Products are becoming more and more complicated—and manufacturers are having a harder time keeping up. 92% of manufacturers have reported that their products have become more complex over the last half-decade. This complexity isn’t limited to incorporating the software and circuitry that comprise the IoT—even purely mechanical designs have become more intricate.
Most hard goods manufacturers are embracing the digital transformation by focusing on their factory floor operations. They are spending millions and, on occasion, billions of dollars on upgrading equipment and streamlining processes. Often though, very little attention is given to the front-end of manufacturing. Why do manufacturers fail to extend their digital transformation to the early product definition, planning, and design stage?
Within the manufacturing world, product planning teams are chartered to define new products to meet customer and market needs. These products are often made up of countless individual feature sets, packages, and options, adding to the complexity of products. There is a strong need for decision analytics to help inform decisions, reduce complexity, and increase speed to market.
One of the biggest challenges product planners and manufacturers face is hitting the production schedule. You have to be careful that you don’t rush product launch and end up with a misaligned product, or miss fulfilling customer needs or market opportunities. The goal is to optimize around production and equipment efficiencies. And although changes are inevitable during production, having the tools to quickly react and resolve them is critical.
Product Planners have to be obsessed with the development of their products.
What do consumers really need? What features are essential? What will resonate with the market?
It can be a little too easy to aggressively pursue product development in a way that drives a misalignment between expectation and reality in the customer's experience. Of course, product planners want to create the perfect product, but even an ideal model can produce a negative customer experience if you don’t plan ahead.
In the wake of COVID-19, companies like Dyson are trying to help the situation by retooling manufacturing to produce vital medical equipment and supplies. Companies like Medtronic are responding in-kind by releasing ventilator design specifications for free use.
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