Common Challenges in Connected Product Design & Development

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When making products “smart” and connected, most organizations underestimate the work involved, and they encounter seemingly insurmountable hurdles at different phases of the product design and development process. We’ve repeatedly seen our clients struggle with challenges like the ones below before reorienting their approach, aligning stakeholders, and accelerating product development.

Rising Project Costs & Missed Deadlines

When costs start to rise and deadlines start to get missed, you’re likely experiencing one of the first signs that your product development project is starting to fall off the rails. Creating fully integrated experiences with your connected product is incredibly complex work. It requires diverse skillsets, alignment across teams, conscientious project management to create and adhere to a product development roadmap, and much more.

Rising budgets and missed deadlines are symptoms of underlying problems that you, your team, and your vendors may be facing. Most of the time, companies don’t need a bigger budget to build a smart product; instead, the project stalls as teams discover that there are more steps involved in successfully creating a connected product. And for some of those crucial components of the smart product development process, your team may not have the necessary skills to fully execute the product design, development, and launch.

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A Fundamental Skills Gap

One of the reasons product development timelines and budgets are so often underestimated is that businesses don’t know what they don’t know. As your team works through the smart product design process, they will likely encounter unforeseen skill and knowledge gaps. Overcoming this challenge typically requires professional development, hiring new talent, or contracting with an outside vendor for those specific needs.

Successful connected product development requires experts in:

  • Program and Product Management
  • Scrum Master
  • Hardware Design
  • Firmware Development
  • Industrial Design
  • Mobile and Voice Development
  • Cloud Architecture
  • Data Analytics
  • DevOps
  • And More

Unfortunately, niche vendors for these types of services can only deliver part of the puzzle. They’ll provide you with what you ask for—but that isn’t always what you need. Niche vendors may also lack a wider understanding of the project as a whole, how it fits into your business model, or even your industry.

This is one reason why so many product and medical device manufacturers work with Vervint. Our deep expertise aligns across every step of connected product development, from ideation and market research all the way through support and end-of-life product management. Plus, our SAFe methodology keeps teams organized, efficient, and working toward the same goals.

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Making the Product to Platform Shift

It used to be the case that businesses would create a product, consumers would buy that product, and that was essentially the whole story. But traditional business models and product lifecycles are losing relevance, and they are quickly becoming a liability in the face of shifting consumer expectations about connectivity and digital experiences.

To successfully create smart products, connect with consumers, and remain profitable, there’s more to the story now. You need a platform that connects your products, your consumers, their devices, your teams, and all the data going in every direction. You need to pull meaningful, actionable insights from that data to drive new innovation. And you need to maintain that platform to continue providing a top-tier experience. It needs to be extendable for future product releases, security fixes, and new features.

A connected product isn’t simply a new product that you’re offering. It requires fundamental shifts in your business model, product lifecycles, operations, team composition, and much more.

Failures in Adoption or Commercial Success

In some cases, businesses invest vast amounts of time, energy, and budget to get a connected product developed only to have it fail in some way. The two primary issues that businesses face are related to adoption and commercial success. Consumers aren’t interested in the product, or they don’t keep using it.

Another problem businesses face is one of scale: their platform can’t handle the number of devices that they sell, and they have to go back to the earliest stages of product development to rebuild their foundational architecture on a new platform.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “fail fast,” and there is a kernel of truth in that. Instead of failing fast, though, you should fail early. One of the primary reasons smart products fail is that developers get ahead of themselves. They set off on a journey to see if they can create a connected product, but they skip the crucial first step of asking if they should create a connected product.

At Vervint, we help teams step back to see the bigger picture. We can help you ask the right questions early on so you can move forward in a strategic, intentional way. And our SAFe approach means that we will work alongside your team on lower-risk projects to make meaningful strides forward toward your final goal: getting a viable, functioning connected product to market that consumers are excited about and that solves for a real need that they have.

Connected products fundamentally shift business models. We’ve helped global manufacturers and businesses successfully create and launch dozens of products. At Vervint, we can help you avoid the biggest pitfalls and overcome challenges just like the ones outlined above.

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