Harvest usage data
Harvesting usage data means collecting information on how a product is used by its users to improve product development and operations, create an offering based on user profiling or make preparations for new revenue streams.
Why consider it?
The moment a product leaves the factory floor, most manufacturers lose all connection with it. However, in the last five years, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of smart (connected) products. This connectivity is making it economically feasible to collect information about what each individual user is doing with a product at each moment of the day.
Harvesting usage data is an investment in the careful construction of a new type of digital asset: a product's usage data. Although the investment may be significant, the yield can be very high and have an impact on several strategic areas of a company.
- Improvement of product development and operations. Remotely capturing and analysing products' usage data enables product builders to improve and customise their future product and operation designs.
- An offering based on user profiling. Access to (real-time) usage data enables product builders to offer new types of highly personalised product functionality.
- Prepare for future new revenue streams: This new asset enables product builders to deploy a variety of new services such as predictive maintenance, customised remote support, automated ordering of consumables, and so on.
What does it involve?
A decision needs to be made about which type of usage data to collect (usage data modelling). In what format will the data be collected? Is it real-time data? Can the required quality of the data be guaranteed? Typically a trade-off must be made between collecting usage data that the company can use immediately and data that might be useful in future innovation scenarios (= anticipating the future).
The product needs to break out of its local connectivity and must be able to interact (directly or indirectly) with the outside world to create a feedback loop to the manufacturer. Monitoring the usage data might require (additional) sensors to be integrated into the physical product, which can impact the product design and manufacturing processes. Infrastructure needs to be put in place to transfer and store the harvested data in a secure and scalable way.
Once the used data is harvested, it has to be turned into value for the company. This might require using data-analytics and artificial-intelligence techniques.
Do not forget to take care of the legal aspects that allow usage data to be collected (e.g. privacy, data ownership, liabilities and SLAs).