Many companies constantly struggle to find cost-effective solutions to satisfy the diverse demands of their customers. In this paper, we report on two recent industry-focused conferences that emphasized platform design, development, and deployment as a means to increase variety, shorten lead-times, and reduce development and production costs. The first conference, Platform Management for Continued Growth, was held November–December 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia, and the second, 2005 Innovations in Product Development Conference — Product Families and Platforms: From Strategic Innovation to Implementation, was held in November 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The two conferences featured presentations from academia and more than 20 companies who shared their successes and frustrations with platform design and deployment, platform-based product development, and product family planning. Our intent is to provide a summary of the common themes that we observed in these two conferences. Based on this discussion, we extrapolate upon industry’s needs in platform design, development, and deployment to stimulate and catalyze future work in this important area of research.

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