New Research: How to Bridge the Gap in Digital Product Design

Scott Roth | July 25, 2017

Bridging the Gap in Digital Product Design

Digital technologies are converging with traditional products at dizzying speeds. This fast-paced, integrated evolution is changing product development, and many companies are struggling to retain their footing.

Despite the shifting landscape, one thing remains clear: an excellent product requires a solid development process. Helping companies improve product development is at the heart of what Jama Software does, but we know this complex practice extends far beyond our platform.

To get a better feel for the methodologies and pain-points teams are facing creating connected products, we sponsored a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study. The resulting report, “Bridging The Gap In Digital Product Design,” features insights from nearly 300 innovators from a variety of industries, including manufacturing, technology, healthcare, financial services, and more.

What We Discovered

While we knew connected products were becoming more prevalent in our everyday lives, that trend has only just begun. A full 86% of organizations in our study have either applied digital technologies to their existing products or services, or are in the process of doing so.
86% of business and IT leaders are developing smart products or planning to
For many businesses, adding software to their physical products is already a challenging proposition. It’s compounded by stress from new competitors threatening disruption. To maintain an edge in this new reality, companies are being forced to act fast, and that’s placing significant strain on the development process.

In fact, 80% of those implementing digital technologies say they feel either somewhat or significantly added pressure to increase time to market for products and services. And an even greater majority (89%), expect that pressure to grow in the future. According to the report, some of the other big challenges businesses are facing with this transformation include ensuring new smart products work within the ecosystem of other connected devices, the clashing of traditional and digital product design, and trouble staffing and training the right employees.
89% of business and IT leaders expect somewhat or significant increases in time-to-market pressure from implementing digital technologies
When implementing any new process, there’s bound to be some unforeseen obstacles along the way. For instance, just 24% of respondents in the report identified the need to manage and secure customer data as a major challenge. The problem is many organizations may be underestimating this responsibility, according to Hans Brechbühl, executive director of the  Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, who was interviewed for the report. That’s because while the constant flow of usage data can be advantageous for informing future product iterations, companies inexperienced in managing this information may not realize the evident risks.

What’s Next

There are so many valuable insights and trends within “Bridging The Gap In Digital Product Design” it’s more than will can fit into a single post. That’s why we’ll be diving deeper into some of the themes and findings in the coming weeks with a dedicated blog series, featuring observations from Jama Software experts.

And let me know any feedback or questions in the comments below. With so many major industries refreshing product offerings with connected devices, the conversation about the best methodologies for improving and maintaining this process is just getting underway.