Perspective: Developing Software-Intensive Products: Addressing the Innovation-Complexity Conundrum presents survey data and analysis to help manufacturers understand the benefits and challenges of developing products that derive a significant amount of their capabilities from software. The terms “embedded software” and “mechatronics” really don’t describe the varied uses of software in today’s products from automobiles to appliances. This report describes how companies can take advantage of the benefits available from software-intensive products while using using organization structure, business processes, and structured systems like ALM and PLM to address the significant challenges and business impacts resulting from added development complexity.
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Table of Contents
- Executive Overview
- Increased Prevalence and Importance of Product Software
- Adopt a Software-Intensive Product Strategy
- Understand Challenges and the Resulting Business Impacts
- Organize for Success
- Look at the Big Picture
- Take an Integrated Approach to Enablement
- About the Author
- About the Research
Manufacturers today face a strategic conflict as they develop products that derive a significant amount of functionality and innovation from software. On the one hand, software dramatically improves product innovation, increases product capabilities, and provides other important strategic benefits ranging from competitive market advantages to cost savings. These benefits are compelling, as described in Tech-Clarity’s Systems & Software Driven Innovation: Complexity and Opportunity in the Mechatronic Era. On the other hand, product developers face increased complexity that can lead to poor quality, longer product development cycles, and reduced efficiency. Tech-Clarity surveyed over 100 companies to understand how manufacturers can take advantage of the benefits of a software-intensive product strategy without suffering from the inherent complexity.
The study results underscore the importance of addressing this innovation-complexity conundrum. The majority of companies significantly increased the amount of software, the importance of software, and the innovation driven by software in their products over the last five years – and plan to increase these further over the next five years. Why? The simple answer is better products. Survey respondents across industries confirmed this, indicating that strategies to achieve greater product capabilities, smarter products, and increased innovation drive the need to include more software in products.
The survey also uncovered significant challenges and negative business impacts resulting from complexity. For example, over one-half of the companies surveyed indicate they experience product quality issues and delayed time to market when developing software intensive products. How can manufacturers enjoy the benefits of a software-driven product strategy without falling into the quality and time to market traps due to complexity? The survey identified that companies with the following characteristics reported fewer significant, negative impacts when engineering products that include electrical, mechanical, and software components:
- Unified or integrated teams for electrical, mechanical, software engineering
- Use of systems modeling
- Unified or integrated solutions for designing software-intensive products
- Use of formal data / lifecycle management solutions (ALM and/or PLM)
Tech-Clarity’s conclusion from this report is that a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) approach is well positioned to enhance collaboration and integrate processes, teams, and technology to relieve manufacturers from the challenges and impacts inherent in developing software-intensive products.