In our everyday personal lives, there is a digital thread that connects us to the things we like, the information we need, and the people we know. This digital thread exists in our work lives as well and is increasingly being leveraged by manufacturers to enhance time to market, product quality, customer responsiveness, and overall product and service innovation.
A digital thread is enabling systems to become more integrated across the enterprise and value chain, such as in a product innovation platform, where product, demand, and supply information are brought together. Although with this interconnected system, there are natural risks such as system, resource, and market fluctuation, the benefits are the unification of relevant product and service data, more rapid decision making, and effective collaboration among design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, partners, suppliers, service, and customers.
This digital, unified approach could not have come at a better time. Global manufacturers are facing intense pressure because of low-cost competition, dynamic customer demand, environmental impact concerns, and high-product quality expectations. These pressures are in part alleviated through a global view of all product and service innovation information as well as through an application of simulation and modeling more broadly: not only for product design and performance but also modeling of production, cost, supply chain risk, service execution, and manufacturing plant.
For discrete manufacturers, products are very complex, with increasing amounts of software and connectivity – hence the reason you see convergence of ALM (application lifecycle management), PLM (product lifecycle management), and analytics. Recent examples highlighting this trend include PTC's acquisition of predictive analytics company ColdLight in May 2015, and Siemens PLM's acquisition of ALM vendor Polarion, announced today.
The good news is there are multiple advancements in product and service innovation, as depicted in our predictions for 2016, which will help. A product innovation platform, digital twins of products, collaborative engineering/manufacturing, analytics, and emerging technologies like augmented reality and 3D printing will support manufactures in the coming years as they address the aforementioned challenges and strive for improved speed, collaboration, quality, and decision support across the product and service life cycles.
With that as a backdrop, here are the top product innovation prediction themes for 2016 and beyond (note the first two cross product and service innovation):
- Use of a product innovation platform to drive quality throughout the product and service life cycles.
- Virtual simulation to model products, manufacturing processes, and service delivery. For more on this, you may want to read my recent blog, "How far can the digital twin go?"
- Analytics to make sense of data from connected products and manufacturing.
- Increased use of cloud for design collaboration and quality.
- Manufacturing planning and operations data integrated more tightly with PLM.
- Increased focus on the environmental impact and efficiency of products and manufacturing plants.
For more detail on our 2016 product and service innovation predictions, here's the url to the full report, as well as our 2016 FutureScape webcast. Both were written and produced in concert with my colleague Heather Ashton, who is the lead for our Service Innovation research. Our IDC India colleague S Ramachandran also contributed to our FutureScape report.