Top 5 Tips to Transform Product Design for Smarter Products

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Cloud / September 11, 2018

The Journey Toward New Development Approaches

The emergence of smart, connected technologies is enabling unprecedented innovation. We have public trash cans that let trash collectors know when they need to be emptied. Pill bottles that remind you to take your medication. Complex machinery that notifies you when it needs servicing. The opportunities and growth potential seem limitless.


Technology has become so critical, that 52% of companies developing smart products fear losing market share unless they continually make products smarter. On top of that, 47% worry about reduced revenue. With this in mind, we can expect to see a continual increase in the amount of software and electronics in products. Even 25% of companies that have not already made their products smarter, plan to add software and electronics over the next five years. To successfully take advantage of the opportunity and transform products into intelligent systems, companies should embark on a journey to perfect development processes and manage the additional complexity. This eBook   and article below outlines steps to make your journey to transform your products a success.


You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

While emerging technologies open doors for innovation and opportunity, they introduce new challenges. However, as you start your journey, it is hard to know what you don’t know. Learning from the experiences of others to minimize or avoid common challenges should be the first step. Even if you have already started your journey, knowing where to focus your energy for improvement can minimize risk. Based on the experiences of over 180 manufacturers, the top six challenges of making smarter products are:

  1. Products become much more complex
  2. Knowledge silos/lack of cross-functional knowledge
  3. Ensuring product requirements are met
  4. Lack of visibility into the impact of design decisions across disciplines
  5. Tools are incompatible across engineering disciplines
  6. Identifying system-level problems sooner

These challenges create barriers during your journey to improve your development process. Overcoming them requires putting the right processes and technology in place.

Collaboration is Critical

Many of the challenges of developing smarter products lead to poor collaboration, which creates even more problems. An overwhelming 89% report they have issues due to poor collaboration. Developing smarter products requires multiple engineering disciplines requiring mechanical, electrical, and electronic software. When you add connectivity, you expand the ecosystem, increasing the number of people required to successfully develop products. By improving collaboration, you can tap into the collective expertise of the entire team to truly innovate and bring very competitive products to market. Survey results show failing to solve these challenges costs the business in many ways, including:

  • Higher cost
  • Late to market
  • Missed customer expectations
  • Lost revenue opportunities
  • Poor quality

The good news is that by adopting best practices, you can overcome these challenges and avoid the associated costs.


We have entered the age of smart products with many opportunities for innovation, especially with the new innovation of CAD in the Cloud. While this opens exciting possibilities, it also adds significant complexity which introduces a new set of challenges. With growing pressure to increase the amount of software and electronics in products, these challenges will only get harder. Just improving collaboration across engineering disciplines can solve many of these challenges. Forward-thinking companies who put solutions in place now to solve these problems will find themselves in an excellent position for the future, especially if they have plans to make connected products using the IoT. As you start or continue your journey to transform products into smart, connected systems, you do not know what you don’t know. However, you can learn much from those who have successfully embarked on the journey. In particular:

  1. Refine your strategy for IoT
  2. Consider how IoT transforms your business model
  3. Extend the product ecosystem
  4. Determine the data collection strategy
  5. Select the right software tools

These steps will support you on your journey for successful smart, connected products like SOLIDWORKS Cloud.