Prospector Enterprise, a new platform from Prospector, brings all of your product performance, procurement and regulatory data together in one central, secure access point. To get the story behind this game-changing innovation product, we talked with Nick Visser, product manager for Custom Solutions. Visser started with Prospector in 1997 as a software engineer. He designed Prospector Enterprise’s earliest ancestor, Custom Prospector, for its first client around 1999.
What inspired the creation of Prospector Enterprise?
Visser: Prospector Enterprise began in UL Prospector for the plastics industry. OEMs expressed the need to make their employees aware of which materials that they were using for various parts (applications) and steer upcoming material selection to those same products. So, the needs of the procurement office were the primary driver for the creation of Prospector Enterprise. With a few customers using Prospector Enterprise (which was then called Custom Prospector), the common themes had emerged and the product became more well-defined. We saw the same needs emerge in the raw material and ingredients industries we serve, so Prospector Enterprise’s focus widened beyond plastics to include them as well.
What does Prospector Enterprise offer?
- Preferred Products: tag materials and ingredients with categories relevant to your organization. Sort all query results accordingly.
- Links: link to any relevant internal documentation and systems (ERP).
- Custom Product Data: any type of data that is relevant for your organization can be made available in Prospector.
- Teams: allow member of your organization to assemble into teams for various projects. A project will have a list of materials and ingredients, associated documentation, and will facilitate communication and alerts for the team.
- Support: Prospector Enterprise is a custom solution, and our team can help understand your needs, design and implementation, and load relevant information. Our support gets customers rolling quickly.
What benefits have early adopters of Prospector Enterprise reported?
- Selecting preferred products and suppliers drives cost down.
- Efficiency in the design/formulation process (material selection) shortens the development cycles and promotes efficient innovation, lowering costs and increasing competitiveness.
- The integration of materials data and systems with the essential product data in Prospector gives a comprehensive platform for formulators and designers.
Who is Prospector Enterprise built for?
- R&D (Formulators/Designers) - Product delivers an efficient process by providing complete information about all relevant products integrated with internal data and documentation from other departments in their organization (most notably procurement and regulatory/compliance) as well as internal R&D information (design/performance data)
- Regulatory/Compliance - Product provides a platform to effectively disseminate (and manage) information that is essential for R&D: assure that material/ingredient selection meets .
- Procurement - Product provides a platform to effectively disseminate (and manage) information that is essential for R&D (material/ingredient selection).
- IT benefits from efficient workflow that they do not have to facilitate.
- Marketing - Prospector Enterprise drives product innovation and success, which marketing can actively promote.
- Leadership is assured that they have an efficient innovation process, supported by the latest information from global suppliers, coupled with the latest materials/ingredients information from within their organization.
How did Prospector Enterprise evolve as it was being developed?
Our experience with early customers in plastics led us to a few common themes.
- Every customer had a notion of “preferred products” and wanted results from all product queries to steer users to select those products. We saw this theme across the board: it’s powerful stuff!
- Internal data and documentation varied considerably by customer. We needed an adaptable platform that could show (or link to) all kinds of internal data.
- Customers often wanted to search within Prospector using various internal criteria. We needed customized query capability.
- Customers came with internal systems and processes that they either really liked (and wanted to integrate with) or disliked (and wanted to replace). We had to support both cases (again, an adaptable platform). The ability to link to and from existing internal systems is a very powerful feature, offering deep integration between the customer and Prospector.
- Customers often struggled with information management and dissemination. Prospector offers a platform to support those needs and reduce associated resources and costs.
- All customers wanted to be assured that their data could only be viewed by members of their organization. Prospector provides that security. Furthermore, linked documentation and internal systems remain as a secured part of the customer’s network (IT remains in control).
- More recently, we have heard about needs related to teams within the customer's organization (shared projects, material-lists, documentation, and queries, as well as related communication/alerting).
As our customer base grew, we learned how to turn these themes into a product and how we could efficiently help a customer begin using that product.
What plans do you have for Prospector Enterprise’s future?
Prospector Enterprise was born from the plastics industry, but we are very excited to roll it out to customers in the chemicals and foods industries in 2016. With that rollout will come new “Teams” functionality which will also become available for customers in the plastics industry. The needs are universal and the solution is very flexible. Just like with plastics, we will learn about needs in the chemicals and foods industries that will guide our product development.
As Visser has shared, combining all materials performance, procurement and regulatory data into an easy-to-use system can revolutionize the way companies innovate. Whether you’re most concerned about revving up your speed-to-market, helping diverse departments collaborate more efficiently or improving your compliance knowledge early in the process, Prospector Enterprise can help.
Want to Learn More?
Find out how you can bridge innovation gaps with Prospector Enterprise. Attend a FREE WEBINAR on Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 11:00 AM EDT
The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL, ULProspector.com or Knowledge.ULProspector.com. While the editors of this site make every effort to verify the accuracy of its content, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from Prospector.