CEO of innovative project called “Simprints” Toby Norman used the phrase
“graveyards of good intentions” to show that sometimes
engineers create a product without target market or practical use. Even though
it can have the most amazing engineering characteristics, it is likely to be
unsuccessful in terms of popularity between customers. In order to achieve
desired goals, engineers have to communicate with clients, do research,
understand needs and learn from others’ experience. Therefore, there are certain
methods to accomplish this.

 

To begin
with, the key to successful project is not only to be concentrated with one’s
own professional technical skills but also to be familiar with what is
happening around. That means it is important to get acquainted with other
people’s achievements and business stories. People who are involved in
successful product development and manufacturing usually have both positive
experience as well as practice about overcoming various challenges. It is
highly beneficial to listen to their mistakes and solutions made, analyse if
those were the right choices or maybe ask oneself what could be done better. The
way to do this is to get in touch with those people as soon as one starts a
career or, ideally, while still studying at university. For example, first year
Engineering students at University of Cambridge have two courses in the first
semester called “Engineering Applications” and “The Engineer in Society”. By
attending lectures of the first one, students can listen to guest speakers who
present their creations, talk about their business and reveal their keys to
success. For instance, well-known British inventor and entrepreneur John C.
Taylor demonstrated some of his incredible inventions and shared his life
story. Furthermore, “The Engineer in Society” guest speakers broaden students’
understanding in projects where engineering combines with ethics,
sustainability, entrepreneurship and economics. For instance, “Simprints” founder
Toby Norman introduced a fingerprint scanner. It was created to identify people
and is particularly used by health care workers who lack proper patients’ identification.
The speaker not only talked about success of this creative invention but also
revealed some difficulties he and his team resolved. To sum up, it is very useful
for engineers to be familiar with others’ projects and business in order to
learn from their experience.

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Another point to make is that engineers cannot create a
product by relying only on technical side. In the beginning of materialising
the idea, it is essential to do few more things and this cannot be done without
cooperation with specialists like sociologists or researchers. It is needed to
specify the target market and do some research if there is certain demand. In
addition, this analysis would show the opinion about the product, if people
agree to pay certain price, if design is attractive or maybe there are too many
similar products currently in shops. In 2002 German automaker Volkswagen
presented their new luxury car model named Phaeton which is relevant example to
this case. Engineers managed to manufacture this car with unbelievable
characteristics and according to car enthusiast Jaren Rosenholtz, “it was
masterpiece of engineering”1.
Despite almost the most marvellous engineering solutions, this model was even
detrimental to Volkswagen. There were some crucial mistakes made by the company
in non-technical side. First of all, there was lack of research, hence, the
model was marketed to wrong demographic group. To be more specific, they aimed
to catch attention of luxury car buyers. Nevertheless, the latter preferred Mercedes
or Lexus to Volkswagen which has general target group of 18-30 middle to upper
class people. Secondly, the attitude of those buyers could have been changed,
but the dealership failed again by not investing in purchase specialists. The
salesmen presented this new model near the old compact ones. That means clients
felt treated the same no matter they spent £21,000 or £55,000. In the end, the
company had loss of about £25,000 from each sold car. This example approves
that to develop a successful project engineers cannot work without other specialists
such as purchasing or marketing professionals.

One more vital aspect for this case is to have communication
with customers based on feedback about the product. There are two ways to do
it. First of all, convenient approach may be to give some sample products or release
demo versions for people to use and test. This would help to investigate if the
product is interesting and works as expected. In addition, it is a great chance
to reach a wider audience if, for instance, a blogger tries it and shares the
experience to one’s followers. Second of all, the development should not stop
after introducing the product to the market. It is highly recommended to track
the feedback from customers even after that. A short survey can reveal if
people like it, what they would modify or improve, what can be done better to make
it more affordable and attractive or any other things which engineers could
have missed. This could help to develop later versions. For instance, Toby
Norman shares that his key to success was repetition of building prototypes,
getting feedback and testing. As a proof, 4.48 million of mothers and children
around the world currently successfully use the fingerprint scanner. To
summarise, the feedback, both from sample products or demo versions and after public
release, is extremely important.

In conclusions, there are several ways for engineers to
fully realise their ideas and create well-known and widely spread products. Firstly,
it is necessary to get acquainted with other inventions and how other engineers
managed to make them so attractive and useful. Secondly, it is essential to
communicate with specialists like researchers or marketing professionals who
would provide knowledge about the target market and advices what people want.
Thirdly, it is highly recommended to have some feedback from customers as this can
help in further development.

1 Jaren Rosenholtz
2016, Is The VW Phaeton The Best Car In
The 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/