Written by: Grant Bodley, IBM Vice President, Electronics & High-Tech Industry Leader, Global Business Services
It’s ironic that some companies in the high-tech industry making transformative electronics need to reinvent themselves to have a successful future. They don’t have to start over. But they do need to consider how they will transform their products, services and businesses to answer consumer demand and overcome disruptive market forces.
There are two fundamental dimensions as high-tech heads toward a deep digital reinvention. First, companies must transition from asking, “How can we use what we know?” to examining and engineering: “What do we want to know?” The second dimension is developing the means to answer both — by going deeper and broader into data and insights.
Market-leaders are looking to artificial intelligence to achieve unprecedented scale and speed in getting results. AI enables companies to continuously learn how they can improve processes, enhance partnerships and gauge market forces.
Businesses in the high-tech industry are leveraging AI to reshape three core functions:
- Making the business model predictive instead of reactive
- Using agile sprints to decrease time to market
- Creating an always-improving product development model
Here’s a closer look at how some high-tech and electronics companies are rethinking the way they conceive and bring products to market.
The Business Model Makeover
IBM recently helped an energy technology company embrace a new digital business model. Previously, the company wasn’t converting data into insights, and its operations were still entirely manual. We helped them shift from a reactive stance to a proactive one by leveraging data to predict operations and improve the product design process.
The company now takes the sensor data from its products in the field and analyzes it against past performance and predictive models. This deep layer of insight spots equipment problems before they happen, improving not only repairs but also the design and creation of the next line of products. It’s not just a new approach to maintenance — it’s a new way of doing business.
“The speed with which the market is changing can make any feature obsolete, potentially before the costs are recouped,” wrote IBM’s Electronics and Environment, Energy and Utilities Research Director Cristine Gonzalez-Wertz. “What we’re experiencing isn’t a tech revolution. It’s a business model revolution.”
To respond to this change, IBM research found that 41 percent of electronics companies are launching or modifying new business models in the next two to three years to respond, compared to 17 percent that did so in the past two to three years. That’s a transition to previously unattainable growth, enabled by data, insight and AI.
Success Through Sprints
Companies in the high-tech industry can’t wait to see if their products will take hold in the marketplace. If a product misses the mark, a new and improved one has to follow fast. And 12- to 18-month development cycles are no longer viable. Product development has to be quick and nimble and rely more on software, data and apps than hardware. The best way to answer market demands is to treat design not like a rigid marathon, but rather as an agile sprint.
Partnering with the client stakeholders in design sessions, we create agile workflows that accelerate the development and release of products. These sessions enable us to collectively create customer experiences with prototypes that identify hurdles in development and work to reinvent the process.
These unique sessions are like training programs for athletes. Through repetition, we test, create, get feedback, go back to the drawing board and sprint all over again. We run several prototype sessions, constantly learning and refining how products can be created fast so that, eventually, real products can quickly answer market demands.
Improvement Through Deep Learning
Rapid advancements in technology have opened the door to amazing products that not only wow consumers but also alter how businesses operate. With tiny chips holding previously unimaginable compute power and memory, massive amounts of data can be analyzed fast and in ways beyond the limits of the human mind. These chips, with the hardware and architecture on which they rely, continuously create new market opportunities.
AI and deep learning have enabled a new way of processing information, allowing electronics companies to create a data loop through which they continuously learn and improve business processes. And with real-time, predictive insight that illuminates internal operations and external market conditions, companies can take advantage of unforeseen opportunities to reshape the development of products and services.
For example, cloud data services company NetApp wanted to get more value out of its ever-increasing stockpile of customer data. We worked with them to design Elio With Watson, a virtual assistant based on AI capabilities that enhances the company’s real-time customer service through digital channels. Not only does the technology provide precise answers to customer inquiries in a rapid, flexible way, it also learns and improves with every interaction.
NetApp now has a query answer rate that’s four times faster than traditional methods. And it’s extensible — as more data is brought in from multiple sources, that knowledge can be immediately applied to other services as well as product development and feature design.
Stay Ahead of the Curve with AI
The high-tech industry has advanced at record speed, and it won’t slow anytime soon. Electronics companies need to harness the very things they promise customers: intelligence, responsiveness and speed.
By integrating AI-supported deep learning and analytics with product development and other processes, companies can effectively predict which directions they should next turn, create products faster than before and continuously improve how they operate.
Don’t forget to check out our article on the new chapter in AI adoption, too.