Smart devices and connected products, like the Apple Watch, raise an interesting question, what are the implications of transforming traditional products into smart connected products?

Now that we have sensors, connectivity, big data, and analytics, customers and businesses are leveraging this value to create new opportunities – here’s how.

Remote Operations

Connected products can share their data with their users, and likewise with the manufacturer, unlocking new service opportunities.

For example, I have the Nest thermostat in my house. I can adjust the temperature on my way home from work just but using a simple app control.

For a Minnesotan like me, this is pretty awesome when you experience winters like we have.

Remote Services

From a company perspective, remote access services are very valuable as well.

For example, just like a smart thermostat, manufacturers can automatically send updates to assets. Or if maintenance is required, technicians can often save time and money by remotely connecting to devices to ensure software and hardware are performing effectively. This can avoid unnecessary service calls.

Innovative Product Designs

Another great use case is how companies can change their product design strategies.

For example, IoT enables a new design strategy known as evergreen design. The premise is that when products are operating in the field, new software features can be built and delivered to a device to extend functionality and the usable life of a product. The Tesla car illustrates this concept well. Tesla actually used an evergreen design strategy to avoid a major recall.

A few years back, there were several instances in which the battery cell of the car actually rubbed against street curbs as the car turned corners, causing fires. Instead of sending all the Tesla cars back to the dealer, or a mechanic shop, the company sent a software update that automatically raised the clearance of the car chassis where the battery was located.

Tesla’s evergreen design saved the company money, as well as customer time, and money associated with a traditional recall.

Big Data Analytics

Another big game-changer in business is the value to be had from big data. Now that products can share information throughout their product development cycle and useful life, there is, in essence, a stream of data that we can collect, analyze, and use to inform all sorts of business decisions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know when the average daily usage of your products or product segments is in decline or incline? It could drive new product innovation timelines, customer success strategies, and new revenue from cross-sell and up-sell.

Data Collection & Analysis of Consumer behavior

The practice of using big data is not new. For example, in the retail market, companies are using purchasing behavior data to inform their business decisions.

What they found was surprising. A few days prior to the forecasted hurricane, people bought a significant amount of pop-tarts. In particular, strawberry pop-tarts. On the day of the hurricane, they bought more beer. Based on this data, Walmart adjusted their stock supply in anticipation of the new demand. This use case is unique in that data was originating from people’s shopping behaviors. What is different now is that we can collect and analyze data from products as well.

Remote Monitoring

Take the case of smart sports equipment. A friend I play golf with had a sensor attachment that told her about her swing, ball placement, and field location. So, as we were playing throughout the day, she was pulling out her golf app, observing her golf swing, and adjusting performance based on that data. This is great for the user, and there are also added benefits for the manufacturing company!

For example, the tennis racket company Babolat has sensors attached to their play pure drive product, which collects data about a player’s swing, the speed of their ball, and impact location.

Product to service transformation

Babolat also provides a training service, where based on the player’s performance, Babolat will provide consulting, hitting tips, and other development programs. In this use case, big data is transforming a traditionally hardware-oriented company into a service company as well.

This brings me to my last example, which illustrates a radical change in how businesses perceive product value.

Product-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Namely, products are now carriers for potentially limitless services based on how you creatively leverage their smart and connected elements. This concept is not new.

Products-as-a-Service have been pioneered in the aerospace industry.

For example, Rolls Royce licenses out their engines to airline customers, and they charge airlines for the millage of the planes as well as services associated with repair, and maintenance.

This is generally known as power by the hour. This product as a service concept is gaining a lot of attention in the IoT market.

For example, there is a big software battle for ownership of the car segment. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the original car makers are attempting to get a slice of the services associated with cars, such as navigation, entertainment, and safety systems. This new service focus is really interesting for product development and associated business operations.

Bottomline – products are carriers of tremendous value. Now that we have sensors, connectivity, big data, and analytics, customers and businesses can leverage this value, and create new opportunities.

IoT Intro Class

At EAC, we want to make sure you don’t miss out on any revolution with respect to potential capabilities that you can add to your products- while we also realize the importance of basing your IoT initiatives around your mission statement. That’s why we created what we call our IoT Development Workshop.

We have made it our mission to help guide organizations like yours to explore and embrace the uncertainty of the emerging IoT market.

Communicating product data across an organization is complex. Let’s talk about how to make it easier.

Different departments gather product data from a variety of systems including Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Manufacturing Execution systems (MES), and Quality Management Systems (QMS) and more, how do we know our organizations are making the most out of all this information?

Just think about it for a second. Our systems speak different languages, AND our departments often aim for different goals. 

With an estimated 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years alone (Conner, n.d.), it’s no wonder that companies are having a hard time using it all.  The IDC estimates that just 0.5% of the data companies produce is ever used. It’s time to change that.

Here are 9 Ways Your Business Will Benefit From Connecting Your Data systems.

1. Increased Usability 

Data experts believe that if Fortune 1,000 companies increased the amount of data they used by just 10%, they could realize over $65 million in additional net income (Marr, 2015). Not only are these numbers huge, they also help make my case about the critical importance of data usability.

The truth is – any one specialized system is often too complex for many non-specialized roles to navigate, find, and transfer the right information. This often leaves separate departments accountable for storing and sharing uncontrolled, out of date versions of product data. It’s not because they don’t WANT to use the right information. It’s because system complexity and interdepartmental gates make it hard to consistently get the right information. 

So how do we make product data more usable?

A) Consolidating product data from disparate sources into one single system.
B) Give users a way to access the system using simplified role-specific dashboards.

2. Better Data Access

The most important reason your product data shouldn’t (internally anyway) be kept secret is because product data is your company’s most valuable asset.

Not everyone who needs access to specific product information hosted in your PLM system is from your engineering department, so don’t force them to go through the same vigorous Product Lifecycle system training. Don’t make them navigate an engineer’s world one click at a time.

In order to effectively use data, our departments must have ready access to it. We must make rich product information easy to accessible for a broad set of roles.

By creating an organized system that connects all of our product data, your organization will make information easily accessible to users beyond those who have created it.

Just think of the possibilities that come from connecting multiple systems and delivering information to all departments through a single window.

3. Complete Data

Imagine an entire enterprise with access to real data, at the right time, when it’s needed.

By connecting your product lifecycle management systems with your other enterprise systems, every stakeholder within your organization can impact the value flow of product data through your organization. It also equips team members to consistently drive critical decisions with the latest, most accurate information.

4. Better Insights

Better access to data = Better insights. 

Your business teams can and should demand a lot of your PLM processes and solution.

This is one of the reasons why your organization should consider integration technologies and custom front-end solutions – Such as PLM applications. 

A data-driven enterprise with insights into how current products and processes can be optimized can drastically improve productivity. Doing this requires teams to have access to up-to-date, accurate product data.

5. Better Decisions

Ready access to information is especially important to any company developing products.  

Users without access to the system of record resort to error-prone workarounds that can result in inaccuracies, quality problems, and waste.

Decisions made from out- of- date inaccurate data threaten product quality and delay time to market.

Providing everyone in your organization with broad visibility into the system of record will drive better, more accurate decisions. This will ultimately improve quality, reduce waste, scrap, rework, and help you meet your time to market goals.

The analytical possibilities that come with connecting your data will help users across your organization make accurate product decisions throughout the entire development process.

6. Better Products

Who doesn’t want to create better products faster?

Providing your organization with universal data access will allow your company to drastically accelerate product development.

How so?

By connecting disparate systems, you will have access to real-time data allowing you to make better product decisions.

Because your decisions and actions are now driven by up-to-date information, you will achieve a higher product quality.

7. Increased Productivity

Why waste time manually reading, entering and analyzing data? It could be automatically collected, filtered, and combined.

By collecting your product data in one system and providing a simplified role-based interface, any user within your organization can access contextual, up-to-date, real-time product information anytime they need. 

I guarantee your productivity will grow when your organization is able to plan earlier with manufacturing, order materials sooner with purchasing all while your engineering team is spending less time pulling reports.

8. Increased collaboration

Using a system that provides role-based data access to stakeholders throughout your organization provides every role with an ability to quickly understand the status of a part number and how the parts fit together in a design.

This will not only help mobilize and inform the work of teams throughout the organization, but it will also help maximize the success of your product development.

Giving your team the ability to extend and connect your PLM data into the rest of your enterprise will rapidly increase the overall effectiveness of your organization.

9.  Real Results

The ultimate benefit your organization will achieve by connecting your data systems stems from your ability to acquire real results. 

What does that mean?

Positive results have a tendency to snowball into more and more success. Results give your organization the confidence it needs to quickly deliver value. Providing access to the right information empowers a team, department, company to reach their true potential.

We want to help your company thrive. Our EAC Productivity Apps give your organization a way to connect disparate enterprise systems and easily deliver role-based dashboards to increase user confidence and productivity.