Inspired by Peloton Bike+: How PLM Contributes to Smarter Product Innovation and Improved User Experience
NY-based company Peloton aims at revolutionizing connected, technology-enabled fitness with the streaming of immersive, instructor-led boutique classes for its members anytime, anywhere. Two weeks ago, they released an upgrade of their iconic cardio product, the Bike+; a technology-packed product acting as a portal for social connection and fitness self-motivation. Bringing to market smarter products and services require a combination of continuous innovation, manufacturing and supply chain collaboration, seamless PLM, MES and ERP integration, and robust quality control throughout.
In this post, we brainstorm about how PLM can contribute to smarter product development and improved user experience, such as opening the door to new cardio fitness experiences with the new Peloton Bike+.
How can PLM contribute to managing new product requirements gathered from customer feedback?
Any company looking at improving and growing their product and service portfolio will take great interest in gathering and acting upon customer feedback (including internal and external customers). Product issues and enhancement suggestions can be triaged and converted to change requests as part of a PLM requirement management solution, for the benefit of all functions across the product portfolio. In turn, when implemented in next product releases, these requirements will contribute to improved product quality, customer loyalty and engagement, as well as better experience and ultimately increased satisfaction (as per a vicious circle).
Strong with their 2.6+ million community users, Peloton clearly has a significant base for improvement feedback, from basic to advanced users and trainers. As such, with their Bike+ product, Peloton was apparently able to incorporate customer feedback from previous Bike users to enhance the fitness experience beyond cardio, into a full fitness experience, from stretch to yoga, meditation and immersive bootcamp.
How can PLM contribute to feature-rich product development and new technology integration?
Product attributes typically include connectivity, capabilities and performance, technology, compliance and other usability features (non-exhaustive list). PLM platforms contribute to managing design features, how they align to requirements, technology, cost, weight attributes. Data traceability can optimize time to search and access for data, reduce data duplication, improve supplier performance and quality management.
Product data typically include a lot of cross-functional information, from mechanical to electrical and software. As with every smart connected product, the software elements can continue to be enhanced and upgraded once the products are used in the field. More software contributes to new ways to sell product-related services.
New features can augment product and service attractiveness, with both existing customer base and new prospects. They also contribute to creating new service propositions to appeal with new customer groups and bring the “full fitness experience” to everyone’s home—which is probably a very attractive in the current COVID related social-distancing context.
New features on the Peloton Bike+ bring bigger, rotating HD touchscreen, luxury audio surround, auto-follow resistance, and Apple watch integration—bringing to consumers many additional reasons to use their new bike and maximize on their “home gym” investment.
How can PLM contribute to improving product quality and technology integration?
Product quality is somewhat driven by legislative health and safety requirements, but this is not it. PLM platforms typically double up as a Quality Management System to track issues and risks, assess and implement changes, collaborate real-time across the enterprise and with the supply chain. Cloud solutions enable further collaboration and real-time R&D or manufacturing feedback loops. Based on product manufacturing and assembly complexity, typically PLM and ERP systems link to MES solutions to simulate and optimize manufacturing execution, logistics, stock and cost management.
Integrating more technology into a product requires greater robust traceability to maintain the fleet in operation. Not only the products got smarter, but also the way their engineering, manufacturing and usage data are managed got smarter. Though that statement might sound taken from a marketing pitch, one can expect that PLM can contribute to new product innovation like the Peloton Bike+ in many ways:
Integrating suppliers early in the R&D process
Sourcing more efficiently suppliers and technologies
Tracking more closely cost, weight and other delivery attributes
Reducing the need of duplication by optimizing how drawings are updated from 3D and simulation models
Gathering operational data when in use to create new customer feedback loops, leveraging usage data from sensors and software in new services and operations.
How can PLM contribute to seamless product change management?
Effective delivery change management is what makes or break product margins and operations: the ability to track requirements, technical, commercial changed throughout the product or service lifecycle is what contributes to retaining and earning new customers.
Similarly, considering the Peloton Bike+, one can speculate that the product connectivity, finish quality, embedded evolutive service portfolio are what command a premium purchase and subscription fee. It concerns the ability to provide an end-user a new experience as a substitute to a full bootcamp session without removing the people factor which often helps with ongoing fitness motivation.
PLM can contribute to embedded changes seamlessly to existing and new product development cycles; as a common platform for continuous improvement. This is clearly a way to balance continuity of data and service, cost control and innovation across all functions (R&D, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, training services, field maintenance and operations).
How can PLM contribute to better collaboration, beyond R&D and manufacturing?
Multiple feedback loops and complex data management are core PLM principles and the foundation for Model-Based System Engineering (MBSE) about data traceability.
But PLM also contributes to seamless data alignment across non-technical functions, such as:
Sales and marketing can use digital product data to market the solution before the physical twin is complete.
They can use in-use data from end-users to propose and market new services (e.g. such as what Peloton has done with extended fitness bootcamps, beyond bike exercising).
Fitness providers can align new services connecting other mobility devices like smart phones and watches, introducing gamification incentives to increase attractiveness of their products and services.
Among other things, this is obviously something that Peloton must be leveraging as they market their new Bike+ and roll-out more connected services.
It is worth noting that there are a number of smart exercise bikes out there, from other brands such as Echelon, NordicTrack, ProForm or Whattbike; with various budget and connectivity levels.
As Chris Haslam from Wired put it:
“(…) the reason we rated the original Peloton Bike so highly isn’t the bike, but quality of the classes, the live interaction with fellow riders, the competition of the leader boards and the unfailingly upbeat instructors.”
“Yes, it’s cultish and the motivational mantras can irritate when you’re flagging, but each class is positive, punishing and – once you buy into it all – thoroughly enjoyable.”
Having said this, someone once told me that “the best exercise bike is the one that you use”; and the more one uses a product and service, the more detailed knowledge and expectations one might have about what works and what might be improved. Probably a similar mantra could apply to PLM:
“The best PLM platform is the one that you effectively use and continue to leverage to its full potential across the PLM discipline”.
This implies not getting “stuck in PDM” with seldom major upgrades every 5-10 years, but keeping current with the latest and greatest PLM advances (across the whole discipline—not just referring to digital platform improvements or new cloud hosted infrastructure options); balancing new capability introduction, new integration, new mobility usability, new licensing models, new processes, new ways of doing things and new ways of educating end-users, etc.