Although widely used and straightforward, the linear approach to product development and design has started to reveal serious limitations. One of the most vexing and prevalent challenges has been the inefficient flow of information throughout this process. For example, the people launching the product into the market frequently have not found out quickly enough about changes made by engineers to the product’s design. This often wreaks havoc with the process, slows product deliveries, and lowers customer satisfaction. These problems have been particularly acute in the aerospace and defense industry. Major airplane programs have been late to market by more than three years, costing the industry billions of dollars.
To remedy the situation, product development groups are shifting to a more holistic digital mindset using digital business models, processes and tools. To be clear, use of digital technology, per se, is not new. In the 1990s, for example, aerospace and automotive manufacturers embraced digital tools for automated product development. What is new, however, is that product developers are increasingly strategizing and executing their product development, manufacturing and product launches from an all-digital perspective—leveraging smarter technologies, more useful data, and better insights.
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