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Silicon Scarcity is a Golden Opportunity for Smart Product Development

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Starting your IoT product's development earlier means being ahead of the curve in manufacturing when chip supplies replenish. While your competitors are fumbling toward an MVP, you'll be striding forward with a strategic smart product offering customers genuinely want. For those in the know, they're fast-tracking those initiatives now.

The Situation

When the silicon shortage first surfaced, many hardware developers panicked. The shortage is a black swan event created from a perfect storm of just-in-time logistics (JIT), limited production facilities concentrated in one small geographic region, and increased pressure from demand. However, there’s a silver lining for leaders looking towards digital transformation. With Industry 4.0 looming, the silicon shortage could prove to be a boon of growth for companies moving toward IoT and connected devices.

The Current Challenge

Taking stock of the landscape, there’s a pressure cooker of common difficulties escalating revolutionary change in logistics. Among the biggest stressors are problems we all know well: loss of time and loss of money. The tech industry’s development process was already slow, and now with the chip shortage, it's getting even slower. The high cost of entry to build quality silicon chips keeps new manufacturers from entering the market which in turn has caused mounting concerns and nightmare logistic issues, (like those in the consumer car industry). 

If you’re in the middle of a stalled product development project right now you’re acutely feeling those pains, (and we’re truly sorry).

The Challenge: Technology product development leaders need to build scalable products while remaining adaptable to volatile markets or be left behind.

It's difficult to stay competitive and increase ROI when the market continues to rapidly change. Likewise, market volatility is prompting the tech industry’s brightest leaders to examine opportunities that more easily navigate new territories. Digital transformation initiatives are at an all-time high and are expected to add $100 trillion to the world economy by 2025.

For industry leaders, there are only two viable paths out of the chip shortage: 

  1. Put product development efforts on hold until there is more certainty in the supply chain. Risk killing profitability and scaling.

  2. Lean into rapidly increasing consumer demand and expectations for smart technologies. Use stalled time to get ahead of the coming wave of IoT product development and stay there.

The Golden Opportunity

Being early to the market allows companies forging ahead to gather feedback, iterate faster, and outclass competition that is bogged down in development. But it's not enough to simply start a project. You need Agile methodologies and a deeply knowledgeable team with experience across multiple disciplines. You also need to start now.

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Agile Methods Solve for Changing Conditions in Hardware: Agile’s reactive feedback helps companies navigate rapidly changing landscapes, giving companies a vital runway to adapt. If, and when, the supply chain breaks again, Agile practitioners won’t be blocked or slowed in their progress. And yes, even hardware can benefit from Agile methodologies thanks to constant feedback loops that allow for faster flexibility.

Flexibility in hardware, with the ability to swap out components piece by piece, hands companies back the power to experiment with a variety of different platforms when they hit an unplanned dead end. This is a huge bonus when staring down an unexpected issue, such as the silicon shortage or other supply chain disruption.

blog2Due to the silicon shortage, faulty chips have slipped through manufacturer’s QA and entered the market. Hardware engineers at Very were able to identify which chips are faulty using Agile methodologies.  

Side note: We’ve recently talked with vendors who have purchased off-the-shelf solutions that they couldn’t source due to the silicon shortage. Reacting to low quantities, leaders have rushed to create similar products without having to scrap their entire system. It drives home how important hardware flexibility is. It offers back the ability to focus on software systems that aren’t as affected while being able to swap out different hardware options based on availability. 

Having access to that flexibility gives a product the advantage to evolve over time and exist on multiple platforms. Whether that need arises from technological advancements or other potential shortages, it’s easy to see how advantageous it is to adopt this methodology. 

Expert Tip: To increase success, (and safeguard profitability), agile hardware practitioners should always have a high-quality fleet management system. Don’t get stuck swapping one costly roadblock for another. A good fleet management system allows you to deploy and serve a wide variety of platforms and architectures and keep things running smoothly. It offers all the flexibility needed without being weighed down by maintaining it all.

An Additional Benefit: Faster Ramping with Earlier User Feedback. By designing and prototyping early, you can leverage user feedback and real-world data. Having real customer feedback along the development process carves out a strong path towards profitability. Additionally, early user feedback provides proof and assurance that the product that goes to market is one your customers truly want to purchase, increasing launch success rates and reducing risk.

Conclusion

Accelerating product development time is crucial for staying competitive in today’s volatile and demanding market. If your product is stuck in its developmental cycle, it’s vital to consider future-proofing the process to stay ahead of the curve.

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Thinking ahead, leaders need to be creative with how they pivot. They’ll need a team that mitigates risk, develops outside the box, and has multiple skill redundancies and experience. Rapid iteration requires several stages of testing, breaking, coding, and development that are needed to accelerate agile hardware. Success is built with a team that has acumen across platforms and a multitude of differing systems. The team will need to have the experience to quickly identify the answers to challenging questions when they arise. 

Choosing a strategic agile development organization that partners with you in delivering high ROI solutions for your customers is tangentially tied to future IoT product success. When examining who can go to market quickly, even amid shortages and market volatility, the question should be, “How do we retain the highest quality solution provider who also understands digital transformation?” If you’re ready to get started on the next great IoT product, we’d love to hear from you.

Turn Your Awesome Ideas Into Award-Winning Smart Devices 

Want to know more about how we build iteratively with agile IoT? Learn more about our IoT product development services.

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