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Smart Product and IoT Manufacturing Require New Realization Processes, Best Practices

The digital revolution has touched every aspect of business, and manufacturing is no exception. Consider the plethora of “smart” and connected products on the market – cars and appliances are perfect examples ­– and then consider the dual-track product development that must happen to bring these smart products to market. Each part of the realization process, both for the physical product itself and its multiple IoT features, has its own deadlines, checkpoints and deliverables.

Given the separate development tracks of physical goods, software, and hardware, smart products require even smarter processes. Gaps in alignment – between business units, third parties and the executive suite – can put companies at a competitive disadvantage. Missed deadlines, launch delays and recalls can mean the difference between a profitable product and a costly dud.

Imagine a smart product realization process that allows physical product and software development teams to work side-by-side with different work styles and methodologies. Aligning feature and product development can bridge the divide between strategy and execution when creating complex, intelligent products.

An innovation governance framework that brings together the worlds of software development and physical product development has multiple benefits for smart product manufacturers.

Improve business outcomes

A well-thought-out and established smart product realization process can help companies meet and exceed revenue expectations and margins by understanding the true costs of product development, tying together regions, market segments, needs, and feature realization to execute efficiently on new product plans.

Increase speed and predictability

Competition never takes a break, and your smart product development can't afford to miss a beat. This requires cross-functional agreement on investments while coordinating software, engineering, manufacturing and supplier inputs to the process. Having the right operational strategies in place can help companies align smart product innovations to corporate strategy and prioritize the smart products that fit resource and market realities.

Respond sooner to the impacts of changes and delays

Smart products are complex, but the processes to create them don't need to be complicated. Success depends on bringing smart products to market on time; delivery and launch delays can increase costs, disrupt distribution, miss market opportunities, and tarnish a company's reputation.

Staying vigilant about delays and product changes that impact launch timing can mean the difference between market success and failure. It's essential for companies to manage deadlines using dynamic, data-driven, and actionable product and feature reports that provide the necessary visibility to manage change effectively.

Align teams with business objective and strategies

Innovation excellence is only possible when there is clear alignment of both business and product strategies, as well as the development work necessary to bring smart products to market.

This alignment involves carrying the corporate vision downstream to the operational level, while enabling teams to use differentiated methodologies and tools. Software teams are accustomed to using an agile approach to product development, in contrast to physical product teams that require a more governance-based agenda. The right process can allow for a best-in-breed approach to smart product development instead of forcing teams to implement a one-size-fits-all solution for innovation.

Bringing the physical and digital worlds together can facilitate a more connected, integrated, collaborative, and flexible manufacturing value chain. The world's consumers are demanding smarter, more integrated and connected products. The world's manufacturers must be prepared to deliver them efficiently and profitably. The right process and approach can make it easier.

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