In our February 13, 2012, “Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement” report, we talked about the important link between smart products and mobile apps. A key to that link is creating a smart product application programming interface (API) that allows third parties to easily write apps that tap into the data feeds from the connected offerings, extending the value of that product with an “app ecosystem.”
As a precursor to an upcoming report that will lay out the smart connected product landscape and the unique combination of IT and product development skills required to build them, Forrester interviewed Cédric Hutchings, the general manager of Withings, a leader in the connected medical device segment.
The highlights of the discussion with Cédric included:
Company vision. The company seeks to improve the value of everyday devices through connectivity and apps.
Role of API. An API enables different services that could not be built in-house; it makes it easy for third parties to get data flow and integrate it into app. As a result, Withings has an ecosystem of more than 40 third-party apps that integrate with its Wi-Fi-connected bathroom scale.
Cloud value proposition. A personal wellness data dashboard allows consumers to manage health across a range of devices and inputs/apps from Withings and other companies.
Smart product skill requirements. These requirements include a mix of user experience, embedded software/product development talent, traditional IT web, database and middleware competencies, and partner management liaison capabilities.
Two weeks ago at the CSC analyst conference, Forrester sat down with new CEO and President Mike Lawrie. He was refreshingly frank about what the issues were and his road ahead. Based on his due diligence before taking the job, Mike concluded that the firm had the right strategy; it just could not execute. The overlying issue was the GE-style operating model that had every service line as its own P&L and was not focused on delivering an integrated solution to the client. Executive compensation and goals were misaligned and uncoordinated. The other factor that exacerbated these organization and alignment issues was a management model that would not make tough decisions and fostered the one-off solution culture.
Mike says that he has agreed with the board that it will take three plus years to turn the company around and fully establish itself as a leader. He sees it as a three-phase evolution. First, he needs to get the company fit – lowering operating costs by a billion dollars/year and improving margins and the bottom line. With the financial house in order, he will then focus on growing the business by focusing on key opportunities like next-generation cloud-based infrastructure services and vertical software solutions. And the third phase of the reinvention will focus on leveraging leadership within those key segments.
Toward these goals, Mike is bringing in new leadership to fill roles in key areas like CFO, infrastructure outsourcing, and Federal systems. He will also be following Accenture’s lead by creating a separate software group with the true product discipline to actively compete in the vertical applications space and update its current packages. He will also simplify the offerings and build the size and capabilities of the sales organization.