The news is always on units sold and revenues posted. What happens behind the scenes, however, when returned products become a major issue? Accenture, conducting a research and analysis project, just found out.
The company uncovered three huge problems that increasingly challenge the wireless industry:
An alarming number of cell phones and networking equipment in good working order are returned seemingly based upon the complexity of the products.
A resulting issue is the tremendous current cost and burgeoning future cost of these returns to the industry. In 2007, the research found that consumer electronics will spend $13.8 billion on product returns just in the U.S., with high-end cell phones (smartphones) and Wi-Fi-enabled wireless networking equipment topping the list.
Embedded software, widely used in stand-alone wireless devices also represents severe challenges with the top three being the quality of software testing, the lack of collaboration within the industry, and a typical complaint--the late delivery of embedded software products and services.
So, why isn't anyone talking about this? If complexity is driving returns, are we headed down the right path? Maybe since Accenture is becoming verbal, others will follow. What's your take on this? How much of a financial impact is it having on individual companies and the industry in general? Please send comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get a discussion going.
Isn't it sad? The industry is spending billions of dollars on things nobody really wants. The result is a huge waste of resources, comparable with the credit crisis created by greedy banks offering loans with no verified backing. There is a similarity here. We must change the mindset. Quality is not a bunch of complex features but something that gives value over and over again. Sound engineering principles apply. Of course, in the short run, money is made with selling unuseable features and maybe that's needed for developing new technology. But in the long term, the industry is in trouble. These "gadgets" are becoming n essential ingredient of our daily life. They must work or they are useless. "Must work" also means that the human interfce must be well thought out. Engineering is the art of bringing all aspects to a good end. E.g. Apple' success is largely due to the 'easy to use" experience. It only works becuase the underlying technology works and is reliable. But what is the battery runs out after 3 months and not being replaceble, you have to turn in your phone for 2 weeks ? Apple's nice margins would melt like snow. Good engineering requires a consistent methodology and it is a challenge to get all aspects right. Bad advisors are greed and short term revenue. Formalising helps and is good engineering practice. Time to convince maangers that a working demo is not a product yet.