Main use of software is to improve product quality, study finds

by K C Krishnadas, TechOnline India - February 16, 2012

Most respondents significantly increased the amount of software, the importance of software and the innovation driven by software in their products

A study on 'Developing Software-Intensive Products' has revealed that most respondents have significantly increased the amount of software, the importance of software and the innovation driven by software in their products over the last five years.

The study by PTC and research and consulting firm Tech-Clarity found that nearly seventy five percent of the respondents intend to increase these efforts further over the next five years. 

The survey uncovers precise causes as to why companies are increasing the use of software in their products:  three-quarters indicate they use software in their products to improve product capabilities, two-thirds say they are seeking ‘smarter’ and more innovative products, and one-half say they use software to tailor products to customers or markets.  The top reasons companies are pursuing software-intensive products are competitive factors that drive the top line.

“This survey indicates a noteworthy trend in that companies have significantly increased the use of software in their products across all manufacturing industries, in both large and small companies. The biggest increases in both the amount of software and the level of innovation driven by that software were found in automotive and high-tech industries.  Another interesting discovery was that medical device manufacturers have increased the ratio of software engineers more than others, and 92% of the respondents in that industry say they plan to further increase software in their products over the next five years,” said Jim Brown, president, Tech-Clarity. 

The survey also discovered big challenges and negative business impacts resulting from product complexity.  For example, over half of the companies surveyed said they experience product quality issues when developing software-intensive products. They also reported delayed time to market, negative impacts of rework and high product development costs, and poor software development efficiency.  These findings were consistent across all size manufacturers.

Through its findings, the survey identified that companies with the following characteristics reported fewer significant, negative impacts when engineering products that include electrical, mechanical and software components when they:

• Had a unified or integrated team structure to develop products with electrical, mechanical and software components
• Made use of systems modeling techniques to get systems architecture right at beginning of development
• Made use of combined PLM and product-centric Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) initiatives for an integrated solution approacroduct Lifecycle Management (PLM) h to designing software-intensive products
“The use of software is exploding inside our customer’s products and is becoming the competitive differentiator in new product development,” said Matthew Klassen, director ALM solution marketing, PTC. 

The full report, Tech-Clarity Perspective: Developing Software-Intensive Products, can be found here and provides answers to these questions:

• What are the reasons behind the trend toward more product software?
• What are the top product strategies driving software use in products by industry?
• What are the challenges and the resulting business impacts?
• What can manufacturers do to organize for success?  Does taking a systems view help?
• What are the benefits of enabling software to design software intensive products?

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