Product intelligence

Product intelligence

Going forward, smart devices and smart services will be powered by product intelligence – shortened lifecycle for product innovation, exploring product data to find the hidden value and real-time analytics

G H Rao

The idea of collecting information from the usage pattern of customers is not new and has been practiced for many years now. As technology increasingly proliferated in our lives, market research gave way to business intelligence and that in some industries is giving way to ‘product intelligence’. The term ‘product intelligence’ was coined way back in 2002, however it is only now that the technology backbone has become robust enough to enable it and the business needs of today justify its rapid adoption. Increased scope and complexity of product ecosystem lead to a need for automated system for monitoring and analysis of product performance.

We’re all well aware of the looming pressures of failure of new product launches – HBR reports that 70 per cent to 90 per cent of them don’t stay on store shelves for more than 12 months, a report from Nielsen showed that new products generally have only a 10 per cent chance of succeeding and Booz & Company reports that 66 per cent of new products fail within two years. Product Intelligence comes to the rescue in such a grim scenario by ensuring that the product/solution aligns with customer needs by providing access to customer usage patterns, exposing customer perception and revealing the competitive positioning of the product in the market. Product intelligence generates new data feeds through data mining in smart devices. These data feeds go into predictive analytics data warehouses and can be provisioned as smart services for customer consumption. These insights aid in failure prediction, performance optimization and development of next-gen features arising out of customer demands based on usage information gathered through product intelligence. Upcoming streams of data analysis, forecasting, sensitivity analysis and predictive analytics come within the ambit of product intelligence.


Product Intelligence ensures that the product/solution aligns with customer needs by providing access to customer usage patterns, exposing customer perception and revealing the competitive positioning of the product in the market.


Product intelligence is expected to be a booming market between 2015 and 2020. According to a new market research report published by MarketsandMarkets, Business Intelligence and Analytics Software Market is expected to grow from U.S. $17.90 billion in 2015 to U.S. $26.78 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4 per cent.

The key reasons behind this rapid traction are manifold. Software release cycles have always been getting shorter; however it is now that they are reaching a point (often being days or even hours) where usage data collection needs to be real time and feedback incorporation needs to be efficient or better automated to align the tighter product cycles to the constantly evolving customer demands. Such frequent releases also lead to rapidly shrinking product lifecycles. Bringing intelligence to the lifecycle will reduce costs of sustenance and accelerate time to market by fostering a quick decision-making mechanism with the aid of actionable insights. These insights give real-time visibility into each stage of product development and also enable predictability, which in turn facilitates efficient planning in the development work and better tracking of the release progress. Product intelligence has the power to turn usage data into business decisions.

This trend is now percolating to physical products as well where software, which was earlier tightly integrated with the hardware, is getting decoupled thereby facilitating more frequent upgrades based on usage data. This is getting further accelerated due to large adoption of cloud-based platforms instead of on-premise software. A cloud-based product intelligence platform enables rapid development, lower development costs and high performance analytics with real-time access to data.

According to Gartner, 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015. With the increasing impact of IoT, built-in intelligence and connectivity will become the new standard. The previously passive objects will now be reinvented with digitalization well equipped with an enhanced sense of communicating. These smart devices will be powered by cognitive computing or machine-generated learning.

As market embraces IoT and platform-enabled solutions, the evolving ecosystem will witness a nexus between the physical and the digital worlds. Smart devices and smart services will be powered by product intelligence – accelerating product innovation, exploring product data to find the hidden value, real-time analytics driven by emerging technologies. Unabated advancement in data sciences is ushering product development and management into the era of product intelligence, deeply impacting each phase of the product lifecycle, thus providing an opportunity to align one’s products or services offering to meet customer expectations by focusing on features and functionality appropriate for their usage patterns.


About the Author: G.H. Rao is the President – Engineering Services (ERS) of HCL Technologies Ltd. He has been instrumental in building test/compliance labs and teardown labs at HCL, a unique in Indian private Industry, which has enabled HCL to offer comprehensive Concept to Manufacturing solutions (C2M) to leading OEMs and Tier 1s.