Encouraging Innovation in South Carolina

Organizations in South Carolina are working hard to encourage innovation. If you visit the South Carolinas Council on Competitiveness you can read about the “New Ideas for a New Carolina 2007” contest.

“Tell us your big idea. We want ideas for business that stoke your fire, blow your mind, show your get-up-and-take-charge of-my-dream spirit. Your idea could bring new jobs, new energy, new talents, new life, and new wealth to South Carolina. Help us declare independence from mediocrity. Help us encourage innovators and celebrate the courageous. Help us create a NEW Carolina. New Ideas for A New Carolina South Carolinas Business Idea Competition. So what are you waiting for?”

Does this really encourage innovation in South Carolina? It definitely adds to the popular interest level for innovation. As I read closer, I realized that the prize wasnt for the best new product. The contest is for the best new business idea.

Having a contest for the best business idea (instead of new product) is definitely a good approach. However, I am concerned that this really doesnt strengthen business in South Carolina. The contest helps out individuals who are selected as winners to get publicity for their business concept. It also elevates the concept that product / business development is good for South Carolina.

My suggestion is to provide training before the contest. Teach people how to develop business and product concepts. Then follow up with how to start the business and find funding. Classes in managing the development of a product would also be helpful. Teaching the basics of iterative product design would help a greater number of entrepreneurs and product developers than the contest itself. Assign a volunteer mentor to each entrant for two years. Maybe start with two thousand entries. Offer classes for two years. Then highlight the businesses that have made the most progress (you pick the metric). I will admit that it sounds dangerously close to a reality show. It would be wonderful to see contests like this result in thousands of new businesses launching new products. That would significantly impact the regional economy for decades.

Enabling a passion for introducing new products takes education, mentoring and support from a local design community. As I get to the end of this dialog, I find myself wondering how our chapter (Carolinas chapter) is doing at accomplishing this goal in North and South Carolina. I dont have to wonder long, because our chapter isnt inspiring thousands of new products or new businesses. Is it because North and South Carolina is a bad place for new businesses and products? Is it because we are an inactive chapter? The answer to both is “no”. We have an active chapter in a thriving business community. What can our chapter to do be a product development leader in the Carolinas? Is that too big of a mandate for a local chapter? I dont think so, now we just have to figure out how to do it and have the determination to make it happen.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please dont hesitate to send me an e-mail at montie@montie.com or leave a comment below.

Cheers,
Montie Roland
President, Carolinas Chapter of the PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
President – Montie Design (www.montie.com)
Home of the NC Product Design Directory

Upcoming PDMA Event in Cary on 18 Apr — Systematic Innovation

Morning,

I thought this might interest many of you. The event is taught by the Brand Manager of Lenovo. You can sign up at http://pdma2.eventbrite.com. More information about the event is available at www.pdma.org/carolinas. Detailed information about the event follows.

Cheers,
Montie

————————————————————–

We take networking seriously and innovation is a lot of fun, so what could be better than combining the two?

Join us for an evening of networking and innovation. The evening will begin with beer, pizza, and business card exchange, then we will get an introduction to Systematic Innovation, and then we will split into teams and have some fun innovating some products. Those who have most fun will even win a prize!

About Systematic Innovation (SI): some call it innovation by templates and there is some truth to that even though on the surface the notions of templates and creativity appear to be an oxymoron. However, when you think about it, we may subconsciously use learned templates in our creative thinking anyway. SI techniques attempt to come up with such templates and they can be quite effective tools in stimulating creative thinking that result in innovative solutions. A most visible SI technique is TRIZ, a technique used by companies such as Ford, Procter & Gamble, Eli Lilly, 3M, and Samsung.

This session will be led by Stacey Baer from Lenovo and Shimon Shmueli from Touch360.
See bios below.

Who Should Attend Product managers, engineers, designers, and marketing managers.

Date

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

 

 

Stacey Baer, Ph.D., Lenovo

Currently the corporate Brand Manager of the international PC manufacturer Lenovo, Staceys primary responsibilities are to manage the Lenovo and ThinkPad brands. Her responsibilities also include branding strategies, product & brand naming, and trademark management.

Stacey received a BA in Psychology in 1986 from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, and then went on to get a Masters of Science (1989) and Doctoral degree (1996) in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Kentucky.

Stacey was hired by the PC division of IBM in 1992 as the lead Human Factors engineer for IBMs PC brands. Her product responsibilities over the next few years included the PS/2, Aptiva and then the ThinkPad brands.

In 1998, Stacey became the first Customer Experience Strategist for the IBM company. She had world-wide responsibility for defining end-to-end customer experience strategies, first for all ThinkPad products and then later for all the PC Divisions customer-facing device brands.

In 2003, Stacey received an Executive MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She became the WW Brand Manager of IBMs PC Division, and then the Corporate Brand Manager for Lenovo after the PC Division was sold to Lenovo in 2005.

 

Shimon Shmueli, Touch360

Shimon is the founder of Touch360 where he leads product development, innovation and design, and technology and business strategies.

Before founding Touch360, Shimon was with IBM, where he held various leadership positions, among them as worldwide marketing segment manager for PC products, worldwide product manager for the ThinkPad line of consumer notebooks and accessories, and leading the development of new mobile platforms.

Shimon was a co-founder and CTO at KeyNetica, a company that pioneered the use of the USB Flash Drive as a mobile platform. He also served as a marketing and business strategy consultant and as adjunct professor at George Mason University where he taught graduate marketing classes.

Shimon holds an engineering degree from the Technion in Israel; an MSEE/CS degree from Polytechnic in New York; and an MBA from Wake Forest University. Always a student, he is currently pursuing graduate studies in industrial design at North Carolina State University.

Shimon has been a speaker and mentor in various forums, including Taiwan Design Center, Johns Hopkins University, and Virginia Tech School of Architecture & Design. He is a professional member of IDSA, IEEE, HFES, DMI, and PDMA.

PDMA Event on 22 Feb in RTP, NC on Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property – The Top 10 Things You Need to be Aware of When Developing and Bringing a New Product to Market

The Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development and Management Association invites you to kick off its 2007 professional program and tackle the important issue of intellectual property with Tracy-Gene Durkin, Director of renowned Washington-DC IP law firm Sterne Kessler Goldstein Fox.

Using case studies, Tracy will highlight the problems that arise when intellectual property issues are not considered in advance and fully integrated in the product development process. She will cover topics including joint development, protecting product configuration, and protecting IP internally, critical dates to keep in mind in the patent process, and proper documentation of invention dates, among others.

We will have in-house perspective as well from a Durham-based organization that helps pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Please join us to exchange points of views and build relationships with your peers as well as gain insights from our speaker:

Tracy-Gene G. Durkin, is a director in and heads the Mechanical Patent and Trademark Group of Sterne Kessler Goldstein Fox. She has over twenty years of experience obtaining and enforcing worldwide intellectual property rights, including utility and design patents, trademarks and copyrights. Ms. Durkins client counseling experience includes helping clear new products and trademarks for use in the marketplace, selecting appropriate IP protection, and enforcing such protection through mediation, litigation and licensing. Ms. Durkin has spoken internationally on topics such as design patents, IP audits, mediation, IP protection on the Internet, and trademark co-branding and licensing for non profit organizations. She is Chair of the Industrial Design Committee for the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and a member of the Industrial Designs Committee of the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Who Should Attend

Product managers, engineers, designers, and business managers. This event qualifies as 2 Professional Development Hours toward PDMAs NPDP recertification.

Date Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Time Networking & Registration 6-6:45 pm; Presentation and Q&A 6:45 8:00 pm; Pizza and drinks.

Location MNMC Auditorium, 3021 Cornwallis Rd, Research Triangle Park (Durham), NC 27709.

Fees $20 members, $35 non-members, $10 students and volunteers. $10 additional for walk-in. Cash or check only. Fees include handouts.

Registration Online at http://pdma.eventbrite.com

Follow Up to “Camping as a Product”

Hiking on Mount Mitchell

View from the Gap Trail on Mount Mitchell in North Carolina

Morning,

This podcast is in response to some of the e-mails that I received about the earlier podcast about “Camping From The Viewpoint Of A Product Designer. Both of the audio segments below address learning points from the discourse on camping as a product. The audio was recorded in two different days. My plan was to make one long podcast. However, the two different recordings took two different directions, so I decided to make two podcasts from them. If you havent listened to the earlier podcast on camping, you might want to do that before diving into these.

Have a great Monday!

Sincerely,
Montie Roland

President – Montie Design (www.montie.com)
President, Carolinas Chapter of the PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
Home of the NC Product Design Directory

Balancing Vision and Process

Process may be king in our industry, but vision is the treasury behind the throne room. Product developers can find detailed processes in books, or even from internal ISO procedures. Executing that process is one of the difficult parts of managing product development.

Vision, is almost a dirty word at times. Vision can blind you. Vision can guide you. Vision can lead you to the most successful product your organization has ever had.

Balancing vision and process is extremely important for long term success. The attached podcast (17 minutes, 9 seconds in length) discusses this issue. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. You can leave them here, or send an email to montie@montie.com.

Have a Great Day!

Montie Roland

President – Montie Design (www.montie.com)
President, Carolinas Chapter of the PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
Home of the NC Product Design Directory

Three Consumer Trends

Morning,

I received an e-mail last night from a fellow product developer. He is Taiwan giving a talk about “Design for Experience” and designing electronics for the American consumer market. He posed the following question:

Can you identify, from your own intuition or knowledge, top 2-3 customer behavior or cultural trends that affect the US consumer when buying electronic products? Just as an example, are Americans becoming less brand-loyal because they have more comparison data available to them?

Responding to his e-mail resulted in the following thoughts about trends and the American consumer:

Dissatisfaction with Overly Complex Products

These are products that arent well designed. They have difficult interfaces; probably where some engineer demanded a whole bunch of extra features at the expense of usability. They may also be products where the designers and engineers didnt have a vision for an easy-to-use product, i.e. they didnt design for experience.

ABC News reported that “complexity causes 50% of product returns”. They went on to say:

The average consumer in the United States will struggle for 20 minutes to get a device working, before giving up, the study found.

Product developers, brought in to witness the struggles of average consumers, were astounded by the havoc they created.

She also gave new products to a group of managers from consumer electronics company Philips, asking them to use them over the weekend. The managers returned frustrated because they could not get the devices to work properly.

Most of the flaws found their origin in the first phase of the design process: product definition, Den Ouden found.

The entire article can be read at:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/print?id=1691901

When this happens, products get returned (which is horribly expense to the manufacturer and the reseller). When a customer returns a difficult to use product, it is likely they will try a less expense model (with less features / complexity).

New is Better Mentality

This a potential trap is a trap for product designers and manufacturers. If you are a manufacturer and you assume that your product will have a usable lifetime of two years, then you will have some percentage of products that just plain wear out before then. This leads customers to believe that it was a crappy product and they may look for another manufacturers product when they replace the item. This is a trend that I believe is hurting Apple in the MP3 market. This is a very competitive market where word about their product failures (not many, but enough) has given them a black eye at the time when some people (new is better folks) are considering upgrading their players. Apple has a great product, but their product failures (less than 2% of products) are widely known. These failures are often an excuse for teenagers who want to move to the “new is better” (i.e. the Zune).

Culture of the Online Review is Here

There a now many websites that allow consumers to review the products that they purchase. However, this open environment can be a double-edged sword. Apple actually allows product reviews and discussions on the www.apple.com website. If you dont embrace your user group, then it is likely that some ambitious webmaster will (and you lose the ability to do it on your own in a meaningful way). The internet is here, online reviews are here to stay. Here are some ways that you can make the most of the opportunities:

A) Allow negative remarks

Every so often, Clark Howard (a radio personality at www.clarkhoward.com) reads some of the negative remarks from his forums on the radio. Many of his listeners are extremely loyal. This type of transparent behavior, on his part, only substantiates the philosophy of customer service and company tranparency (when it comes to customers) that he preaches.

B) Respond to criticism with product improvements

If you make design changes (of the next round of products) based on on-line feedback, then tell your online users what you did. Thank them for the input. A note from a company president on the relevant forum, thanking someone for their feedback just created customers for life and probably evangelical ones at that.

C) Dont blow off your online reviewers as “kooks”

Granted there is always some “dissatifed at life individual” whom no one can please, but other online reviewers pick up on that an discount most of those opinions. Look for two things in the online reviews.
Identify real issues that the users face in operating your product. Most importantly look for work arounds that users develop for product definciencies. Customer work arounds are your customers doing your creative work for you. Evaluate each customer work around very carefully. They are a potential gold mine of product improvements. Some work arounds may lead to you design new accessories (which represent the potential for follow on income and extended product sales life). Other work arounds may lead you to significant, or minor, product design changes.

D) Never, no never, lash out at online reviewers

The truth is the truth no matter who states it, or how it is stated. Many people get rude and overly critical when posting online. They say things they would never say in person. Look for the truth, understanding that most online reviews will be negative.

E) Understand lurking

Only of a small percentage of online viewers will ever actually post in the forums. This is called lurking. Lurking is where you look, but never post. If you are doing well 1-3% of your visitors will post. Any percentage higher than 3% should be considered as a huge success. Low lurking percentage means that you have a highly involved user community.

F) Be bold and consistent over the long run!

Lets say a customer is complaining the product needs some easily added feature (easily added if you are designing from scratch). Maybe you could even implement this feature with a change in firmware. Once you make the firmware change you have to test, distribute etc. Making this change requires resources that you are currently using on the next generation product. If you make this change, you potentially slow down the release of the next generation of product.

To make it worse, in a meeting a couple of years ago, someone suggested this feature. However, it was deemed more important to spend time on other features. So now you are faced with a decision. Do I slow down the new product to implement a “customer relations” change, or do I just keep going and forget about the potential improvement. If you go on with the new product, getting to market quickly is important. However, adding the feature to the current represents a potential win amoung the user / customer base.

It is much easier to sell to an existing customer than find new ones. Jay Conrad Levinson talks about this in the book “Guerilla Marketing”. You can find out where to purchase the book at www.gmarketing.com. As we all know, because of the customer, marketing and product design are intimately related. Why have to spend all the money to find new customers, when the existing customers are already there. Promoting on-line reviews can help sell the next round of products as well as sell products today. Promoting this type of activity helps marketing and sales, but should be driven by the product managers and designers for maximum value (i.e. return of investment).
If you implement the new feature in the current product, then do it quickly. This type of response is appreciated by the person suggesting the improvement. In these days of “customer diservice” other readers will be amazed at how responsive the manufacturer is to their opinons and suggestions. Maybe your programmers would appreciate the opportunity to directly impact customers by being responsive to customer feedback. Maybe this responsiveness is part of a company-wide attitude of excellence.

Communicate the addition of th new feature to the customer(s) who suggested it. Maybe make him, or her, a celebrity amoung the other users. Maybe put him in the next commercial. Maybe let him send out a mailer, or e-mail, (under your supervision) to all of the registered users.

This type of boldness isnt tolerated in many companies, so you may not be able to pull this off in your organization. Many users would be thrilled with smaller gestures (less risky) from the manufacturer. Assigning a product manager the collateral duty of just responding to customer comments could make a huge difference in how your product is perceived in the broader market. This is especially true with the rise in popularity, and credibility, of the blogosphere. At the same time, that product manager has his finger on the pulse of a portion of the user community. That can translate to design wins on future products.

Whatever you do, make sure that you do it consistently and continue the user relations campaign for an extended period of time. Starting a user relations campaign up and suddenly going silent may do more damage than doing nothing. You can read more about public relations consistentcy on Frank Williams (Pioneer Strategies) blog at
http://www.pioneerstrategies.com/newsltr_oct04.htm and http://www.pioneerstrategies.com/newsltr_may04.htm.

Consistentcy, longevity, and a passion to be an advocate for the customer are the keys to making the most of these opportunities.

As always, you comments and suggestions are welcome. Please dont hesitate to leave a comment here, or send an e-mail to montie@montie.com.

Best Regards,
Montie Roland
President – Montie Design (www.montie.com)
President, Carolinas Chapter of the PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
Home of the NC Product Design Directory

Providing Customer Value Every Day

Yesterday, Dec 1st, I had the opportunity of attending a quarterly leadship forum sponsored by Pioneer Strategies in Raleigh, NC. The speaker, Bob Luddy, is a regional business success story. Some of what I took away from the conference is in the podcast below.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. You can post your comments here, or send an e-mail to montie@montie.com.

Best Regards,
Montie Roland
President, Montie Design
President, Carolinas Chapter PDMA

Wii vs. PlayStation3 – What We Can Learn from the Game Console War

The last four weeks have contained much dinner time discussion about my step-son ditching the Xbox 360 (all of six weeks old, which he bought with money that he earned) to buy the new, cool PlayStation3. You may be asking what does this have to do with product design management. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are competing over the console space. A game console is a thinly-disguised computer that hooks up to your TV to play games. When I was growing up the console space was brand new and was dominated by Atari. Later generations of game consoles boiled down to a console war between Nintendo and Sega. Sega lost. The latest consoles are the Sony Playstation3 (Sony), Xbox 360 (Microsoft), and the Wii (Nintendo).

The Sony Playstation3 has cutting-edge graphics and physics powered by the IBM cell processor. The XBox 360 is a year old now and doesnt quite have the graphics horsepower that the Playstation has. However, it does have a very successful on-line component called Xbox Live. The Sony costs from $500-600. The Xbox costs from $400-500. The Wii costs from $200-300 and doesnt have the graphics (or physics) horsepower of either of its competitors.

The Wii does have a very innovative controller that was designed to make game play easier. Both the Playstation3 and the XBox controllers are button farms. They can be difficult to use. The other Wii advantage is its emphasis on ease-of-play. The system was designed to make game play easy. Making it easier makes it more attractive to a wider audience, and not just hard-core gamers. Nintendos plan is to design a better experience for a broader audience.

My step-son (age 16) test played the Wii last night. When he got home, he was raving about how great the Wii was. When I asked how it could be that great he said; “I like the way it played”. This goes back to exactly what Shimon (www.Touch360.com) has been saying about designing for experience: http://www.montie.com/PDMA/2006_sept_event.

The Wii, it doesnt have the sheer computing power of the PlayStation 3, but it does have a well-designed experience. We, as product designers and managers, should strive for similar forms of design excellence. It isnt always about additional features and more performance. Elegance can be difficult to achieve, but the result is usually worth the effort especially if you are the end user.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Montie Roland
President – Montie Design (ww.montie.com)
President – Carolinas PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)

What made the Joint PDMA/TEC/ASME Event Interesting? (Revised on 3 Jan 07)

Last month, we had the opportunity to put three groups together to host a joint consultants roundtable. These groups are:

  • Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development & Management Association (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
  • Carolinas Section of the ASME (http://sections.asme.org/carolina/)
  • Triangle Engineering Consultants (www.tecgroup.org)

After a short networking session, we listened to a short keynote talk from Charles Lord (Triangle Advanced Design and Automation — http://www.tadatraining.com) about the subject of integrating consultants into your design process. The presentation, in power point format, is available at All_I_need_is.ppt.

Ongoing Discussion at the Consultants Roundtable

The roundtable discussion include eight consultants and a regional economist (Tom Vass). The discussion was titled “Integrating Consultants into A Well-Run Design Process”. To my surprise, and contray to the efforts of the moderator [me], the discussion kept straying onto the topic of how can consultants work with inventors and early-stage startups.

The result of this discussion was Tom Vasss October 26th blog posting on the Design blogs at blog.Montie.com. Several of the attendees and consultants made suggestions of resources for these types of situations. Bill Sullivan (Carolinas PDMA Chapter member) highlighted the following resources:

From the University of Illinois:

Illinois incubator (Theyve upgraded their facilities!)
http://www.researchpark.uiuc.edu/

Illinois Business Consulting (IBC)
http://www.ibc.uiuc.edu/

From UNC there is an organization that supports Entrepreneurship, but it doesnt seem to have an incubator. Interestingly, its sponsored in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who is a big supporter of the University of Illinois program and the IBC. I was a Kauffman fellow when I was at U of I. Also, as mentioned on Thursday, UNC has the STAR program for student consulting.

Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative (UNC)
http://www.kenaninstitute.unc.edu/centers/cei/?y=home&t=CEI%20Home

STAR – Student Teams Achieving Results (UNC)
http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/Leadership/Companies/STAROverview.cfm

NC State has their technology incubator, but doesnt seem to have a student business consulting organization.

NC State Technology Incubator
http://techincubator.ncsu.edu/index.htm

Duke has an organization that supports Entrepreneurship, but like UNC it doesnt look like they have an incubator. They do have a student consulting organization that specifically mentions its commitment to pro bono consulting to local businesses that dont have the resources to get paid consulting.

Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization (CERC) – Duke
http://cerc.duke.edu/

Fuqua Student Consulting Program (Duke/Fuqua)
http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/programs/studentconsulting/

Creed Huddleston (Vice President of Omnisys Corp — www.omnisyscorp.com) suggested these:

Another organization that is focused on developing entrepreneurship nationwide is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation out of Kansas City. Their website is full of useful information on all aspects of business operations and development.

http://www.eventuring.org/eShip/appmanager/eVenturing/eVenturingDesktop

One of the things we discussed last night was having an “opportunity fair” type of event on an annual basis. It looks like CED is putting on just such an event in Wilmington in December, with registration discounts prior to 11/3:

Opportunity 2006 Conference:
http://www.cednc.org/conferences/opportunity/2006/

Here are some useful CED (Council for Entrepreneurial Development) links that describe how CED can help and the programs they offer. One item that attracted my attention based on last nights discussion is their Entrepreneurs Only Workshop series, which are lunch-time meetings that give current and budding entrepreneurs useful knowledge on the whole start-up process. Ive also included the Business Stages page since that breaks out their programs by their applicability to a particular phase in the business life cycle.

CED home page:
http://www.cednc.org

Programs and events:
http://www.cednc.org/programs_and_events/

Entrepreneurs Only Workshop:
http://www.cednc.org/programs_and_events/entrepreneurs_only_workshop/

Business Stages:
http://www.cednc.org/programs_and_events/business_stages/

MIT On-line Courses

http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html

Fred Buggie (Strategic Innovations International, Inc. — www.StrategicInnovations.com) suggested:

Every State I know of has an organization charged with the responsibility of inducing large companies to locate operations in their State. Those organizations normally are called “Industrial Development Authorities,” or “Indl Devt. Agencies,” but in the case of the Carolinas, they call themselves something different (so please extend my apologies to Tom Brown for the bum info. I gave him during your meeting). Each of these agencies has as their primary mission the attraction of new industry, so as to increase employment, and taxes paid, in the State; but as their secondary priority they are, to a lesser extent, interested in supporting the growth and prosperity of small companies already located in the State … for the same 2 reasons.

South Carolina

South Carolina Department of Commerce, directed by Chuck Bundy 803/737-0400.
They have done a terrific job over the years, especially in attracting large employers to locate in the Greenville/Spartanburg area.

Charlotte Regional Partnership

Director: Kenny McDonald 704/347-8942
City of Charlotte, NC cooperates with The SC Dept. of Commerce, and York County SC Economic Development Department, right across the State boundary line. The latter is managed by Mark Ferris (803/802-4300) with the City of Charlotte, NC Small Business Development Program

This is an organization sponsored by the North Carolina Department. of Commerce, responsible for supporting small businesses in the 10 NC counties around Charlotte. 704/336-2473.

North Carolina Department of Commerce, Raleigh, NC

The Business & Industry Division is run by Gene Byrd 919/733-4151

Tony McCullough (GRT Electronics — www.grtelectronics.com) added:

NC Small Business and Technology Development Center

http://www.sbtdc.org/technology/funding_sources.asp (Funding Sources List)

http://www.sbtdc.org/technology/sbir.asp (SBIR Information)

Thanks to the folks that contributed to the info above and to making the meeting a success! Working with early-stage startups, and individual inventors, remains a challenge for design firms and consultants. The triangle area benefits economically from these entities, some of which grow into much bigger entities. Supporting the development of new businessess should be a priority that we all share, especially since we all benefit from their success.

Have a great day!

Montie Roland

President – Carolinas PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
President – Montie Design (www.montie.com)
montie@montie.com

Be sure to check out the NC Product Design Directory!

www.montie.com

Camping from the Viewpoint of a Product Designer

Camping is an activity that transcends the standard social and economic assumptions. Camping is an extremely popular activity that attacts hundreds of thousands of participants each year. We come to see and experience locations and activities like:

Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains
Hiking on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina

Hiking on Mount Mitchell in North Carolina


Sliding Down a Gigantic Rocks into 56 Degree Water at Sliding Rock

The modern camping trip is a buffet of products designed to help improve the camping experience. We bring, use and make icons, and artifacts, like:

The Venerable Coleman Camping Stove

Everyone Loves a Campfire Followed by SMores


When the Tents Leak, The Pop-Up Shelters Come Out

PVC Helps this Camper Accommodate for Missing Product Features

The podcast (below) discusses the camping experience and how we could redesign that experience to make camping more universally acceptable. Hopefully this exercise will give you ideas on how-to evaluate the experience associated with your products. Evaluating the experience associated with an existing product can be an excellent way to define new product experiences. These experience models lead to developing new, or derivative, products that make these new experiences possible.

As always, your comments, and suggestions, are welcome. Please send them to me at montie@montie.com. Have a great day!

Sincerely,
Montie Roland

25 Oct 06 — Joint PDMA / ASME / TEC Meeting

“Integrating Consultants into a Well-Managed Design Process”
A Joint PDMA / TEC / ASME Event

Date: 25 Oct 06

Time: 6:00 PM – Pizza / Networking
6:30 PM – Keynote Speaker
7:00-8:30 PM – Roundtable Discussion with Audience Participation

Location: Lord Corp., 111 Lord Drive, Cary, NC 27511-7923 (e-mail montie@montie.com for directions)

Cost: $10 Members, $25 Non-members, Free for Students

Please RSVP by Oct. 20th to asme.rsvp@yahoo.com

Keynote Speaker: Charles Lord, Triangle Advanced Design and Automation, LLC

Consultant Roundtable Members

Project Management — Sean Ahr
Mechanical / Industrial Product Design — Anthony Anibale
Computer Modeling and Performance Prediction — Michael Hiller
Dealing with Electronic Emissions — David Guzman
Software Development — Michael Izquierdo
Role of Marketing in NPD — David Chapman
Embedded Systems / Safety Issues — Coleman Moore
Balancing Available Capital and Product Development — Thomas Vass

Thanks to Our Sponsor: JMC Machine & Tool, Apex, NC

More About the Roundtable Members

Sean Ahr, Director of Engineering
Porticos, Inc.
Morrisville, NC

At Portico,s Sean is responsible for providing our customers with innovative and effective solutions that exceed their expectations. With over 10 years experience in both consumer products and aviation design and development, Sean works to ensure that our customers projects are managed with excellence. Prior to his service at Porticos, Sean worked in both mechanical design and project leadership roles in multiple divisions of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, The New Piper Aircraft Company, and Northrup-Grumman Aerospace. He holds and has contributed to several design and utility patents, and has been instrumental in gaining compliance to regulations of federal agencies such as the FAA and FCC. Sean holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University, and has advanced training in engineering management and organizational behavior.

Anthony Annibale, Partner
Insight Product Development
Raleigh, NC

Anthony Annibale is a partner and managing director for Insight Product Development in Raleigh, North Carolina. Insight has offices in Chicago, Boston and Raleigh, and 90 professionals on staff, and is one of the largest product development firms in the United States. Anthony manages all aspects of the business for Insights Raleigh office as well as running many of the major client programs. He also shares the responsibility of managing the firm in corporate development, client strategies, and new business ventures. Anthony has more than 15 years of engineering experience in product design, manufacturing, product innovation planning and product line management. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University of Norfolk, Virginia.

Fredrick D. Buggie, President
Strategic Innovations Intl.

Frederick D. Buggie has over 20 years experience directing Programs that apply the group-creativity by teams of selected experts in diverse fields (prepared in advance) to generate innovative concepts for leading companies in the US and Europe, in virtually every industry, to achieve their business growth objectives … including: 1) Identification of new product development opportunities, that fit the companys particular technologies and production capabilities; 2) Fully commercializing a newly-developed, versatile product or process, by uncovering all of its promising market applications. Author of the widely acclaimed business book, New Product Development Strategies, and more than 50 articles published in trade & professional journals, including “The Four Phases of Innovation” (Journal of Business Strategy), Mr. Buggie also conducts Executive Seminars & Workshops on Innovation in Business. He is an Elected Fellow of The Institute of Directors in London, and served as President of The New York Chapter of The Association for Corporate Growth.

David Guzman
RFTEK
Raleigh, NC

David Guzman has been an independent consultant for 5 years and operates in the area of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and RF circuit design. Previous to starting his business, David held engineering positions in several companies including Square D Company, Nortel Networks, RF Microdevices and Solectron. David has spent almost 20 years working in the areas of new product development in industrial controls, RF circuit design and the design and test of circuits and systems for Electromagnetic Compatibility compliance. David holds a BS from the University of Rhode Island , an MSc. form the University of Nebraska and an MSEE from North Carolina State University .

Michael Hiller
In2Solutions
Cary, NC

Michael Hiller earned his BSME and MSME from North Carolina State University, and he is active in ENC ASME. His consultancy focuses on finite element analysis simulation & optimization using Multiphysics ANSYS software. This best-in-class software integrates linear and non-linear structural, thermal, magnetic, and fluid/air flow & cooling phenomenas. His organization provides FEA services to designers, manufacturers, and inventors, and he also helps companies develop in-house FEA competencies if desired. He has simulated everything from snap fits, to integrated circuits, to telecom enclosures, to superconducting magnets, to bridges, to 500 marine structures (and everything in-between). Mike has worked in the manufacturing sector as well as the CAD/FEA (ProE & ANSYS) software sales channel – – his clients benefit from his unique combination of practical experience as well as software industry “insider” expertise.

Creed Huddleston, VP
Omnisys Corporation
Raleigh, NC

Creed Huddleston is the Vice President of Omnisys Corporation, a Raleigh-based company that specializes in the development of real-time control and communication systems for OEM customers. In his 11 years with Omnisys, Creed has participated in the creation of products that are deployed globally to thousands of end-users such as Daimler-Chrysler, Becton, Dickinson, and Company, and Imation Corporation. The company is an authorized consultant for Microchip, Lattice Semiconductor, and Trolltech, and it is also a member of the Freescale Design Alliance Program. In addition to his duties with Omnisys, Creed serves on the technical advisory board for Quickfilter Technologies, Inc., a Dallas-based startup producing mixed-signal integrated circuits that provide high-speed analog signal conditioning and digital signal processing in a single package. His book Implementing Intelligent Sensors Using the Microchip dsPIC will be published by Newnes in December of 2006.

Mike Izquierdo, Software Development Manager
Kidde Aerospace & Defense
Wilson, NC

Mike Izquierdo currently is the Software Development Manager for Kidde Aerospace & Defense, a Hamilton Sunstrand Company. He manages the development of safety critical software for the aerospace industry in overheat detection and fire detection/suppression systems for both military and commercial aircrafts. He developed software for the Airbus A380 Overheat Detection System and managed the A380, Boeing B787 Dreamliner, C17 Overheat Detection System and the Joint Strike Fighter. He is currently a member of the SC-205 subcommittee working on DO-178C. Hes been in the engineering field for over 20 years and has worked in the fields of ASIC and FPGA design and PCI board design of Audio/Video Codecs. He was with IBM for 15 years, received his PhD from NC State in 1997 and has been an IEEE member for 27 years.

David Chapman, CEO
919 Marketing Co.
Holly Springs, NC

David Chapman has over 20 years of senior-level marketing and business development management experience. He has served on the American Marketing Associations Best New Products Awards Panel and is a member of the National Association of Certified Consultants. Davids career path combines corporate and consulting roles, and includes stints as CEO of a national professional services firm, VP Marketing for the market leader in workforce technology training, and global Account Director for the largest global advertising agency network.

Coleman Moore
CDA Design Group

Coleman Moore is an experienced consultant and engineer, with over 25 years
of experience in the embedded systems, product design and safety systems
industries. Coleman has worked with many clients and corporations across
the U.S. and Europe. Coleman specializes in electronics product design and
in getting products to market quickly and effectively.

Thomas Vass
Good Business Advice
Raleigh, NC

Thomas Vass is a registered investment advisor for small high tech companies and private individuals. He helps companies raise growth capital. He is also an author and economist, and writes about the relationship between product innovation and economic growth. His new book Predicting Technology: Identifying Future Market Opportunities and Disruptive Technologies, published by The Great American Business & Economics Press, Inc., is available at www.gabby-press.com

Hear Shimon’s (at Touch360.com) Presentation on How-to Design for Experience

Morning,

As product designers, we often get hung up on features. Features are important, but they are only part of the experience that the user has when he interacts with the product. The user is concerned with the experience.

Follow Shimon (a Carolinas-PDMA chapter member) as he leads us through the process of designing for experience. The presentation came from the September Carolinas-PDMA chapter meeting. This is a great way to look at design from the users point of view.

The presentation (audio plus power point) from the September chapter event (Design for Experience) is available at:

http://www.montie.com/PDMA/2006_sept_event

The audio only version is available at:

http://www.montie.com/PDMA/2006_sept_event/pdma_9_27.mp3

As always, please send your suggestions and comments to montie@montie.com.

Have a great day!
Montie Roland
President, PDMA Carolinas

Go Here for Funds for Your NC Startup!

Afternoon All,

Here is your chance (press release below) to get a grant to help fund your start-up in NC.

Their website is www.ncidea.org.

Happy Hunting!

Montie

———————————————————————-
NC IDEA seeks grant applications from entrepreneurs and early-stage companies
08-21-2006

RESEARCH TRAINGLE PARK, N.C. NC IDEA is seeking grant applications from North Carolina entrepreneurs and early-stage companies focused on information technology, medical devices or material sciences.

NC IDEA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to helping establish and develop early-stage companies through the commercialization of research innovation. NC IDEA plans to award $150,000 ?proof of concept? grants to help bridge the gap between innovative ideas and venture capital funding. The grants are designed to prepare companies for equity funding, accelerating the creation of new North Carolina companies and jobs.

NC IDEA is accepting online applications through its Web site (www.ncidea.org) beginning today, Aug. 21. Grants of up to $50,000 per company will be awarded in December.

The grants support business activities that validate potential markets, reduce business risks, and advance projects to the point at which they are suitable for consideration by private equity investors. Preference is given to companies that have not previously received equity financing. An entrepreneur who has not formed a company may apply, but company incorporation is required prior to the awarding of grant funding.

Bridging the Innovation Gap
Many new technologies are not successfully transferred out of universities and research institutions because of a funding gap between government and private equity support. Research funding typically does not include support for business development activities or development of product prototypes suitable for mass production. Yet, venture capital funds typically do not invest in companies until they have a product and are already generating revenues from customer sales.

The NC IDEA grant program provides a novel source of assistance to bridge this gap. Earlier this year, NC IDEA awarded $225,000 in grants to seven early-stage North Carolina companies.

“NC IDEAs grant program offers young pre-venture companies an opportunity that cant be found elsewhere,” said Josh Whiton, chief executive officer of TransLoc, which received an NC IDEA grant in the previous cycle earlier this year. Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam, a professor at Duke and project manager for previous grant recipient Illuminus, agreed. ?There are no other sources of early funding that can be sought to address these issues,? she said.

In addition to funding, NC IDEA and its strategic partners facilitate access to business and technology leaders who will mentor and guide entrepreneurs to help them overcome research, product development, sales and product adoption hurdles. NC IDEA collaborates with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), The North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA), the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and Southeast TechInventures.

The initial ?pre-proposal? applications must be submitted online by Sept. 15. Approximately 12 to 15 companies submitting ?pre-proposal? submissions will be selected to participate in a subsequent full proposal submission and review period from Sept. 15 through Oct. 27. This process will include submission of a more in-depth proposal and prioritized budget for use of grant proceeds, and potentially a presentation from the company to a NC IDEA Grants Program advisory committee.

About NC IDEA
NC IDEA provides grants, loans and traditional venture capital to help young companies between seed funding and Series A financing. The non-profit company further supports these companies by leveraging strategic partnerships and alliances to help companies through research phases, business challenges and growth goals. NC IDEA is committed to supporting North Carolinas economic development by ensuring young, innovative companies grow, create jobs and become contributing business leaders. For more information, visit www.ncidea.org. Media Contact: Scott Yates, Largemouth Communications (for NC IDEA), 919-649-6621, scott@largemouthpr.com.

What is a Blog?

What is a blog?

A blog is a specialized version of a website. Blogs allow users to concentrate on providing content (usually editorials) rather than worrying about the technical aspects of creating a web page.

Modern web publishing tools such as Microsofts Front Page allow just about anyone to compose relatively simple websites. Front Page has made the task of editing simple websites almost as easily as using Microsoft Word. Even though the software is straightforward to use, running a website requires the user to establish a web space to publish to, and to deal with the issues related to publishing to the web. These technical hurdles keep most people out of the web publishing business.

Blog software streamlines the process of web publishing. Websites such as Bloglines.com have streamlined workflows that allow users to quickly and cheaply (often free) create their own blogs. The combination of; the open source software movement, PHP (a scripting language on web servers), and MySQL (a database program, similar to Oracle) has allowed even low-budget websites to host blogs that reach huge audiences.

Why is blogging so popular?

Non-technical users can now easily create and maintain their blogs. The biggest cost of creating and maintaining a blog is the writers time. This allows writers to concentrate on creating their content. Bloggers can easily add text and pictures to their blogs. Once text and pictures have been added, or updated, that content is almost instantly available on the internet. Bloggers get the instant gratification of having their writing and images instantaneously available around the world.

Bloggers can also add content to their blogs from anywhere in the world. All they need is a computer with an internet connection. It is now common to see a press release saying ?He will be blogging from?. What this means is that magazines and other media outlets can have their bloggers add content while they are at venues such as trades shows, planned events, the scene of natural disasters, or even from their tent in Iraq. A good example is the proliferation of blogs written by soldiers from their duty stations in the Iraq war.

Readers can subscribe to one, or many, blogs, often for free. Subscriptions are maintained by aggregators. These aggregators allow the reader to tell the aggregator website which blogs they want to monitor. Some aggregators only monitor specific blogs (maybe only blogs they host). Other aggregators maintain directories of active blogs (this is common for podcasts). Subscriptions are much more convenient for the reader than having to visit the blog each day to check to see if there is new content.

One of the secrets of the success of the meteoric rise of blogs is the use of the RSS feed. Every blog has an RSS feed. RSS stands for ?Really Simple Syndication?. RSS feeds use a standard format to encapsulate the content of the blog. The use of the RSS feeds also allows the encapsulation of audio (podcasts) and video. From a broader perspective, its important to consider that RSS is as important to blogs as news services such as the Associated Press have been to traditional media. Make no mistakes, blogs represent a new media. The adoption of RSS feeds (and the subsequent support of these feeds by blogs and aggregators) creates a path for the distribution of blogs.

To put this in perspective there are three main ways to find a website on the internet. The first is to search for a topic, maybe through Google or Yahoo, and then visit a site that has information about that topic. Another way is to see, hear or be given a website address (maybe in print, TV, or radio) and then type in that address in Internet Explorer to go there. The third way is to see a link on another website or electronic document. You then click on the link and the website comes up.

Without RSS, most blogs would languish in obscurity as web pages that never got read. The aggregators now use RSS feeds to provide potential blog readers with choices of blogs to read. A good metaphor is to think of an RSS feed as a TV channel. For example you may turn to Fox to see a program on Thursday nights. RSS turns the blog (or podcast) into an outlet. Your computer can bring up the RSS feed and present you with the content of that channel. Combine this with the directories of blogs and podcasts that aggregators create and you have the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of channels, all on-demand. With the TV, you have to have TiVo, or a VCR, to record the programs that you miss. With RSS feeds, you can download the content and listen to it at your convenience. You can even search it.

Make no doubt blogs and podcasts represent a new media, both for entertainment and information. In the past, being ?media? meant massive investments in airspace, equipment, and personnel. Now one individual can sit at his, or her, PC and share opinions, thoughts, wisdom or knowledge just by sitting down and typing it into his computer and hitting ?upload?. Pictures, video and audio and are now easily integrated into blogs and podcasts. Just the ability to take a picture with your digital camera and have it passed through the RSS feed to thousands of subscribers is massive. This is a powerful tool, one which will affect the way we perceive the flow of information, thoughts and ideas for a long time to come.

Having a standard format allows aggregators to monitor blogs. The aggregators have programs visit (also called spider) each blog at regular intervals and check for updates. RSS feeds even contain a tag that suggests to the aggregator how often their blog is updated. This allows bloggers who update frequently to have their RSS feed checked more often.

Aggregators check the RSS feed by visiting the website hosting the blog and downloading the RSS feed. The potentially new RSS feed is automatically compared to the previously downloaded feed. Once new content has been detected, the aggregator then alerts any subscribers to the fact that the blog has been updated and new content is available. An example of an aggregator is www.bloglines.com. Other aggregators include:

www.blogwise.com
www.blogger.com
www.feedburner.com
www.newsgator.com
http://www.apple.com/rss/

Bloggers may also use a service like www.pingomatic.com to alert major aggregators if their blog has been updated more frequently that usual.

There are several ways an aggregator can alert subscribers to the presence of new blog content. The first way is through an e-mail. The subscriber receives an e-mail from the aggregator (or from the blog website itself) letting the subscriber know that new content is available. Bloglines uses a program (downloaded by the subscriber) running in the background on the subscribers machine. This program checks the RSS feeds from a list of subscribed blogs for new content. Once new content is available, the reader can visit the blog and read the new content. It is important to note that the software that downloads new podcasts (podcatchers) works essentially the same way.

There are also search engines that concentrate on blogs. A good example is blogsearch.google.com.

How do you create, publish and syndicate a blog?

There are two different ways to create a blog. The first is to go to a website that provides blogging services. These sites include:

www.bloglines.com
www.blogger.com
www.eponym.com
www.typepad.com
www.wordpress.com

Generally, creating your first blog is as easy as creating an account and starting to add content. However, many of these sites require you to agree to terms that include the reassigning all copyrights to the hosting site. This means that to use their services you may have to give them the rights to the content you are adding to your blog. This can be very important if you decide to reuse that content later (or you want to control how the content is used), since you may not own the content in your blog any more. This is one time that it is critical that you read the terms before you agree to use ?free? blog services.

The second way is to integrate blogging software into your website. This requires more skill and an on-line presence. There are several different ways to achieve the creation of your own blog. One is to use software that is built for the sole purpose of allowing the creation and maintenance of blogs. These may be written in CGI, Perl or PHP. PHP blog scripts often use a MySQL database. Most presence providers (such as www.powweb.com) support PHP and MySQL. Sources of blog scripts include:

www.hotscripts.com
www.outshine.com
www.sixapart.com/movabletype/index
www.wordpress.org/hosting/

At www.Montie.com we use a slightly different approach. We wanted to support an on-line community, as well as, a blog. The on-line community is powered by a script called PHPbb. PHPbb is available from www.phpbb.com. This is an open source script that is used on tens of thousands of websites around the world. PHPbb has spawned several widely used variants such as Post-Nuke. There is a good chance that any time you are looking at a forum on the internet, it is powered by PHPbb or a variant (such as Post-Nuke).

We then use a program called PHPBlog from www.outshine.com. PHPBlog allows all the topics on a specific forum to be posted as blog entries. Each time a reader visits the blog (www.montie.com/blog/index.php), the script searches the forum database to create the blog page and compiles the RSS feed.

We also use CuteFTP to move files around and to edit the script files. Unfortunately, in order to install PHP scripts you will want FTP software to upload files to your website and edit PHP files directly while you are installing and upgrading software. It is necessary to upgrade software as security issues are fixed. You can do FTP transfers (moving files to and from your website to set up and configure the PHP scripts) with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Many tasks can be automated with a program with CuteFTP and that is a huge time saver.

You will also need to be familiar with an image editor. The web gives you the opportunity to present full color images to the world at almost no cost. Once you have a blog and begin adding content, there is a good chance you will want to add pictures, sound (podcasts), and maybe video. Youll also need to create a banner for the top of your blog. Youll also need to do more mundane things like resize pictures that you want to show off on your new blog. There are a couple of tools that come with Microsoft Windows that work fairly well. There are also many image editing programs available commercially, and some even for free. Learning to use a simple one will be a huge help as you discover how a simple image from your digital camera can add to the power of your written words.

Once you have all of this set up, you will want to use tools like those available at www.pingomatic.com and www.feedburner.com to properly syndicate your site.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, Montie can be reached by e-mail at montie@montie.com, or you can visit his website at: www.montie.com. Montie is a consultant providing product design services. He is also the President of the NC/SC chapter of the PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas).