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Technology discovery: the bold frontier for Amway research & development

Technology discovery: the bold frontier for Amway research & development

Your next Amway anti-aging cream might be the brainchild of a nutritionist rather than a chemist.

Your next Amway air-filtration system could stem from a microbiologist or a software developer, instead of an engineer.

Some of the Amway™ products that you’ll be buying and selling in the future will be completely new inventions and innovations which, right now, most of us can’t even imagine – because they’ll be conceived through unexpected sources.

Amway is unearthing ideas and bringing them to life through global technology discovery.

“Under this paradigm, our scientists ‘cross-pollinate’ their skills and experience in order to identify and develop new technologies that benefit Amway Business Owners.” – Paul Seehra, Amway director of global technology discovery

“Global technology discovery is both an enterprise strategy and a global organization within Amway that brings together diverse groups of scientists who, in the past, never may have crossed paths,” explained Paul Seehra, Ph.D., director of global technology discovery. “Under this paradigm, our scientists ‘cross-pollinate’ their skills and experience in order to identify and develop new technologies that benefit Amway Business Owners.”

The core global technology discovery team includes Amway scientists from locations in the U.S., Korea, Japan and China. They collaborate to discover, evaluate, prototype and ultimately bring new technologies to market. In addition to each other, they are connected to hundreds of internal Amway scientists and thousands of external scientists and experts in their fields.

The discovery team focuses on delivering high-impact technologies across – and even between – Amway’s major product lines: nutrition, beauty/personal care and home care. Indeed, discovery is happening with increasing frequency in the spaces that bridge traditional Amway categories, such as nutrition supplements that help promote beauty from within, digital tools to assess nutritional and skin health, and home, beauty, and nutrition products that all interact with each other to coach a customer on how to optimize their health. And within these spaces are huge growth opportunities. Subscribing to the Human Centered Design approach and methodology – immersing themselves in people’s lives to notice the interesting things they do and how they do them – Amway discovery scientists and engineers strive to anticipate and forecast needs even before the customer is able to express them.

“For us in discovery, unearthing needs that consumers haven’t yet recognized or expressed requires a level of empathy, sophistication and connection with the customer,” Seehra said. “Ultimately, we’re about delivering exceptional value to previously unstated needs. We’re about leveraging technologies and creating products that will give our business owners a distinct advantage and help them to grow their business.”

“Ultimately, we’re about delivering exceptional value to previously unstated needs. We’re about leveraging technologies and creating products that will give our distributors a distinct advantage and help them to grow their business.” – Paul Seehra

Some team members are searching for bold new areas of focus where Amway can translate technology into compelling new inventions. Eight platform areas have been identified so far. Botanicals is one example; this area of focus spans the nutrition and beauty categories, and will contribute to new products designed to support healthy aging.

Research into microbiomes is another example. Microbiomes are the total collection of microorganisms (bacteria and viruses for example) and their genetic material present in or on an environment, such as the human body.  There are 10 times as many microbes in and on the body than cells, and Amway beauty and nutrition scientists are studying ways helpful microorganisms, like the “good” bacteria that help us digest food, can be used to further benefit human health and wellness.

Other team members look at existing Amway™ products that, in their next iteration, demand bold innovation. An example is Nutrilite™ Protein Powder.

“Protein powder is a technology in which we own the global market share,” Seehra said. “But we want to take a big, bold step forward, beyond just feature and benefit improvements. The team is responsible to our business owners to be on top of that differentiation.”

How does global technology discovery happen?

The process follows a sequence of discovery, development and regulatory/quality control phases:

Discovery: Scientists strategically look for those bold inventions and innovations that will give Amway Business Owners a competitive advantage. Amway scientists in several different disciplines work together in this phase.

Jesse Leverett (pictured, top photo) is a global technology discovery team member. As the senior principal research scientist with the Amway health and beauty group, he sees huge value in collaborating with peers from different disciplines.

“Bringing together a highly diverse group with very different training and technical orientation gives us a huge advantage in resolving difficult challenges,” Leverett said. “Each of us can pull knowledge and experience from the others that complements our own.”

Amway scientists also tap external scientists through the Amway open-innovation process and Amway Scientific Advisory Boards to help find emerging and existing science that might present opportunities to reveal real value to Amway Business Owners and customers, said Leverett,

Amway Business Owners are an important part of discovery as well.

“We have a lot of advantages in being well connected with our business owners,” said Seehra. “They’re so willing to provide honest feedback on what works and doesn’t work. It’s up to us to capture our their feedback, and use it to make even better products.” Amway programs like the Falcon Protocol and The Voice help do that.

Development: When worthy technologies are discovered, “We’re focused on making the product design as awesome as possible in the context of what we know Amway Business Owners need,” Seehra said.

More than 900 Amway scientists, technicians and engineers in 75 laboratories around the globe support the three major product lines. They’re tasked with developing the product formulas, device models and even software applications that ultimately will become Amway™ products.

Regulatory and quality control: Global technology discovery is supported by team members in technical & regulatory affairs and quality control at Amway who ensure new products and technologies meet or exceed local and regional regulatory requirements and high quality standards.

Once a product or technology has successfully passed through these phases, then it’s ready to be market-tested. At this point, Amway marketing teams, selected Amway Business Owners and potentially the Amway Asia Beauty Innovation Center enter the picture to properly brand and test the given product in identified markets.

The Amway Asia Beauty Innovation Center based in Seoul, Korea, plays a role depending on the product and the market. The ABIC, as it’s often referred to, is a rapid innovation and development center that Seehra helped to launch in 2013. The ABIC combines Amway R&D, marketing and supply-chain teams to quickly convert insights and opportunities into regional products.

Now part of global technology discovery, the center’s focus will be expanded to include all Amway product categories. In 2016, its name will change to the Amway Asia Innovation Center.

“We have some of the best scientists and engineers in their technical disciplines in the world,” said Seehra. “We’ve organized to help us to deliver bold differentiation and better personalized experiences – and to see and move faster on incredible opportunities for our business owners.” – Paul Seehra

Meeting of the minds

“When our entire global technology discovery team meets it’s like a meeting of the minds,” Seehra said. “We have rapid-prototyping people talking to beauty people, engineers talking to biochemists, software developers talking to nutritionists.” The diversity of approaches inspires everyone to look at problems and opportunities from completely fresh points of view, and to see things that others “too close to the problem” might not see.

Amway scientists are empowered like never before to collaborate and bring ideas to the prototype stage and, ultimately, to market. In fact, team members are responsible for building a network to ensure they’re making the right decisions on what science and technology is best for the business.

“We have some of the best scientists and engineers in their technical disciplines in the world,” said Seehra. “We’ve organized to help us to deliver bold differentiation and better personalized experiences – and to see and move faster on incredible opportunities for our business owners.”

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