The recently released Thomson Reuters 2014 State of Innovation highlights the trend among companies in developing innovative, proprietary technology as a key to retaining a competitive edge. In its analysis, Thomson Reuters identified patent filing as a leading indicator of growing innovation across nearly all business sectors studied. Of these areas, the greatest year-over-year innovation is within the aerospace industry as structures & systems dramatically increased patents by 192% year-over-year.
A recent Forbes article illustrates the possibilities for the future of innovation and commercialization of the Internet of Things as it relates to the aerospace industry. One example is Italian airline Alitalia, which recently partnered with GE’s Flight Efficiency Services to track flight data with the goal of reducing fuel costs while shortening travel time and increasing efficiency. With the application of data tracking engine components and reporting and analyzing daily fuel usage, Alitalia was able to identify a 1.5% saving in fuel costs in the first year, saving $46 million to date.
The dramatic increase in technology investments in structures and systems noted by Thomson Reuters is wholly related to providing both a reduction in cost and an increase in efficiency. As systems become more complex, tools that drive these strategic goals are imperative to competitive success. By harnessing big data, as Alitalia has, the company is realizing financial value in analytics. As the Aerospace industry moves towards implementing the Internet of Things and as executive drivers continue to focus on cost reduction and improving technologies, we should expect to see increases in the number of patents in Aerospace structures and systems.