IoT (Internet of Things) is going to be part of your customer's future, and better be part of your product portfolio. However, incorporating IoT is hard and done wrong can destroy your brand and worse yet your business.
If you have heard about IoT (Internet of Things) and know of the massive investments Fortune 500 companies are making in it, you should understand that it is going to be part of your customers future, and better be part of your product portfolio.
However, here is the challenge. Doing this is hard and done wrong can destroy your brand and worse yet your business. So listen up. Take as an example a business that prides itself on its mechanical precision and prowess. This company may find electronics a distraction and potentially incompatible with their culture, quality controls, processes and business model. In other words, those things that make you successful, your brand in the marketplace could become your biggest impediment to being successful if you are not strategic in how you approach this.
Sounds scary, doesn't it? Well if you are scared then listen carefully. If your numb, bored, indifferent or dismissive, you will lose. It is just a matter of time. My intention in this article is to set the stage; grab your attention to the situation. If you are in an industry that manufactures products which didn't require intelligence in the past, you likely see the beginnings of transformative change. You see it at trade shows, in periodicals, patent disclosures, on store shelves or heaven help you at your customer's facility.
So what do you do? How do you safely and successfully incorporate smart electronics into your product portfolio? What are the common pitfalls and mistakes companies make? How do I know that the 'timing' is right, and my organization is ready? Let me count the ways! Consider the posts to come as a guide on how to do this successfully, and avoid the common pitfalls and missteps that we see companies with the best of intentions take. Here are just a couple of brief snippets on what future posts will cover.
- Don't assume your new Electrical Engineer can write production grade software. This assumption is such a common problem. I partially blame this on the lack of an emphasis on Firmware (also referred to as Embedded Software) in Academia. Electrical Engineers are 'not' Firmware Engineers. Don't disrespect the discipline of software programming (i.e. Computer Science) by assigning your shiny new EE the job of writing the code that makes your product intelligent. You are likely to see the costs soon after you launch. Life-cycle costs will not only suck away your design team and shut down production but cause havoc to your quality brand.
- Adapt your culture to embrace electronics. There is pride in excellent mechanical systems. In all the engineering fields, done right are art and craftsmanship. However, designing, manufacturing and producing a primarily mechanical system is very different from one with electronics and especially ones with intelligent computer controlled electronics.
Here is an example warning sign you have not embraced computer controlled electronics into your culture.
- Your engineering management organization is made up of solely of mechanical engineers. There is a 'sibling rivalry' that exists between engineering disciplines. If you have been homogeneous for years, all chemical or mechanical engineers for example, and don't adjust your culture to be inclusive of those other engineering disciplines, you will have a seriously difficult time not only making good decisions but hiring and retaining top talent.
So now I hope I have captured your sense of urgency! These two items are a minimal subset of the things you need to consider if you are going to win this battle. More to come and thanks for reading!
About the author:
Bob Scaccia is President and CEO USA Firmware.