a lot of detail covering their new electric SUV that includes specifications in terms of propulsion and motors. This information provides the level of detail required by our clients, so if we are working with a supplier that is entering this space, we can quickly provide real technical specifications.
How do your clients benefit from this information?
Many of our clients embark on reverse engineering to get the level of detailed information they need. They may purchase several vehicles each year and strip them down to get an understanding of what’s inside. Gathering that information can take a client 12 months, cost up to £300000 in vehicle costs and in addition time from internal engineers. Working with us, we are often able to provide the same kind of information in less than 3 months at a fraction of the cost. Of course, the data has to be available, and we have to be able to find it. RiCK™ is great as it has such a comprehensive list of publications available that I can’t find from a web search.
Does using RiCK™ offer advantages to you over other methods of research?
One advantage that I find of using RiCK™ over other databases I’ve used in the past is that it’s agnostic in terms of the organisations from which it features information. It indexes from several publications and sources so you can do most of your search in one place - for us if we are able to hit 80-90% of the information we need from one source, that’s enough. It also goes back in time, I have used research that was conducted in the 1980s. RiCK™ indexes the types of publications I need to access, so if I’m looking for something very specific in my search terms like ‘connectivity solutions from OEMs’, I might get news articles or unvalidated sources from Google, but in RiCK™ I’d be confident that the results contain content I can trust.
How easy was it for you to use RiCK™, and would you recommend it to others?
I think there are two points to using RiCK™. If the client really has very specific questions, and they really need a detailed level of information on the certain technical problem they're facing, then I'd use something like RiCK™ as it can help you focus on that particular topic. What our team typically do, is go through the wealth of data, and summarise whatever is relevant for a client - so I’d definitely recommend this. I think most customers would be able to find a wealth of data within an hour of using it to search and we can help to refine results for them. We may be able to take 300 or 400 results and summarise to the most relevant 10 or 20 publications. Together we can reduce the amount of time and effort they need to solve their problems.
Find out more about RiCK™ 2.0.