The Industry 4.0 revolution of intelligent, data-driven manufacturing is dependent upon innovation in factory robotics and data centre servers, all of which requires innovation in hardware.
Source: The New Hardware Innovations Designed To Drive Industry 4.0, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/05/16/the-new-hardware-innovations-designed-to-drive-industry-4-0.
© Lenny Kuhne
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Hardware innovation is a long-term process, typically taking up to 4 years from concept to market launch, with a 2 year refresh cycle of in-market products. Unlike software innovation, which is fast enough for rapid feedback and iterative corrections, hardware requires an innovation strategy that is right from day one.
The range of innovation strategies includes fully internal R&D, long-term collaboration with academia, and shorter partnerships with third-party technology providers. By far the most effective strategy is co-development with a customer: close customer collaboration inevitably yields key insights that are unobtainable elsewhere, and the customer’s market credibility can often boost sales of the final product.
The amount of innovation is also important: is the new design attempting to incrementally improve upon existing products, or will it deliver an entirely new core capability? If the latter, do the advantages actually represent real value to customers that will translate into a positive ROI given the higher risks and costs?
As a result of the long development times, hardware innovation requires best-in-class planning, regardless of strategy or innovation, in order to maintain the funding commitment to completion and successful launch.