Ubiquitous connectivity and low power computing make connected products the predominant design model for most product categories, including toys, fashion, medical devices, industrial machinery, autos, kitchen equipment and many others.

There are many worthy reasons for adopting a connected product design model. The most compelling are the following.

Developing a sticky customer relationship: A non-connected product generally leads toward a transactional customer relationship. A connected product moves the customer toward a long-term relationship – at least through the life of the product and usually beyond – by sharing data and providing more value with the help of cloud services and insights.

Transforming the economic model: Connected product design model allows organizations to move to a performance and outcome based selling and service model.

Continuous improvement even when the product is actively being used: The example of Tesla changing ground clearance to improve safety with an over-the-air software update is an amazing example and possibility of connected products.

Product designers can also obtain extremely valuable usage, performance and fault data from a connected product. Companies can use this information to improve products, understand what is important for customers and design even better products. In addition, actual usage and status information can be used to guide customers toward more optimal maintenance and service protocols to reduce total lifecycle cost.

Connected products require a product design and lifecycle management viewpoint that assumes that products are malleable and can be improved even when they are being actively used, can be reached with customers’ permission and that cloud services are an extension of the product itself. The design strategy then will modularize and parametrize (and add APIs) key capabilities, performance and components of the product so that they can modified/improved with software updates.

Key capabilities of connected products companies

Companies that offer connected products must also be able to:

  • Design, develop, deploy, and operate cloud services that complement and enhance product features and capabilities
  • Develop customer service and relationship management processes that can work directly with and through the connected product
  • Have the capacity to analyze historical performance and fault data to predict likelihood of failure and take appropriate action
  • Adjust maintenance and service recommendation processes to take into consideration the actual use of products
  • Modify existing supply chain and replenishment processes to meet real-time fulfillment needs