Everyone likes to talk about the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT): How manufacturers will be able to get better feedback from customers to improve the product or how they’ll be able to proactively identify issues before they become full-blown problems. What no one ever talks about though is how to have a digital engineering transformation into a smart, connected organization.
What if the returns aren’t as great as promised? What if the whole thing fails and you end up even more dumb and disconnected than before? However much you might fear upending your product development process, it is absolutely necessary that you do so. By refusing to embrace the change, you risk getting left behind by your competitors.
Zombie Steps to Transformation
The transformation into the IoT era isn’t a sprint for your life from a horde of monsters. It’s a steady, zombie shuffle. By taking measured, meaningful steps towards the goal of smart and connected, you will ensure a strong foundation in the product development process to support all outcomes you hope to achieve.
The first step to take is to understand the data you are already getting from your products and processes. You wouldn’t try to take on a monster without understanding what tools in your arsenal will protect you, would you?
Most organizations have multiple enterprise systems housing important pieces of information that stakeholders throughout the product development process need. However, juggling back and forth between various systems can waste a fair amount of time. By pooling together all product data and information into a consolidated digital product definition, organizations can ensure that all stakeholders are able to quickly access the most up-to-date product information.
A digital product definition can also prove to be great protection against the biggest mistake many organizations are already making: putting their stakeholders in silos.
Stick Together: The One Mistake No One Wants to Make
In every horror movie, whether being chased by a monster or a murderer, the biggest mistake the main characters can make is to split up. The age-old adage, “Safety in numbers” is forgotten and without fail, the members of the group are picked off one by one.
Unfortunately, this tendency to separate tends to happen to stakeholders in the product development process as well. By investing in their own enterprise systems and processes and restricting access for stakeholders across the enterprise, valuable information is being kept from being used to its full potential.
By allowing universal data access to stakeholders throughout the enterprise, organizations can improve collaboration across teams, increase efficiency of stakeholders, and enable them to make better decisions faster.
Frankenstein’s Monster Was Evil and Other Assumptions You Shouldn’t Make
The final piece to understanding your product data is to replace all assumptions you have made about your product with real-world data. We all know you shouldn’t make assumptions. Literature lovers will remember how Dr. Frankenstein assumed his creation was evil when really it just wanted to be loved. Engineers also tend to make assumptions on product requirements during the product design process.
Sensors are becoming cheaper every day and are proving to be a cost-efficient way to collect data from a product in the field. Once collected, this data can be fed back into the design process. By performing this performance-based analysis, you can improve the reliability of the product as well as be able to find problems early on in the product lifecycle.
By taking the steps of building a comprehensive digital product definition, allowing universal data access, and executing performance-based analysis, you can banish any fears you might have about embarking on a digital engineering journey to IoT transformation.