Michael E. Porter, James E. Heppelmann (2014)
Information technology is revolutionizing products. Once composed solely of mechanical and electrical parts, products have become complex systems that combine hardware, sensors, data storage, microprocessors, software, and connectivity in myriad ways. These smart, connected products - made possible by vast improvements in processing power and device miniaturization and by the network benefits of ubiquitous wireless connectivity - have unleashed a new era of competition. Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is also disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do internally. Smart, connected products raise a broad set of new strategic choices for companies about how value is created and captured, how to work with traditional partners and what new partnerships will be required, and how to secure competitive advantage as the new capabilities reshape industry boundaries. For many firms, smart, connected products will force the fundamental question: What business am I in? This article provides a framework for developing strategy and achieving competitive advantage in a smart, connected world.
Published in Harvard Business Review