I had the opportunity this week to attend PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 IoT Strategy Forum in Boston. The event focused on improving collaboration, reducing costs, and accelerating innovation driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). It was a 2 day event that highlighted numerous real-world success stories and the future plans of IoT. The overall message I took away from the event is that the future is smart, connected products – a sentiment that I, and Aberdeen, couldn’t agree more with. The incorporation of software, into products that are traditionally based in mechanical and electrical components, has allowed for new innovations to take place. This is true for all industries as well; products are becoming increasingly reliant in their coordinated use of mechanics, electronics, and embedded systems (Table 1).
Table 1: Products are only Becoming more Complex
Clearly the use of software is exploding among product developers today. While it is true that the use electronics and embedded software can bring new improvements and capabilities never available before, it is a double-edged sword. Companies must develop the applications necessary to run and manage this software, which is easier said than done. As more of these products (or “Things”) become connected, more applications will be necessary to manage them (estimates can get to as high as 500 Million distinct applications needed in the coming years). The problem is that designing these applications requires skilled workers – workers that most companies do not have in abundance.
In fact, this point was raised during Russ Fadel’s presentation (President of ThingWorx). He estimated that around 20% of a designers time was spent developing applications, with the other 80% focusing on the infrastructure aspects of IoT. With the lack of skilled desingers out there, the more time that can be saved on low-value activities really adds up. He acknowledged that point and stated that their goal is to flip that 80/20 rule on its head – allowing designers to spend 80% of their time focusing on the applications. Effective Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is going to become crucial towards the success of product development going forward. New products are the backbone for most organizations these days, the more time that a designer has to focus on product development, the higher the likelihood that these products will be successful. The key to being successful going forward will be allowing those skilled employees you do have to be more efficient with their time.