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Smart Products Need Smart Design. Here's How You Stay Ahead of the Game

When IBM launched SIMON, the first ever commercial smartphone, back in 1992, the company could hardly have imagined how much this technology would evolve in the next quarter of a century.

Fast-forward a few decades and suddenly everyone and their granny has a smartphone. Their impact has changed lives, cultures and communication in every corner of the globe - and will keep doing so, in ways we can only imagine.

Yet, while smartphones are a staple of modern life, they’re also evolving at breakneck speed. As we approach the fifth generation (5G) of these amazing devices, their features and capabilities are barely recognizable from IBM’s original vision - and similarly, the cutting edge technology of today will be obsolete tomorrow.

This development is driven by users. They expect a lot, they’re willing to pay for it, and if the big hitters can’t provide this fast enough, there are plenty of contenders waiting in the wings, furiously designing and creating impressive alternatives to entice them away.

It’s not just smartphones, though. Technology is getting smarter, all across the board.

From consumer electronic products like TVs, digital cameras, watches and kitchen appliances through to high-tech products for the security and control instruments industry, everyone’s fighting to roll out the best smart features and customized experience for buyers.

Today, the extent to which your average consumer engages with smart technology would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction a few generations ago. They use smart instruments like Google Home to monitor daily schedules as well as heating, lighting and appliances. They use smart watches to maintain a healthy routine. They fit smart electronic security devices to keep their families safe.

These items rely on semiconductors to deliver the right user experience - and semiconductor designers need to be innovative and versatile enough to serve the constantly changing requirements placed on them by demanding customers.

Yes, it’s a competitive market… but for companies able to develop valuable products in this field, the appetite, and the profit potential, is huge.

Ready to rise to the challenge? Here’s what you need to know.

1. Customer Requirements Change All the Time

We can’t state this enough: in this industry, your work is never done. Customers’ demands change all the time and you must be agile enough to adapt, fast.

Get end users involved in the design process right from the beginning and make sure that your design and development workflow (and the technology you use to manage this!) lets you incorporate customer requirements analysis at every stage of the product development cycle.

This optimizes development time, ensuring your product doesn’t miss its moment and will actually sell!

2. You Need To Focus On Customer Experience

It’s simply not enough to design a product with a bunch of cool features. Unless customers also find it easy and enjoyable to use, these will fall by the wayside. Your designers need to think carefully about how the product will be delivered and what kind of experience that creates, not just what the product can do.

3. Performance and Compliance Are Key

Product recall is a disaster for a company. The financial hit is bad enough, but this is dwarfed by the cost to your reputation.

Never release a product without being 100% certain that it meets performance specifications, and that it abides by all the rules and regulations of every country you plan to sell it in. This is a very serious concern, and it’s vital that the technology you use to manage your design cycles allows you to track product performance and compliance.

4. Competition is Fierce

High-tech industries are both volatile and tricky to break into. You’re up against some serious competition and some very fickle customers. That means you can never afford to rest on your laurels and need to be innovating all the time.

If your team is scattered around the country or even the world, make sure you have an effective way to bring together all their knowledge, ideas, insight and expertise. It’s no use having all these amazing people working for you if you can’t harness that amazingness into one design powerhouse!

5. You Need a Complex Product Portfolio

Not only are customers demanding, they’re all demanding in different ways. High-tech companies need to cater for this with multiple variations of the same product.

Bear in mind, though, that managing such a complex portfolio of products comes with its own challenges. You must be able to save and store data systematically, and have the right team members access the right data in real time. Without this, design cycles will grind to a halt and your portfolio will descent into chaos.

Final Thoughts...

Smart technology design is not for the faint of heart. Not only do you need a brilliant team of designers, you also need impeccable product lifecycle management (PLM) to translate their vision into products fast enough to serve the ever-raising standards of your customer base.

Be sure to opt for a system that allows you to stay abreast of emerging trends and customer requirements, and to integrate these at every stage of the development process.

One that allows you to work on many different versions of the same product at the same time, catering for a range of needs.

One that’s robust and agile enough to keep everyone in your organization on the same page and fully up to date.

One that help you forecast how small changes to a design will impact on the manufacturing stage. One that keeps you on the right side of regulations in every market you plan to enter, and helps you to fix problems early on to avoid nasty surprises once it’s too late.

With a PLM like this, you’ll be in the best possible position to take the smart technology world by storm.

Wondering where to find a PLM that can do all this? Our powerful 3DEXPERIENCE platform could be just what you need. To find out more about how 3DEXPERIENCE can push you to the top of your high-tech industry, contact

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