Breaking Down the Barriers to Product Innovation

Connecting Product Information and Teams Is Vital to Success in NPD and NPI

3 Shifts in Business That Matter to Product Development

  1. Greater Complexity and Regulations Increase Need for Multidisciplinary Cooperation
  2. The Changing World of NPD and NPI Means More People on the Team
  3. Connected Devices Create Challenges Along With Opportunities

Shift 1: Greater Complexity and Regulations Increase Need for Multidisciplinary Cooperation

High-tech electronics product complexity continues to grow as innovators add new features to fend off global competitors and participate in increasingly segmented market niches. Technology and medical products are leveraging Moore’s Law coupled with advancements in areas such as sensors, lasers, and displays to add features and functions at a rapid pace. All kinds of products, like Wi-Fi enabled teakettles and Bluetooth door locks, incorporate an increasing amount of electronic and software components.

Mechanical, electrical, and software engineering teams to collaborateSoftware now constitutes a significant amount of the development effort for most electronics product companies and plays an expanding role in many other industries. It is critical for mechanical, electrical, and software engineering teams to collaborate more effectively during early NPD to eliminate quality and functionality issues during NPI. As a case in point, the design of a cell phone enclosure must be closely coordinated with the antenna design to achieve wireless coverage requirements while also meeting electromagnetic emissions regulations. Furthermore, ensuring designs can be consistently built to specifications requires paying closer attention to design for manufacturability (DFM) practices.

Medical device electronics manufacturers face even more NPDI (NPD and NPI) challenges due to growing global regulatory and legal compliance burdens. The European Union (EU) recently adopted two new regulations that will force medical device manufacturers to provide substantially more clinical evidence to support claims of safety and performance. And, of course, the EU is just one of an increasing number of issuers of standards and regulations.

Other regulations and directives come from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), CSA Group, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive), and Conflict Minerals. Today, managing product development processes while maintaining compliant systems and processes requires greater visibility and sharing of information throughout the product release process than ever before.

Shift 2: The Changing World of NPD and NPI Means More People on the Team

NPD and NPI are sometimes used interchangeably, but they address two different points in the product realization process. NPD focuses on concept generation, the engineering and design process, and commercialization of the new product. NPI begins around the end of the development process and continues through product launch. The later NPI stages require more collaboration with globally dispersed teams to effectively plan, procure, manufacture, and ship products to market. NPD and NPI are complementary processes that overlap and together span the entire concept-to-launch process. With this connected nature of NPD and NPI, we can also refer to these two processes together as new product development and introduction (NPDI).

NPD NPI Concept Development Launch

Overlapping NPD and NPI processes require global product teams to collaborate to deliver high-quality products to market fast.

Thirty years ago, NPD was largely a one-company affair with in-house engineers designing the product and handing off to internal manufacturing resources. Today, the norm for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) involves internal engineering teams around the globe—such as a hardware group in Sunnyvale and a software group in Bangalore—and often includes external design partners.

High-tech consumer electronics and medical device OEMs and ODMs design complex products; thus, they increasingly rely on outsourcing of production to global contract manufacturers (CMs) and additional first- and sub-tier suppliers. The most common approach is to select best-of-breed CMs in various specialties such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), printed circuit boards (PCBs), injection molding, castings, and final assembly. With so many CMs and suppliers, the need to act as a single virtual company is crucial to successfully introducing high-quality products.

Shift 3: Connected Devices Create Challenges Along With Opportunities

: Connected Devices Create ChallengesIn addition to navigating regulatory and legal compliance, today’s product companies may also need to consider how their products integrate with the Internet of Things (IoT). Many consumer and industrial products are already equipped with wireless technologies (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) that serve as a gateway to the Internet of Things (IoT) and make it possible to add new capabilities, including automatically collecting information from products in the field at minimal cost. This field performance data offers the potential to identify design and quality weaknesses and understand customer usage patterns.

IoT-connected devices are generating vast amounts of data used to provide breakthrough functionality, understand the customer experience, track products up and down the supply chain, and help improve product functionality and customer support. NPDI teams are tasked with taking full advantage of this data, while also protecting the privacy of customer information. With this new IoT paradigm, multidisciplinary design and development teams must ensure the seamless operation between one or more ecosystems like Amazon Echo or Google Home devices with voice recognition.