It’s not just about whether a product is fit for purpose and works effectively; a product needs to protect customer loyalty and brand reputation. This blog examines the key components that should be included in your Product Integrity strategy.

Prevention Not Cure

Did you know that 55% of consumers would switch brands temporarily following a recalled product and 21% would never again buy any brand made by the recalled product’s manufacturer? Getting excellent products to market fast are the 2 keys to a good customer experience, which in turn is the main competitive differentiator in today’s consumer-driven world. Balancing speed, cost, quality and innovation, is the hardest task for most companies, particularly in the High Tech sector where complex products and the interconnectivity of the IoT, exponentially increase the likelihood of human error, software bugs and poor quality results. Never has Product Integrity been a more important consideration for businesses focused on leading the market for consumer goods. As we all know, if you want to protect your brand reputation, prevention is better than cure, so businesses need an excellent Product Integrity and testing strategy to ensure Product Integrity and eliminate the possibility of a brand-destroying and expensive recall. Of course, if the recalled product is dangerous there is also the risk that customers could be injured or even killed. Product Integrity is therefore not just a factor in competitive advantage, it’s a responsibility that you owe to your customers.  Let’s first take a look at some of the most disastrous recalls in consumer history and then explore a killer strategy to ensure Product Integrity and quality.

The Best of the Worst

The 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal was a real blow for the company’s reputation, not just in terms of product issues, but also in the way that they dealt with the problem. During emissions testing Volkswagen re-programmed the software in some of their diesel models to show reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, so that the vehicles appeared more environmentally friendly than they actually were, and complied with emissions regulations. Post-testing, the emissions were 40 times the legal USA limit. The automotive company are now looking at altering over 11 million vehicles worldwide to comply with US and stricter European laws. Lack of product (and management) integrity has caused huge reputational damage to the company, which could have been avoided with a proper Product Integrity strategy and a more DevOps culture.

The talking “My Friend Cayla doll”, manufactured by Genesis and distributed by Vivid Toy Group, suddenly didn’t seem so friendly when it transpired that hackers can use the doll to steal personal data by recording conversations over the insecure Bluetooth connection. The doll is now banned in Germany. In the USA, Cayla is also under investigation for contravening children’s privacy laws because, worryingly, the doll records and transmits the voice prints of children who play with her to computer-software company Nuance Communications! All of these things need to be taken into account in a Product Integrity strategy. It’s not just about whether the product is fit for purpose and works effectively; it must also be safe, secure and in line with all laws and regulations, as well as meeting contractual obligations to customers and warranties.

Perhaps one of the most famous recalls in recent years is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle, which unbelievably is still making headlines as the company struggles to find the right approach to recalling the product and bringing customers back into the fold. As we all know by now, the phone had an unfortunate predilection to bursting into flames. In the early stages of the recall, airlines were making an appeal to passengers who owned the phone to hand it in so it could be removed from the craft to avoid a potential disaster! Added to this, the press and of course a wealth of comedians and TV personalities have had a field day with jokes at Samsung’s expense. As if this wasn’t bad enough, just a couple of weeks ago, Samsung released a statement that they were considering modifying the phones to use as refurbished or rental phones, a decision which was met with shock and derision across the tech sector. This just goes to show that your wider Product Integrity strategy needs to stretch beyond development and testing and consider how your company will behave if the worst happens, even after you’ve taken every foreseeable precaution.

There are of course hundreds more examples of product disasters to drive fear into the heart of the High Tech industry and indeed the consumer. So, let’s look at a strategy for minimising the risk, achieving excellent product integrity and protecting customer loyalty and brand reputation.

Product Integrity Strategy

The key components to your strategy should be:

  • Requirement Management
  • Design Optimisation
  • Risk assessment
  • Component integrity
  • Reliability Prediction and Evaluation
  • Quality and Testing
  • Audits and Assessment
  • Post Market Surveillance
  • Creating an open, honest, no-blame culture

Sogeti’s Product Integrity services enable a commitment to quality controls and operational excellence. We assess your products, processes and risks, analyse requirements, technical architecture & design and code optimisation. In this way, we help to ensure the integrity of every component part as well as testing how the parts work as a whole and benchmarking the product against industry standards and Regulations. An Agile way of working and a DevOps mindset helps to create the right culture and workflow to ensure high quality output at speed. Our Security Assessment Framework means you and your customers can rest assured that your smart product won’t get hacked and your privacy remains intact. We create and implement vehicle infotainment and instrument panel cluster testing guidelines to optimise quality, minimise risk, ensure function to spec consistency, electrical and digital performance and M2M connectivity.  Complete visibility over your supply chain is also essential so you can see the journey of all the product parts, who is responsible for them and what condition they are in. At Sogeti we offer a complete Product Integrity solution to give you peace of mind while still getting your products to market as quickly as possible.

  • Malavika Athavale
    Malavika Athavale
    Vice President, Head Product V&V
    +91 98 200 688 33
  • Vivek Jaykrishnan
    Vivek Jaykrishnan
    Senior Director - Technology, Product Engineering Services V&V