As details regarding the termination of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone continue to unfold, there are several important lessons, both technological and organizational, that manufacturers and product organizations should take away from their peer’s costly product crisis:
- Company culture can sabotage entire product lines and destroy brands. In the press, sources from inside Samsung have pointed to aggressive business goals around beating the iPhone 7 to market as potentially to blame for shortcomings in the Galaxy Note 7’s design and testing. Following original reports of the Galaxy phones exploding, company leadership apparently discouraged testers and engineers from collaborating on possible defects to avoid email documentation that could hurt the company in court. Samsung ultimately made the wrong call on the source of combustion forcing termination of the Galaxy Note product line all together. Yes, staying in front of competitors and avoiding lawsuits is important for a company, but not at the cost of product quality. In this case, placing quality and customer experience as secondary priorities cost Samsung billions and could damage their brand beyond repair.
- Digital twin simulation can anticipate product malfunctions. The ability to simulate the performance of a product in a virtual environment is now a reality for manufacturers and can prevent malfunctions all together or at least lessen the impact of crises on the bottom line. Digital twin simulations allow engineers to test high stress scenarios on devices prior to production to anticipate component failures. If devices in the field do malfunction, digital twin technologies allow engineers to recreate the scenario virtually, expediting the identification of component failures and accelerating damage control efforts around product development and recall campaigns.
- Collaboration tools on PLM systems can also reduce product failures. Prominent PLM vendors are increasingly designing collaboration tools around products for both in house stakeholders and third party partners. Internal collaboration can help to knock down company silos, both geographic and functional, that have existed in the product development process. External collaboration can help to decrease price points, improve efficiency, and encourage critical discussion of how component parts will come together and function. In all cases, collaboration is a valuable tool to improve the quality of products, encourage product innovation with nontraditional stakeholders, and act as a catalyst in identifying a potential product flaw before it’s rolled out to market.
- High-tech firms, with extensive partner networks, especially need PLM. A fast growing vertical for PLM vendors has been the high-tech device space. The specialization of knowledge sets involved in high tech product development means that teams, supplier networks, and manufacturing partners are distributed across the globe and need a software solution that can connect and coordinate these disparate stakeholders. Customers in this space are also desperate for a solution that can help them get products to market rapidly and innovate on current product designs to stay ahead of competition. Finally, high tech firms are at the forefront of developing physical products that are heavily reliant on a high quality software experience – a complicated dynamic that PLM vendors are striving to enable.
For more insight on the product development organization and how PLM solutions can enable your business in the Age of the Customer, follow my research here.