The combination of hardware, software and industrial design is driving a wave of innovation across the globe. In South Africa we hold the title of World Design Capital (WDC2014) and for good reasons. SA hosts some of the best product design companies out there and we find ourselves in the international lime light regularly for pushing innovation and creativity.
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This culture of innovative thinking is welcomed in a time when end users are demanding more customised solutions that both appeal to and excite the user when interacting with the product.
Businesses and entrepreneurs are encouraged to look beyond software-only solutions and venture into the realm of “cross-functional” engineering. This might seem daunting and unknown territory to some, yet that in itself hints at the opportunities.
Ideas Are Plentiful; Drive Isn’t…
How many times have we heard someone say, “I thought of that years ago”? Great ideas are abundant, it’s what we decide to do with them that counts.
Creatives tend to become secretive and protective of their ideas which in most cases results in no product getting to market. With 3D printing becoming increasingly more accessible to the general public we have seen an influx of hobbyists trying their hands at product design.
This level of invention is great but similar to claiming a person can write Shakespeare quality work because he/she knows how to use a word processor.
Partner yourself with people who have experience in idea screening, product scoping, business case development, prototyping and manufacture.
They know the pitfalls of taking an idea from inception to a fully functional product and can advice and guide you accordingly. Getting a physical product to market is not reserved for the big corporate. Anyone can achieve this if they start asking the right questions.
Think “Big Picture”
A solution should be focused on value creation and to the extent that time allows, the maximisation of that value through innovation. This objective of course has a time element which appeals to integration, longevity and efficiency.
It is also helpful to take a “Blue Ocean” or systemic approach to a problem as this can help to reveal multiple new opportunities either by combining problems solutions, anticipating future needs etc.
Implement Total Solutions
Indeed, tapping into different technologies offers many ways of addressing a problem or implementing an idea.
The go-to point for most companies involves a piece of software. Think of a calculator implemented for a costings department or a mobile app for their sales reps operating remotely. More companies are, however, starting to acknowledge the limitation of a software-only solution and are starting to tap into the additional value offered by more customised products.
By looking at a product solution in its bigger system you start to see how that simple stand-alone calculator application in your costings department could be put to more use if bundled within a product.
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Now the user can operate remotely. Add a built in scanner for easier stock take and mount the device to an assembly line for automated reporting. The solution is no longer limited to what the operator can do from behind their PC or phone.
A Handle on Innovation
When you start thinking of how a total solution can better suit your needs you open doors to uncontested market space which allows you to break away from the competition. A total product solution is more marketable and offers integration as well as that “wow” factor often needed.