“Speaking” products are coming!

With the price and size of microchips both becoming smaller, it is easier to add chips to manufactured products from everyday life. This will allow the products to communicate, via the “internet of things”, with each other and with human beings. Scary scifi type talk…but it is happening!  

Manufacturers can gather information about how their products are being used by the end consumers. This data, when used properly, will help the manufacturer to develop new products more rapidly and better tailor products for the consumer.They can even in some circumstances remotely fix any faults more quickly by means of a software patch or download. Or, and this is even more transformative, actually enhance and add features to existing products.

Where the strength and major benefits of this type of connection and the use of the Internet of Things can be seen and used most effectively is in areas such as stock-keeping and supply-chain management. Andy Hobsbawm, the founder of Evrythng, a provider of technology for connected objects, notes that businesses will be able to follow the progress of their products from factory to shop to end-consumer—and the products will be able to “speak” to whoever handles them.  (Source The Economist)

Luxury brands will be able to ensure authenticity by embedding chips and software in to the goods which will tell the buyer that they are real and not a fake! Designer fashion products – watches, shoes, handbags “speaking” to their owners, probably via an app on their mobile device.

One of our favourite new industry disruptors, Tesla Cars, recently found that some of its cars had a problem with uphill starts. No major expensive recall for them however… the problem was fixed by transmitting a software update.

Sonos, Bluetooth speaker company, has improved it product post purchase through a software update that has been sent out. This update enables the loudspeakers to tune themselves to the acoustic qualities of the room in which they are placed.

Despite the fact that this technology is here now, only 19% of senior executives recently surveyed, said that they were planning radical changes to harness the potential of smart things; and only 39% had introduced training in digital skills. 

The knowledge gap, if anything, is widening....

The Culture Clash is coming to the board room

We recently read a great snippit in the economist which rang true to us so we are unapologetically re-publishing this here:

“Taking full advantage of smart products will require a revolution on the part of incumbent manufacturers. They will need to hire more information-technology specialists, who may not fit easily into a culture dominated by mechanical and electrical engineers. They will have to rethink their core competences: for example, instead of outsourcing their data management to IT firms, they may find that the ability to crunch data about their products in-house is as valuable as making the products themselves.

They will also have to grapple with such unfamiliar issues as privacy and cyber-security. A recent survey of 561 executives worldwide by our sister company, The Economist Intelligence Unit, suggested just how far the average business is from understanding any of this. The rapid rise of Uber and Airbnb suggests that it is foolish to underestimate the speed of the digital revolution. If they dawdle, manufacturers will be left behind as other types of business draw ever closer to customers. But if they embrace the smart revolution, they may create products—and indeed services—that really are worthy of being fetishized”  ( Source The Economist )