Physical Product Evolution

Physical evolution of products is the primary method for appearing to be continually churning out new physical products. FMCG companies used to be considered the experts in repackaging the same goods as a new product. Nokia became totally reliant on physical product evolution, and we all know how that turned out.

Even Apple are starting to fall into this trap: iPad, iPad2, iPad3, iPad4, mini iPad…

A new product should not just be a cosmetic change, as your customers will quickly detect the decreasing value of your new product line. Have you mapped out customer usage, expectations and your ability to deliver the next product the customer wants? The complexity increases dramatically as you attempt to do this over a number of product lines.

Sky had a real challenge as their product portfolio evolved.

A large range of disparate digiboxes and an increasing number of Sky+ models, required rationalisation, cost reduction and improved product development. To aid this we reduced the key hardware suppliers to three and enforced a common design specification for the Digibox range and for Sky+ v3 and beyond. We also introduced a 5 stage product development process. Up until that point, Sky had no formal product development process, and relied heavily on suppliers to inspire and drive the development of new products. The product development process allowed every stakeholder at Sky to participate in the process via regular product development reviews. The process also allowed Sky to make better use of the limited internal resources. Considering that Sky+ has such a significant effect on customer retention, a team of 30 engineering staff and 30 testers would strike other companies as being quite light. Thus there was a lot of effort expended in putting in a programme management philosophy that allowed resources to be allocated as commercial priorities dictated. The end result was a sustainable, repeatable, cost effective product development and management cycle.

Images courtesy of Nokia & Freedom Devices Ltd.