In today’s competitive world where every business, every company is in a constant hustle to reach the top of their field, information technology is what everyone relies on. It’s the power information technology grants them through smart, connected products that make this never-ending urge to be the best in their fields possible.
Gone are the days of large, clunky machines that were unreliable and built to fulfill a single purpose. Today technology is far more reliable and robust, permanently morphing the industries and bringing them to the modern era while erasing the past stereotypes of product creation and distribution. But what exactly are these smart, connected products, and how have they transformed the competition?
What are Smart, Connected Products?
Smart, connected products have three base elements: smart components, physical components, and connectivity components.
- Physical components are the mechanical or hardware components of a product. It refers to everything from car tires to keyboards and monitors.
- Smart products refer to the automated, sensor-driven products where software controls the working of the product while allowing the product to perform numerous tasks at the same time. Often built with integrated operating systems and microprocessors, the hardware and software work in tandem to bring forth a well-functioning smart machine.
In simpler words, intelligent components are the brains behind the functioning of a product; these are what make a product “smart.” From rain-sensing window wipers to AI based data handling systems all come under the umbrella of smart products.
- Connectivity of a product is the antennae, ports, and protocols that allow a product to function wirelessly. These are the components that help a product connect and exchange data with other products and their manufacturer.
Connectivity enables a product to have a presence apart from the hardware in the form of cloud and internet links. These three components work together to create a smart, connected product that allows businesses today to all be connected and has reshaped the competition within every field.
Revolution in competition and strategies
Over the past 50 years, IT have changed and morphed competition and business strategies in unimaginable ways. It all started during the ’60s, and 70’s when the first primary computer-aided design and planning systems came into implication. It led to the standardization of a specific set of machinery and general processes while significantly increasing the speed of manufacturing and overall productivity.
The second wave of IT transformation came in the ’80s, and 90’s with the invention of the internet. The internet is a cheap yet high powered tool that opened the doors to a new era of connectivity and smart products. Not only this, the internet enabled businesses and companies to expand globally while coordinating with suppliers, customers, and warehouses anywhere without any geographical limitations.
Today the third and possibly the most significant IT transformation of competition and strategizing is on its way. Unlike the previous waves where the product and IT were separate and functioned individually, the third wave is bringing in products where IT is part of the product itself, meaning technology is built-in to the product, computers are part of the products. It is all coupled with cloud technology capable of handling massive amounts of data with ease, and has brought about unimaginable changes to the functioning and performance of products.
These smart and connected products are developing in all sectors of manufacturing, from heavy machinery to energy to day to day consumer goods, every industry is embracing the more intelligent machines.
But why now? Surely the technology was available 20 years ago, then why is it only today that smart technology has become the norm? As technology develops, it becomes cheaper, more comfortable to manufacture, and smaller in size, allowing all the manufacturing sectors to make use of them in ways they see fit.
Not only this, the invention of low-cost high-power computer processors and data processing and storing making smart and connected products a reality. Along with this, the implementation of technology stacks by companies has made smart products the norm. Technology stacks refer to the hardware, software, and operating systems all being embedded and integrated right into the product along with communication with the cloud and network comms for analytics, product applications, and rules engines that are not built into the software.
In simpler words, the existence of a smart product with connectivity allows the product to access other external data and maintain contact with other products such as management systems or CRM’s.
Things mentioned above is how the story of smart, connected products has progressed over the past 50 years. From being unreliable and, messy machines have slowly evolved into intelligent and relevant products capable of communicating and changing with the user. Today there is a system of each product, meaning a system of products in every field that maintains contact with one another, sharing data and information and a method of operations. Systems of each area sharing data with other systems creating a massive network of products where everything is connected and coordinated.
Companies that want to survive this new age need to adapt and make use of this technology to stay a step ahead of their competition. The only way to stay on top is to offer what your competitors do but at a lower price while keeping your operating costs low. The only way to do this is to integrate into the systems of smart products, using the best tools in every part of the company like management systems, content marketing, marketing funnels, supply chain management, and everything else technology has to offer.
Salman Zafar is an acclaimed blogger, editor, publisher and digital marketer. He is the founder of Blogging Hub, a digital publishing portal with wide following across the world.