Product design processes are about to change in a very big way. With Gartner predicting that over 25 billion Internet-enabled devices will be in service by 2020 – an average of over three for every human being on Earth – the Internet of Things (IoT) represents more than a high-tech curiosity. Rather, it promises an entirely new way of looking at products and how we create them.
IoT-enabled products such as lighting, garage door openers, thermostats, and security systems can already be found in many homes.
Key to the IoT concept is that product information becomes a two-way street, with operational data flowing back and forth between devices and networked systems. Think about the power of Big Data, brought to the level of everyday consumer appliances and applications – and connected directly to your CAD software, sales tools, R&D processes and customer service systems.
How will IoT change how you design products in the future? In many ways.
Operational verification. Your IoT-enabled products will have the power to monitor and report on how well they are functioning, pointing out early any possible problems or design liabilities. This means more regular, consistent and detailed feedback data, all of which will be directly incorporated into your subsequent design generations.
R&D transparency. IoT devices will provide you with a complete profile of how your customers use them, from which features they use most, to behavioral trends that may suggest important new lines for future development. IoT will not only tell you whether your products work, but will also suggest why your customers want them to.
Placing more power in consumer hands. As devices become exponentially smarter, the consumers who rely on them will continue to enjoy greater levels of individual freedom. An empowered consumer is one eager and ready for the next innovation – and looking to you to provide it.
Revolutionizing how we think of products. With virtually everything transformed into a network device, the traditional definition of a “product” is going to change radically, from discrete physical entities to complex technology stacks and larger cultural ideas. The walls between hardware, software, and simple objects will come crashing down. Products will become systems.
Will your product development processes be ready to take advantage of the brave new world of IoT?