Why I think Smart Products CoE needs to sit outside Analytics CoE

First, let us understand what I mean by Smart Products and Solutions

When I talk about an Smart products and solutions, it is much more than an algorithm. True Smart Products and solutions have certain characteristics, in terms of functionalities, that combine hardware and software:

  • Sensing
  • Comprehending
  • Taking Action
  • Learning in the process

Some examples of what I consider AI solutions as per my definition are in this video:

And hence, they are solutions, in which algorithms are just one part. This is the next and the only differentiating capability as analytics is getting commoditized at a rapid pace.There is then another aspect of the value that an AI solution needs to deliver (read a related article here):

Designing practical AI Solutions

Why I argue that Smart Products CoEs need to sit outside Analytics CoE

In my mind, the nature of work is completely different. So are the characteristics of projects developed by Advanced Analytics vs Smart Products teams. If you have talked to people leading AI teams in leading organizations, you would have noticed two key aspects:

  • Smart Products & Solutions, like the ones mentioned in the video above, are very different in terms of timeline. These Projects are akin to research pipelines and take years and years. They are like new product development process. These teams create new products and capabilities, like the ones mentioned in the video above.


  • Because of these disparate focuses, the thought process and experience of the resources on these teams MUST differ and that means their work style will differ too. Pulling these research focused folks to intermittently on projects like improving forecast accuracy or optimizing safety stock levels, may irritate these resources and may lead to attrition. You may end up disrupting both types of projects when this happens. While having transferable skills are good- not in this case, in my opinion.


  • While advanced analytics projects work mostly “in the business” and hence are focused on improving a capability that already exists or a process that already exists, without making any radical changes to the process – Smart product Projects explore capabilities that will transform the ways organizations function.


  • The structure of the team will be different too for Cognitive capability projects. You need more like a workshop environment, not office cubicles (think scaled down versions of Boston Dynamics workshops)

And just like IT, there can obviously be an interaction between the Smart Products CoE and Advanced Analytics CoE.

I see the Smart Products CoE being more advanced and hence doing knowledge transfer to Analytics CoE so that they can use the algorithms and learning in “in the business” work.


Views my Own.


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