CEO of innovative project called “Simprints” Toby Norman used the phrase”graveyards of good intentions” to show that sometimesengineers create a product without target market or practical use. Even thoughit can have the most amazing engineering characteristics, it is likely to beunsuccessful in terms of popularity between customers. In order to achievedesired goals, engineers have to communicate with clients, do research,understand needs and learn from others’ experience.
Therefore, there are certainmethods to accomplish this. To beginwith, the key to successful project is not only to be concentrated with one’sown professional technical skills but also to be familiar with what ishappening around. That means it is important to get acquainted with otherpeople’s achievements and business stories. People who are involved insuccessful product development and manufacturing usually have both positiveexperience as well as practice about overcoming various challenges. It ishighly beneficial to listen to their mistakes and solutions made, analyse ifthose were the right choices or maybe ask oneself what could be done better. Theway to do this is to get in touch with those people as soon as one starts acareer or, ideally, while still studying at university.
For example, first yearEngineering students at University of Cambridge have two courses in the firstsemester called “Engineering Applications” and “The Engineer in Society”. Byattending lectures of the first one, students can listen to guest speakers whopresent their creations, talk about their business and reveal their keys tosuccess. For instance, well-known British inventor and entrepreneur John C.Taylor demonstrated some of his incredible inventions and shared his lifestory. Furthermore, “The Engineer in Society” guest speakers broaden students’understanding in projects where engineering combines with ethics,sustainability, entrepreneurship and economics. For instance, “Simprints” founderToby Norman introduced a fingerprint scanner. It was created to identify peopleand is particularly used by health care workers who lack proper patients’ identification.
The speaker not only talked about success of this creative invention but alsorevealed some difficulties he and his team resolved. To sum up, it is very usefulfor engineers to be familiar with others’ projects and business in order tolearn from their experience.Another point to make is that engineers cannot create aproduct by relying only on technical side.
In the beginning of materialisingthe idea, it is essential to do few more things and this cannot be done withoutcooperation with specialists like sociologists or researchers. It is needed tospecify the target market and do some research if there is certain demand. Inaddition, this analysis would show the opinion about the product, if peopleagree to pay certain price, if design is attractive or maybe there are too manysimilar products currently in shops. In 2002 German automaker Volkswagenpresented their new luxury car model named Phaeton which is relevant example tothis case. Engineers managed to manufacture this car with unbelievablecharacteristics and according to car enthusiast Jaren Rosenholtz, “it wasmasterpiece of engineering”1.Despite almost the most marvellous engineering solutions, this model was evendetrimental to Volkswagen. There were some crucial mistakes made by the companyin non-technical side. First of all, there was lack of research, hence, themodel was marketed to wrong demographic group.
To be more specific, they aimedto catch attention of luxury car buyers. Nevertheless, the latter preferred Mercedesor Lexus to Volkswagen which has general target group of 18-30 middle to upperclass people. Secondly, the attitude of those buyers could have been changed,but the dealership failed again by not investing in purchase specialists. Thesalesmen presented this new model near the old compact ones. That means clientsfelt treated the same no matter they spent £21,000 or £55,000. In the end, thecompany had loss of about £25,000 from each sold car. This example approvesthat to develop a successful project engineers cannot work without other specialistssuch as purchasing or marketing professionals.
One more vital aspect for this case is to have communicationwith customers based on feedback about the product. There are two ways to doit. First of all, convenient approach may be to give some sample products or releasedemo versions for people to use and test. This would help to investigate if theproduct is interesting and works as expected. In addition, it is a great chanceto reach a wider audience if, for instance, a blogger tries it and shares theexperience to one’s followers.
Second of all, the development should not stopafter introducing the product to the market. It is highly recommended to trackthe feedback from customers even after that. A short survey can reveal ifpeople like it, what they would modify or improve, what can be done better to makeit more affordable and attractive or any other things which engineers couldhave missed. This could help to develop later versions. For instance, TobyNorman shares that his key to success was repetition of building prototypes,getting feedback and testing. As a proof, 4.
48 million of mothers and childrenaround the world currently successfully use the fingerprint scanner. Tosummarise, the feedback, both from sample products or demo versions and after publicrelease, is extremely important.In conclusions, there are several ways for engineers tofully realise their ideas and create well-known and widely spread products. Firstly,it is necessary to get acquainted with other inventions and how other engineersmanaged to make them so attractive and useful. Secondly, it is essential tocommunicate with specialists like researchers or marketing professionals whowould provide knowledge about the target market and advices what people want.
Thirdly, it is highly recommended to have some feedback from customers as this canhelp in further development. 1 Jaren Rosenholtz2016, Is The VW Phaeton The Best Car InThe World, Or The Dumbest Waste Of Money EVER? Available at: http://www.carbuzz.com/news/2016/4/17/Is-The-VW-Phaeton-The-Best-Car-In-The-World-Or-The-Dumbest-Waste-Of-Money-EVER-7733094/