By Jan Janick, CTO, Benchmark
Product innovation in the previous decade was all about speed. Chip providers were driving the demand for faster processors and more computing power. Today, technology is less about the speed of processors and more about developing features that are faster than the competition. Instead of focusing purely on technology for speed, product innovation has shifted toward making better use of technology to improve products.
Companies are leveraging innovations like IoT, voice recognition, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to develop new product capabilities altogether. While this approach helps drive technology forward, the consequence is that most companies aren’t equipped to keep up. The company often struggles to integrate the latest technologies into products and finds it is challenged to stay ahead. This is usually a direct result of not investing in design and engineering. When these critical skills don’t receive enough attention and companies feel pressured to release innovative products faster, the focus ends up being on its core competency rather than integrating new and emerging technologies into its products.
Fortunately, there’s a way to combat this, and it’s through expecting more than just manufacturing services from an EMS partners. Companies should look to an EMS partner to fill in the gaps that fall outside of the business’s core competency. Whether a company’s engineering team has atrophied over time, has not been able to find and hire new engineers, or just has more products than its current engineering team can handle, an EMS partner with engineering expertise and experience that brings technology to the design process can help a company overcome the challenges of engineering skills and emerging technologies in its products.
Outside of reducing the pressure to innovate faster than the competition, EMS partners provide several key advantages. As speed to market and design cycles continue to be important, rapid prototyping of early hardware can help take weeks and months out of schedules. EMS partners with engineering expertise can leverage its skills to make better prototypes faster and debug technologies efficiently. This allows companies to deliver its products to market more quickly. Rapid prototyping of a product also reduces the cycle time of product launch into manufacturing since the manufacturer has already built early versions of the product. Another significant benefit of working with an EMS partner with design skills is the ability to offset the presence of risk-aversion in a product company’s team. It’s common for companies that focus on core competencies to get to the fifth generation of a product, and then feel stuck in terms of the product’s direction. EMS partners can mitigate this issue by supplementing its knowledge and bringing a new set of engineering talent to best enhance a product.
While established companies have its own set of product development challenges, startups should also consider the benefits of an EMS partner with design capabilities. Like well-established companies, startups often focus on core competencies to give it a competitive edge, but they don’t usually have the necessary skills or experience of full-product development. Not only do some startups not have the capacity for full product development, they also tend to have more requirements than startups of the past decade. As technology continues to evolve, demands become increasingly technical and more advanced. A partner that can bring years of product development and product launch experience in long-term manufacturing services has tremendous value to startup companies.
Because of these increasing challenges, EMS partners make crucial investments in markets that are most challenged by emerging technology. EMS companies with design capabilities are perfecting areas like aerospace and defense, telecommunications, 5G communication and high speed/RF circuit design that support commercial requirements. Additionally, EMS companies can provide expertise in the core building blocks of emerging technologies. This can include the radar and Lidar expertise for autonomous vehicles, IoT specialization to connect customers’ products as endpoints in the most intelligent manner possible or provide FDA certification services to medical device companies.
Due to the speed of technological innovations, most companies no longer possess the luxury of keeping up with the rapid change of technology and the impact it can have on the functionality and competitiveness of its products. Technology is moving beyond faster personal computers and better battery life, toward an infinite array of complex applications that span across all industries. Because technology today is focused on the integration of emerging technologies into current product sets and in entirely new product capabilities, companies can no longer operate in a vacuum. Instead, companies should look to an EMS partner with design expertise to increase its bandwidth, diversify its capabilities and solidify its competitive advantage in the marketplace.
About Jan Janick:
Jan Janick is the chief technology officer for Benchmark. In this role, Janick heads a team of highly skilled engineers responsible for ensuring Benchmark’s components keep customers’ products at the forefront of their industries. He possesses more than 30 years of experience leading high-performance multicultural technology development teams at industry-leading computing systems companies.
Prior to joining Benchmark, Janick has served in executive roles at IBM and Lenovo. He led the IT team for the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy and led the development, production and program management of IBM’s significant acquisition of Texas Memory System. Janick earned both his Bachelor and Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.