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Traditional businesses are witnessing and many of them are driving a fundamental change in the way they operate. These are influenced by multiple factors like evolving customer demands, fast emerging technologies and imminent need to remain competitive.

Changing Business Dynamics

Selling services and consumables rather than selling products themselves would have been a novel idea few years ago. But these are already legendary tales of today. Like the example of how selling a ‘compressed air equipment’ is giving way to just selling ‘compressed air’. Just as desired by the end customer and just when they want it. Companies have to find novel ways to address these evolving needs. And these evolving needs also usher in newer opportunities for growing the businesses and  differentiating in the market that were unthinkable earlier. Better service level agreement at lower costs, premium offerings or newer revenue streams from services to name a few.

Relevance of holistic systems engineering approach

Transitions like mentioned above are already occurring faster than one would anticipate. These shifts in the emerging business models also necessitates fundamental shift in the way the products are made. In this newer digital era, it is imperative that products are more enriched with the ability to become contextually aware, be able to communicate and become a communication channel of information. The smarter connected products would be interplay of mechanical, electrical/electronic and software components. In many ways it would be a system of sub-systems each with its own degree of complexity. 

This shifts the focal point to how products are designed and manufactured. The need for bringing the different aspects of design, mechanical or otherwise, people and processes in an integrated product development environment though sounding idealistic is an imperative today. The holistic approach of systems engineering which was in the realm of manufacturing very complex advanced systems like in aircraft industry is as relevant and applicable for today’s manufacturers.

Challenges

The origin of such connected products lays in authoring tools of multiple disciplines. Bringing together the mechanical aspects of design with its electrical/electronic counterparts and software in the context of the product is challenging. The challenging aspect is to enable collaboration among these disciplines, in an iterative way and more importantly bring the data and weave them together at the product level. This complex product definition of course needs to be tied in with the requirements, design, processes, tests, simulations and service aspects.  Given the changing business environment & dynamics combining this complex product data model with the business data is an essential ingredient for commercial successes of the customers and their customers.

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