What’s New in Engineering and Product Development Technology?
The steps involved in engineering and product development are well established. They involve needs assessment, market research, prototype development, test marketing, then getting the product to market. Consistent product development, either improving existing products or filling needs with new products, all market driven, is a necessity for companies to avoid stagnation and keep up with trends in a changing marketplace.
New technologies and methods begin in the market research phase of product development. Mobile surveys are in use in nearly two-thirds of market research studies. Online survey communities are established and used by 56 percent of market research. Social media analytics are used in 46 percent of market research. Techniques like text analytics, eye tracking, and behavioral economic and ethnological studies are used increasingly to assess the market for new products.
Prototype development is going through a process of technological change. Rapid prototyping is a method of creating an early version of a final product for testing and consumer feedback without having to fully flesh out the product. Rapid prototyping is a quick cyclical process of creation, revision and iteration that allows the model to get from idea to working process as quickly as possible. Sketching and brain-storming from the sketches or use of UI stencils and wire-framing allow developers to assess the impact of the product before going to low and high fidelity prototype hardware.
The realization that product development has its own timeline and has to be managed differently from production is a new development in product development.
Product development has become something of a production line itself. Many companies want to keep a steady stream of new products in the queue and keep their product development teams at full working capacity. Unfortunately developing products does not happen in a predictable and regularly scheduled way like manufacturing does.
Pushing product development into a regular schedule of deliverables often causes delays and errors, since many of the tasks involved in the research and development of new products have never been completed before. Game changing new products and new markets with the potential for exceptional returns, requiring a rare degree of organizational flexibility, can rarely happen in a routine setting where product development is pressed into a manufacturing mold.