Product Development Is More Than Just Developing the Product


With rapid innovations taking place at the platform, modular, and interface levels, it’s no surprise that innovation is also exploding at the system, product, and service levels. When individual technologies create new innovative integrations and collaborations, the sky is the limit, it seems, for what can be accomplished – especially when the human element is part of the equation.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 Industry 4.0 Trends (as captured by StartUs insights:1), which demonstrates where innovations are taking place:

  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. Human Augmentation & Extended Reality
  3. Edge, Fog & Cloud Computing
  4. Network & Connectivity
  5. Advanced Robotics
  6. Internet of Everything
  7. Big Data & Analytics
  8. Additive Manufacturing
  9. Cybersecurity, Transparency & Privacy
  10. Digital Twin

And here are just a few of the areas that are witnessing tremendous growth, not just in innovative ideas and applications, but in market consumption and revenue generation:2

  • 3D Printing: Also known as “additive manufacturing,” 3D printing is used by roughly 65% of industrial companies to complement their product development processes, a key driver behind the estimated increase to a $24.9 billion market in 2024.
  • Internet of Things: Just like software applications connect to each other via application program interfaces (APIs), so too do hardware applications—but via other sensors, systems, and machine-to-machine (M2M) interfaces. This is where IoT comes in, connected through advancements in cellular technologies (namely 5G) that connect systems in ways not possible before. Picture sensor-enabled automobiles and smart power grids as two now-common examples. Some estimates indicate there will be more than 41 billion IoT devices by 2027.3
  • Data-Driven Design: With most software companies building analytics directly into their applications, this is a clear sign that data is critical in understanding how things work in the field. Using that data—or perhaps even selling it—has become a means to create new and exciting solutions that also benefit from reduced testing time as they are brought to market.

Many of these examples can easily convert to competitive advantages for an organization. They may present themselves in the form of quicker times to market, better products that improve customer satisfaction, and even up to 16% operating profit increases.4

There are countless examples to draw from in pretty much every industry sector. Do a quick Internet search, and you will find examples and inspiration for almost anything that can be imagined.

Turn to human intuition to bring the idea to market

Having a killer idea and the supporting technologies to make it possible is a massive part of the equation. But—at least for now and until autonomous robotics completely takes over the entire manufacturing process—organizations need a team of primarily humans to build, test, and deliver the product.

And, of course, that process needs to be managed by a human to ensure it meets the market, quality, regulatory, and budget requirements set for the program. Again, technologies such as project management software and team collaboration applications can help in this endeavor, but the human element remains paramount.

When humans are involved, miscommunication, ambiguity, and human error are introduced, which makes building products anything but easy. Many product deliveries are late, and many still fail to succeed in their delivery, having missed the mark on features, quality, and other essential product requirements. After the idea and market viability are determined, many top challenges in product development success await, including:5

  • Changes in product requirements and roadmap
  • Workflow management
  • Product engineering issues
  • Pricing policy
  • The pace of innovation

If things go unchecked, numerous issues abound with the potential to cause further delays:

  • Unforeseen build environment circumstances
  • Legacy system integration and maintenance
  • Quality and cybersecurity/vulnerability issues
  • Compliance and certification issues

To help overcome many of these challenges, some organizations turn to outsourced development. This can include shifting the entire product development lifecycle over to an outside firm to manage. It can also include bringing on staff to augment existing resources to take on specific challenges or manage the entire project.

Managing the project workflow can be one of the more complex issues to resolve. There are often undiscovered requirements, multiple operational dependencies, and different perspectives amongst individuals and functional teams. Here are the keys to managing these challenges:

  • Visibility into the process
  • Communication amongst key stakeholders
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • Handling of discrepancies and clear paths of resolution escalation

As you can see, product development depends on much more than the technology components required to develop the product. Assigning skilled people to manage the project and giving the entire team visibility into how the project is going is just as critical. But the effort to bring all the parts together is well worth it when you consider the innovation possibilities.

  1. Top 10 Industry 4.0 Trends & Innovations in 2022, StartUs, accessed June 1, 2022
  2. 6 Product Development Trends (2022-2024), Exploding Topics, January 2022
  3. THE INTERNET OF THINGS 2020: Here’s what over 400 IoT decision-makers say about the future of enterprise connectivity and how IoT companies can use it to grow revenue, Business Insider, March 2020
  4. 6 Product Development Trends (2022-2024), Exploding Topics, January 2022
  5. 10 Most Common Product Development Challenges, Product School, April 2021