How to Reinvent Your Product: 7 Essentials

The product of the future is smart and connected, with the ability to be responsive, adaptive and collaborative.

This is according to Eric Schaeffer and David Sovie, Senior Managing Directors at Accenture and co-authors of their new book, ‘Reinventing the Product: How to transform your business and create value in the digital age’. Below Eric & David talk CEO Today through their 7 essentials in reinventing your brand & product.

These traits constitute the product’s prospective value. Software-driven products with respective services will generate the value propositions of the future based on digital intelligence as the principal driver of market success and differentiation.

Product-making companies can reinvent themselves through building seven capabilities that will help them unlock new value from their existing products and tap the new markets for smart connected products. Furthermore, these capabilities will enable companies not just to develop smart connected products one-off, but also to loop back the resulting usage-based findings into the development of the next and following generations.

New competences – in management, workforce, and the organization of business processes will be essential.

1. Design ‘flexagility’

The first essential capability is ‘flexagility’ in designing the product of the future. Flexagility combines flexibility, the willingness and capability to change, and agility, the speed of change. The implication is of quick, non-linear development workflow with the ability to wipe the slate and think again if an idea, project, product or service does not seem up to the impeccable user experience it is meant to deliver.

2. Agile engineering in the New

Agile engineering is another crucial capability going mainstream in the era of smart connected products. It is needed to continuously inject improvement into digitally and software-driven devices. This is a concept that was developed in the software sector but it is now being adopted more and more by hardware-producing industries. This should come as no surprise given the increasing software orientation of hardware we have already described. Product users increasingly demand permanent innovation and maximum adaptability from their devices for the sake of user-friendliness.

Against this backdrop, hardware manufacturers can no longer afford to bank on inflexible processes that bring, for example, a new car model to market over a timeframe of several years. Instead, constant iterative overhaul of ideas, products and attached services is needed.

3. Data augmentation, leveraging AI

Smart connected products are data-driven and data-producing devices. Your organization must therefore be data-augmented in all its functions. Data should eventually become the main and most valuable currency within all your business processes.

Data is important for understanding the market, the usage of your product and ways to improve the user experience via new services. It will fuel the tools you’ll use such as digital twins and will form the insights along your digital thread. It is – especially when AI-based analytics come into play – the new fuel in the New.

4. ‘As-a-service’ competencies

The shift from selling hardware to a recurring as-a-service model is indeed a very challenging one. Most product companies struggle greatly with it as it requires a fundamental change to their very DNA. Moreover, this requires building a wide array of capabilities that do not exist today.

5. The experiential workforce

A workforce dealing with the creation of smart connected products needs special skills, profiles, mindsets and behaviour. An outcome-oriented talent pool is a prerequisite, because the New is all about the development of devices meant to provide intelligent customer-centric outcomes along the entire product or service lifecycle.

Enable your workforce to think and act along end-to-end experiences and outcomes instead of mere product features and outputs. Executive teams need to be guided by new incentive metrics, shifting from units sold to customer success achieved. An ecosystem and new talent from outside companies, which already sell outcomes, will support this workforce transformation.

6. Ecosystem orchestration

Not all, but some smart connected products will work as platforms. In order to create and run a successful platform it is essential to have the capabilities needed to build and orchestrate ecosystems that support such product-based platforms. These ecosystems must then be capable of identifying potential partners who can contribute crucial technologies, data or service elements to boost the value of the product.

Only such partner ecosystems will fuel breakthrough innovation and disruptive growth opportunities. Operating models built around such multilateral and multidimensional partnerships and open collaborative networks will also create sufficient value to secure survival in the new product world.

7. Pervasive security

Smart products are programmed to perform certain actions that often transcend cyberspace and impact the physical world, meaning safety becomes a major concern. Managing these devices demands the capability to define and manage a broad range of security aspects. Within the ecosystem, cyber security risks must be anticipated and proactively managed, and intellectual property (IP) must be protected.

A central prerequisite for this ecosystem is to partner with the necessary expertise to provide relevant components to the value creation mechanism of smart connected products. Security and IP protection must be thought through in detail at component levels. ‘You should put data security above everything to avoid damage done through attacks to the safety and privacy of customers.

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