How to create added value in your product with digital technology?

Many companies that build physical products are increasingly aware of the potential of smart(er) products and the Internet of Things, and are exploring what this can mean for their product and business. Easier said than done.

In addition to new technologies and a different approach to development, the business model and business operations may also change. No wonder that product builders sometimes get stuck in the many choices during their search for the 'golden' product idea. Sirris and imec develop tools that help companies to come up with a better smart product idea faster.

Recognisable choice overload

Thanks to digital technology, a product can be connected and made smart(er). In order to explore these possibilities, product builders often have to venture into less familiar territory. It involves different technologies and possibly a different business model and new competitors.

From our interactions with companies we learn that many of them are struggling with setting up a sound business case: a solution that is able to meet a real customer need and provides sufficient value in relation to the cost of developing and offering the solution. Because of the many choices and the lack of clarity about the risks, it is difficult to make the right decisions. These companies need an approach that supports them in this.

Help with orientation and decision-making

Sirris and imec have set up the 'Orientation and decision-making in smart product exploration' project to develop tools that support companies in exploring their smart product idea. The focus of those tools is on:

  • Scenarios that a company can use as a guide for their own product idea. These 'smart product scenarios' are identified on the basis of existing product examples and give a company relevant directions between the various possible product ideas.
  • An approach that allows a company to evaluate its product idea in terms of value creation, required technology & expertise, risks and potential partners.
  • An approach in which a company can control risks by means of proofs of concept of the product. These can be technological risks, but the purpose of a proof-of-concept can also be to check the market-fit of the product idea.

Example: digitally supported product maintenance

An example of a smart product scenario is linking a digitally supported maintenance service to the product. The product itself detects when maintenance is required and transmits the necessary information for a qualitative and efficient service, making sure the product is quickly operational again and to unburden the customer.

By offering a maintenance service, the product builder’s offer changes into a total solution that covers more of the customer's needs. In addition to higher margins on the service provided, this creates a closer customer relationship and raises a better understanding of the customer's needs. Additionally, the organisation should obviously become more service-oriented, the product information must be managed centrally and the products must be provided with the necessary connectivity.

Getting started 

Do you recognise yourself in these challenges and could you use some help? Sirris and imec are ready to support your business. Please contact us to get started. 

Would you like to know more about how the project 'Orientation and decision-making in smart product exploration' can help companies? Check the project page

'Orientation and decision-making in smart product exploration' is a COOCK project in collaboration with imec and Vlaio.