A new survey conducted by Tech-Clarity for PTC shines a spotlight on what the players are calling the innovation complexity conundrum surrounding software-intensive products as more offerings industry-wide are putting more emphasis on software as a key differentiator.
Of the more than 100 companies interviewed for the survey, 53 percent said they were increasing significantly the software makeup of their products, and 57 percent said software was becoming a more integral element of their product design. Fifty-five percent said product differentiation was driven by software, and very few of the companies (2 percent) saw software lessening in importance over the next five years.
PTC and Tech-Clarity highlighted some key examples to illustrate this trend: Some car models are approaching 100,000 lines of code, and in the A&D sector, groups like NASA are seeing increases of up to 500 percent in software as a percentage of their programs. “Of the five industries we deal with most -- automotive, industrial equipment, A&D, medical devices, electronics and high tech -- software is what’s bringing about new capabilities,” said Matt Klassen, PTC’s director of solutions marketing for the Integrity business line.
There are compelling reasons to support this push toward software. Software-intensive products have proven more innovative and can be designed faster and at a lower cost. The survey results support this conventional wisdom. About three-quarters of respondents indicated they use software to improve product capabilities, specifically to make smarter, more innovative products. And 49 percent use software to tailor products to consumers or key markets.
Despite the clear benefits of software-intensive products, there is a price to pay on the development end, according to Jim Brown, president of Tech-Clarity. Increased use of software dramatically boosts product capabilities and can reduce costs, he said, but the complexity that goes along with managing more code can rear its ugly head and lead to poor quality, longer product development cycles, and inefficiencies. In fact, 56 percent of the survey respondents cited challenges around managing change as the biggest impediment to software-intensive product design.
“While there is a tremendous amount of benefit in developing products that take a lot of capabilities from the integration of software as opposed to mechanical parts or electronics, it also adds a tremendous amount of complexity,” Brown said in a Webinar in which he and PTC officials presented the survey results. “Software-driven change has relentless velocity and volume -- the sheer quantity is staggering. Nearly 90 out of every 100 changes come from software.”