How Fortune 500 Companies Can Accelerate Their Smart Product & Eco-System Development

How Fortune 500 Companies Can Accelerate Their Smart Product & Eco-System Development

As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more advanced, more Fortune 500 companies are already exploring innovative ways to enhance customer experience, create new revenue streams, and grow their brands by developing smart technology solutions to work in their unique environments and for their customers.


In fact, many companies in verticals such as hospitality, consulting, banking, shared workspace, big box retailers, home entertainment companies, and commercial and residential developers — where they control the environment  — are already developing their own smart products versus buying off the shelf, to create smarter eco-systems.


It makes sense; innovation drives success. Look, for advanced as Amazon is now, people sometimes forget it was once simply a book retailer. The company’s success truly came after developing products to control its business outcomes. Those products — from Kindle to Alexa  — have become an integrated part of the business structure and helped expand the entire business overall. 


The question is, with the opportunity moving at the speed of light, and many of their competitors also on the same path, how can companies accelerate the process while mitigating the risk? 


3 key options for companies to move into the product development space:


  1. Most start with the option of buying off-the-shelf (OTS). Some CFO’s may believe this to be the most cost-effective strategy, but it has a number of limitations; you don’t always get what you need for your organization. Once the C-suites understand the numerous advantages of making the investment in their own product with specific functions and unique outcomes designed for their business, the next step is either working with a proven third party product design and development studio to develop your own or even building or acquiring your own team. 


  1. Some companies have begun building out core teams in combination with third-party firms. We recently worked with a major social media company and their internal team on a new product launch.  It was an integrated effort where our skills and track record were put to use to complement their vision. We helped them accelerate the delivery of a product they hope will revolutionize video chatting. This is just one example of how to build a flexible team together.
    But the trend to bring PD&D in house presents a challenge for many companies. It’s a matter of talent. There is a finite number of people in the world who have done product design for consumer electronics. That number gets smaller when it comes to those who have done multiple iterations on a platform and even fewer who have worked across different types of products and companies.  Many big players in the marketplace are snapping up much of this talent. While they all have long internal direct hiring lists, it begs the question: how often can you hire a group of teams that have worked together cross functionally?


  1. The fastest way to get from here to there is to acquire an existing and successful development studio. By building your own foundation on an existing cross-functional team (with a proven track record in consumer electronic and smart products), you have the ability to build a plan around the team, accelerate the process, attract talent and scale, and mitigate your risks. All while, you are able to get what you want and need — exactly what you want and need — for your company. Instead of the inherent challenges of slowly hiring talent one by one, acquisition can get you there in one move. It’s about saving energy and time in the fast-paced world of being first to market.


Here is a short video I recently did on the options you have that dives a little deeper



The Advantages of Acquisition


Experience: An established PD&D team has proven itself and brings much to the table. Each team member is well-seasoned, has a great depth of knowledge and has seen a variety of issues in the past. This makes the team as a whole more confident because it’s possible to better predict the schedule, anticipate possible pitfalls and address issues appropriately.


Talent: When you start from scratch to build a team, you can’t just find talented individuals. You must find talented individuals who work well together. It’s not unusual for such a process to take time. Along the way, members may leave or join the team. When you acquire an existing team, you automatically have a group of people who already know how to get things done as a team.


Skillsets: There is a lot of risk involved with product development. When you have seasoned professionals on the team, these individuals don’t panic when the unexpected happens. They know how to handle each unique issue as it occurs and know when to pull in others from the network to deliver a special skill or capability.


Track record: A great team will have a vision and can stay ahead of the curve as they navigate the marketplace because they already know what it takes to successfully ship a product.


Adaptability: Don’t confuse acquiring a team with buying off the shelf. Talented teams not only provide great talent, but the kind of talent you require. They will have exceptional communication skills and adaptability to fulfill the intended vision of each specific project.


Cost effectiveness: When you don’t have to invest the time and energy to build a team from the ground up, you save costs across the board. Engaging with an acquired team puts the focus directly on the product and the task at hand. Instead of years, you could be shipping in months.


If acquisition is an option for your company, the next thing the C-suite has to consider is what that experience will look like. How do you navigate it? How do you plan for it? How do you budget for it? What resources do you need in-house to manage and scale it? How do you build a business roadmap around it? These are a few of the questions I’ll address in my next blog.


Eric Bauswell is the Founder and CEO of Surfaceink. He and his team have helped Fortune 500 and start-up companies design, develop and deliver over $200B in  amazing products working with companies like global leaders such as Amazon, Apple, Broadcom, Cisco, Dell, Dolby, Fitbit, Google, HP, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Oculus, Pepsi, Plantronics, Qualcomm, and Tesla.

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Eric Bauswell

Founder and CEO

Eric began his career designing tractor mowers for Textron before landing in Silicon Valley where he was motivated by the challenge of fast-paced and industry leading design at Apple. As surfaceink grew, Eric expanded surfaceink to develop products for Palm, Flextronics, and Dell to name a few. He continues to be motivated by the creative challenges from Fortune 100 companies and emerging high-tech startups.


Chris Whittall

Director of Industrial Design

Chris works to ensure that client goals are realized through attractive and innovative design solutions. With over 20 years of experience as an industrial designer, Chris enjoys transforming complex technical challenges into beautiful and intuitive product solutions that deliver solid business results. Before joining surfaceink, Chris worked at Speck Design, Whipsaw, HP, Montgomery Pfeifer and GVO. Chris holds 45 U.S. design patents, and his work has been recognized by IDEA, Red Dot, Spark, IF, Chicago Athenaeum and Popular Mechanics.


Geoff Chatterton

Vice President of Software Engineering

Geoff is surfaceink’s VP of Software, and he loves seeing his award-winning products, including an Emmy and three times Best of CES, in the hands of millions of people around the world. With a focus on creating cutting-edge consumer experiences, his career has spanned 20 years across a mix of successful startups and top tier established companies including Apple, Dell, and PayPal. A recognized industry innovator, Geoff earned his undergraduate degree from MIT and has over 80 patents issued or pending.