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Eliminate Barriers to Innovation Part I

Complex Products and Regulatory Compliance Challenges

Over the last few years, consumer electronics companies have quickened the pace of innovation to provide customers with better products. Distributed teams and global supply chains are the norm. Everyone is racing to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect people, data, and devices in a variety of settings. And, if more complex products and supply chains weren’t enough, ever-increasing environmental, safety, and regulatory requirements must be followed to compete in the global marketplace.

With this backdrop, it is critical to keep product development and manufacturing teams on the same page as you design, test, and introduce products faster and under budget.

This blog series will explore how today’s innovators can streamline new product development (NPD) and new product introduction (NPI) or the entire end-to-end NPDI process. We’ll cover how you can connect your entire new product team throughout the product realization process with a centralized product record for a single source of truth. But first, let’s look at the key challenges product companies face today.

Greater complexity and regulations   

IoT functionality is driving greater complexity in the design and manufacturing of medical devices, high tech and consumer electronics products. Technological advancements require software, sensors, and networks to support smart cars, homes, and voice-controlled personal assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

This level of complexity makes it tougher to put reliable products into the hands of your customers. To introduce high-quality products, mechanical, electrical, and software engineering teams must collaborate early and often to eliminate quality and functionality issues throughout the entire NPDI process.

Aside from greater product complexity, evolving environmental (e.g., RoHS, REACH, conflict minerals), safety (e.g., UL), and regulatory compliance (e.g., FDA, ISO) standards are creating new hurdles to deliver products to market on time and under budget.  

Expansion of globally distributed NPD and NPI teams

Are NPD and NPI really different? Often, NPD and NPI are confused or used interchangeably—but they really address two different points in the product realization process. NPD focuses on early design and development, while NPI picks up as you move into the commercialization stage and continues through shipment of products to market.

Thirty years ago, NPD was mostly a one-company affair with in-house engineers designing products and handing them off to internal manufacturing resources. Today, most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) leverage distributed engineering teams around the globe—such as a hardware group in Sunnyvale and a software group in Bangalore—often including external design partners.

Distributed internal teams and external supply chains run greater risks of significant communication failures that can stall production, create product recalls, and introduce customer safety issues. 

Growth and evolution of connected smart devices

In addition to navigating a myriad of agency regulations and quality standards, today’s production companies must ensure electronics, sensors, and software components work together seamlessly.

Based on global projections, the IoT market is expected to reach $8.9 trillion by 2020. [i] Today’s product innovators will continue to increase IoT development and capabilities to meet insatiable demands to connect anytime and anywhere. In addition to consumer-driven demands, manufacturing companies and partners will strive to leverage IoT in new ways to track, analyze, and improve equipment performance and customer satisfaction.

IoT enabled solutions will help companies find new ways for consumers to access helpful information. However, the IoT movement is relatively young with many challenges ahead as immense security protocols and standards evolve to protect consumer information, and as IT is forced to manage terabytes or even petabytes of data across multiple systems and platforms.     

Throughout this series, we will discuss how to address these challenges through more intelligent bill of materials (BOM) management, connected quality management, and streamlined collaboration with distributed teams during the product lifecycle. We will also explore best practices for NPDI processes that ensure quality and regulatory compliance.   

If you’d like a look at all of these best practices now, check out our white paper: Breaking Down the Barriers to Product Innovation.