Years ago, I was the in-house Creo Parametric support person in charge of process development, training, and user support for Amazon’s Lab126 division. If you’ve never heard of Lab126, it is the Silicon Valley-based hardware division, responsible for designing tablets, readers, Fire TV, and Amazon Echo.
Amazon prides itself on being a data-driven company, and this can be seen in its success from its flagship website to Amazon Web Services (the cloud), to its electronics products. (The Echo is almost everywhere these days and “Alexa” has become part of our cultural lexicon.)
Why is being data driven so critical to success? Because harnessing data-- specifically, data about your products and how your customers use them - provides you with product insights. And computer-aided design (CAD) software can help you with this.
Product insights tell us how our products are being used and more importantly how we can make them better. Product insights get to the truth about our customers.
Software- and internet-based companies have traditionally had an advantage in harvesting these insights over companies that make physical products. Software and apps can send in-depth usage reports back to the home company via internet and cloud solutions. Physical and hardware products didn’t have those capabilities - at least, not until the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT).
In the past, once a physical product left the factory, product development organizations had no direct knowledge of how the product was being used. To gain product insights, companies solicited information from customers in the forms of surveys, interviews, questionnaires, service reports, and so on, hoping the responses truly represented their audience. This approach obviously has flaws and limitations.
With the advent of smart, connected products, devices can now provide the information directly to us. (Amazon discovered this secret years ago; virtually every product from Lab126 from Day One has been smart and connected.)
How do we use CAD to gain better product insights fast? There are essentially two ways, and they are related:
Including these electronics as part of our design pays off. They help us quickly see:
Product insights allow design engineers to respond to the needs of the customer faster, allowing us to change or pivot as necessary to increase customer satisfaction and market share. CAD can help us achieve this.