Meeting customer needs has always been at the forefront of product driven enterprises, yet discovering those needs, or properly capturing the data that underlies them, has often proved easier said than done.
How will you deliver new customer experiences? Will they be relevant? How do we get feedback? The key lies in more than just clever or well-designed products; the first step to accelerating innovation is building in connectivity.
Real-time, ongoing feedback can provide direct insights that influence both engineering and design. Insights into market trends or feature roadmaps have the ability to monitor human interactions and other devices within the ecosystem. The data generated delivers a more complete picture than antiquated focus groups. Just imagine products that provide data-driven insights by design rather than as an afterthought. Imagine having data that monitors usage, interaction, and performance to help uncover latent requirements that customers did not know existed.
With heightened connectivity, products of today can be monitored and evolve with the user, extending the product lifecycle, and delivering new experiences and benefits. While the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for many years, most of the information gathered by IoT devices focuses on predictive and preemptive maintenance. This is for good reason since we all want jet engines, elevators, and washing machines to work without interruption.
However, what happens when you use IoT for more than just observation? What happens when connectivity is designed within the product?
As the number of connected devices and sensors grows by orders of magnitude, the value of their data, and the ability to process that data will be key drivers of innovation cycles.
When connectivity is leveraged with the high-performance computing power of the cloud, physical goods now have many advantages that were once the purview of digital goods, in particular, a rapidly shrinking time to market. Similar to the world of software, where applications can be deployed within days, if not hours, hardware is quickly gaining the ability to slash development time and reach the intended market quicker.
The testing process was once long and painstaking. Engineers had to build models and prototypes to test the performance of components against the required specifications, make adjustments, and then repeat the cycle until they got it right. Today, we have moved far beyond the days of clay models and wind tunnels, or on-premises mainframes.
Freed of the restrictive costs associated with physical testing, product development has greater opportunities to make more creative—even remarkable—designs a reality.
Engineers and designers are often guided by “best practices,” building upon years of previously shared experience, helping to reduce time to market by using proven designs. What if those constraints were no longer applied? With cloud-based high-performance computing, the previously infeasible can become commonplace in the innovation process.
High-performance computing is also making other innovation strategies possible, enabling both collaboration and a better holistic approach to product lifecycle management through a process known as “digital twin.” Originally pioneered by NASA, digital twin has become more widely available due to advances in cloud technology, augmented reality, and cloud based IoT platforms. These tools are enabling the creation of comprehensive digital models and spatially aware solutions that can be applied to a physical environment.
All of these developments mean that products go to market faster and continue to evolve and deliver value to both the manufacturer and the owner. The powerful combination of connected products and advanced analytics is used to view every device’s state—in real-time. The pairing of physical and digital can also be used for preventative maintenance and optimization, or to develop new product and service offerings for the future.
“10 Consumer Trends That Will Spark Innovation In 2020,” Sara Deshpande, Forbes 2020
“Growing opportunities in the Internet of Things,” Fredrik Dahlqvist, et al, McKinsey 2019
“Collaboration Is the New Innovation,” Pravinkumar Bhandari, Entrepeneur 2019