Saint El Camino: Our Lady of Internal Combustion (David Stephens, 2013)

Stop Thinking of Cars as Computers on Wheels

By | Automotive, Innovation, Manufacturing | No Comments

Is a Car Really Just a Computer on Wheels?

I am sure you have heard it before: your car is just a computer on wheels. It’s an opinion most common among the numerous startups and entrepreneurs with minimal industry experience attempting to jump on the automotive innovation bandwagon. I heard it again last week at an industry panel I participated in.

It’s true that modern cars incorporate a growing number of powerful computers that control most vehicle operations and interactions with driver and passengers, and with the outside world.

But whether thought-provoking or plain cute and trying to impress the audience, the assumption that these computers render a car as not much more than a powerful computer on wheels is not only inaccurate, it can be self-limiting and leading those new entrants astray. Read More

The Conjurer (School of Hieronymus Bosch, after 1500)

Predictive Maintenance: Myths, Promises, and Reality

By | Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Field Service, Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), Service Technology | One Comment

The industrial Internet of Things and its Digital Twin surrogate are fueling exciting conversations about business process innovation on the factory floor and in industrial equipment manufacturing. One hot area in particular is the broad and often loosely-defined practice of Predictive Maintenance (PdM) of complex machinery. As is frequently the case when technology innovation is trying to penetrate (should I have said “disrupt”?) an established business practice, there’s a good dose of hype and optimism on the side of technology pundits, countered by skepticism and resistance to change from maintenance organizations and experienced field service technicians.

A business associate sent me an article written by a technology vendor seeking to debunk what the authors deem to be myths about PdM (try searching for “predictive maintenance myths” and you will find a few on the topic). That article and recent vendor presentations I attended suggest that further examination of misunderstandings and perhaps exaggerated expectations from PdM technology is in order. Read More

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

IoT-Infused Innovation

By | Cloud Computing, Innovation, PLM | No Comments

The Innovator’s Myopia

Many product organization suffer from acute myopia. Once a product is sold or installed in the field, they lose sight of its performance, how users are interacting with it, and how well it supports the brand.

Of course, organizations do get some feedback from customers and field operations from time to time. But this information usually comes in the form of bad news: customer complaints, excessive warranty claims, and costly product replacements and repairs.

Upon careful observation, we should realize that organizational myopia doesn’t set during product deployment. It usually starts much earlier, when product marketing defines market needs and functional requirements for a new promising product.

Products are frequently defined and designed based on inaccurate, out of date, and biased perceptions about customer needs and competitive landscape. Product organizations are highly optimistic about customers enthusiasm to cope with yet another “disruptive” technology. And product designers often lack sufficient understanding of existing workflows and process integration requirements.

No wonder most new products fail. Read More

At The Optometrist (Norman Rockwell, 1956)

The Connected Enterprise as a Cure for Organizational Myopia

By | Innovation, Internet of Things, PLM | One Comment

Does Your Product Organization Suffer from Myopia?

You may not be aware of it, but your product organization may be suffering from acute myopia. Once the product is sold or installed in the field, product management lose sight of its performance, how users are interacting with it, and how well it meets customer expectations and business portfolio and market targets.

To be sure, your organization probably does hear back from customers from time to time. But when it does happen, it is usually bad news: customer complaints, excessive warranty claims, and costly replacements and repairs. Read More

Another America (Robert Weingarten, 2014)

Technology Evaluation the Amish Way

By | Innovation | No Comments

I spend a good amount of time reviewing technology and business innovations, and helping companies define, measure and articulate the value of new products and business models. Most of these interactions are exciting and challenging, as many of these new ideas are highly creative and demonstrate a serious attempt to create value for businesses, improve the quality of life of individuals and communities, and protect the environment.

On the other hand, too many of these innovations can be categorized simply as frivolous and wasteful, of the type that grabs headlines at the annual CES gathering but go nowhere and end up at top of the junk heap.

But telling the promising from the pointless, and the useful from the wasteful, isn’t always easy. It is certainly challenging to explain to a young bright-eyed and bushy-tailed entrepreneur why his idea may be “cool” but offers no meaningful value.

An old NPR podcast from 2013 about the Amish community triggered some musings about discovering and establishing the value of technology innovation. Read More