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Is There a New Way Ahead for Electronics Enterprise? Part 3

Previously, we looked at the shift from long-term to shorter-term goals in the design and manufacturer of technology-based products. We started looking at the change in philosophy regarding the way companies act towards and interact with their customers

A new way
These changes in core company functions lead to new possibilities for electronics enterprise. The current trend is one of predatory design, causing hostility between users and designers. Engineers decide what is to be built and users suffer the consequences. They have no choice. There is often no alternative business paradigm.

(Source: Apple)

(Source: Apple)

Predatory designs are optimized to maximize repeat sales, with short product lifetimes caused by design shortcuts that increase profit margins at the expense of product quality, and by frequent product iterations with superficial feature changes to motivate users to buy a new one.

Minimum product information is available. User manuals are released having poor grammar and lacking essential technical information. Interactive human user support and repair is minimal to non-existent. The user is expected to discard the broken unit and buy another one. Valuable trash accumulates in landfills.

The stage is set for this hostility between designers and users to resolve itself in an alternative way of doing electronics. Although hostility originates with corporate management, which directs engineers to design in this way, the engineers are the ones who freely choose to go along with them and are equally if not more culpable, for without the compliant participation of engineers in predatory design, the hostility would not arise.

Now suppose some innovative engineers were to design to H-P/Tek quality and follow their production refinement process. They could bring forth a set of generally appealing products, either for commercial or industrial applications. Suppose the designs are for an entire line of measurement instruments.

These instruments have medium-range performance so that the appeal for them is mainstream and broad. The engineers then do something bold. They take all the risk at this point in making these designs openly accessible and free to be used by anyone wanting to manufacture, sell, and support them. They just “give away the store,” or so it would seem. What would happen? What are the consequences?

That is what we will explore in the next part of this blog.

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7 comments on “Is There a New Way Ahead for Electronics Enterprise? Part 3

  1. etnapowers
    December 2, 2013

    “Engineers decide what is to be built and users suffer the consequences. They have no choice. There is often no alternative business paradigm.”

    This is a common practise, but it should not work like that. Engineers should take their decisions  supported by technical  marketing people, in order to individuate the customers needs and decide what to build.

  2. samicksha
    December 4, 2013

    I am not sure but i guess its not engineer who decide what is to be built, rather it is more dependent on various survey and polls taken by idependent channels which further helps in deciding about requirement from cutomer.

  3. etnapowers
    December 5, 2013

    @samicksha: the risk that is related to the process of a non-engineer taking a technical decision, is that the project is impossible to be implemented or it cannot function as well as the customer requires. I think that engineers should be at least involved in the decisional process and they should not only pander the decision of the non engineer management.

  4. samicksha
    December 7, 2013

    We really cannot commit this, i guess it is not always that an non-engineer is taking decision. I do agree with you that engineers are not involved in decisional process, rather they should but might be some other management prospect.

  5. RedDerek
    December 30, 2013

    I have seen that engineers want to design and do continual improvement. But this is clearly not a good business plan for much money is wasted in “improvements” that really may not be necessary.

    The marketing people tend to promise, or create, ideal products that are not feasible to be designed.

    It takes that technical marketing person to bridge the gap between what the market will want and buy, to the enginnering side as to what is feasible at a reasonable development cost.

  6. Netcrawl
    December 31, 2013

    @Samicksha its a bad idea to see a non engineers doing most of the technical decision process, they know the job very well and they got the knowledge when in comes to technical issues, what we need here is some engineer's participation in some key decision making, especially in technical side.

  7. Netcrawl
    December 31, 2013

    @RedDerek Good point, engineers' main task is to seek better ways how to improve products and innovate, sometimes engineers have no clear view of what exactly the market need, bridging the gap between the marketing side ang engineering side could be a good idea, I think the two need to work closely

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