Technology has given rise to brand-new job titles, like SEO specialist, influencer, digital marketer and community manager, while making other roles obsolete, such as encyclopedia salesmen.

In product development, too, roles are rapidly changing as the challenges of today’s world push businesses to adopt new technology, heralding in Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

How Industry 4.0 is Changing Product Development

Product development teams are undergoing a massive shift. Under pressure to deliver products on time and with governments’ renewed interest in bolstering the manufacturing industry, and related industries, an opportunity arises. 

An opportunity to adapt.

The product development teams of old relied on tools that tied workers to the office and kept work siloed away. When teams are expected to be flexible, resilient, iterative, and sustainable, only tools that allow for high levels of connectivity can be used.

That’s what the cloud is providing now. With cloud-native products, collaboration is unleashed and agile processes can flow freely. Lost files are a thing of the past and anyone can work from anywhere. This mass adoption of smart technologies is called Industry 4.0. And it’s knocking at your door.

Like the name suggests, Industry 4.0 is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the next iteration of industry. Industry 4.0 is the digitization of manufacturing, using IoT to connect the physical to the digital.

This revolution is shifting what work means for all involved in the manufacturing process – even the teams who hardly step on the manufacturing floor, such as the designers behind the product.

An example of a manufacturing shopfloorImage courtesy: @simonkadula/

A Team Ready for Industry 4.0

While Industry 4.0 transforms manufacturing, the engineers and designers working with manufacturers are transforming their own work processes with the implementation of cloud-native technologies. 

Cloud-native tools free workers from manual tasks with automation, and departments are no longer siloed. Engineers can quickly collaborate with suppliers, marketers and sales – if everyone is using the right tools. Designers aren’t painstakingly hunched over drafting boards nor tied to their office computer screen – they’re on their laptop or mobile device already working on the next iteration with colleagues in real-time before sending it to the shopfloor.

With modern solutions come new responsibilities requiring expert knowledge. Management roles will no longer be doling out to-dos, but also acting as guides leading teams to the overarching goal.

As a simple example, if a sales team decided to implement a cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) system, who’s going to manage it and make sure the business gets the most out of the tool? Someone has to learn the ins and outs of the system, integrate it with tools essential to their particular business, and create best practices for the team at large.

That expert is essential to the success of the team. In product development, three roles are emerging as essential to a team’s success.

working on a CAD modelImage courtesy: @thisisengineering/

Building the Right Team

With that kind of connectivity, these three roles are becoming essential to any product development team:

  • CAD Software Engineer builds and maintains a library of custom CAD features as productivity tools for the design team. This role works to automate tasks specific to the team's needs and works to integrate data from the company as a whole.

  • Technical Marketing Manager is part of the product development team, paired with the product manager, who serves to support sales and marketing on go-to-market actions. 

  • Director of Digitization oversees product development strategy, department resources, and budget and oversees company partnerships with manufacturers and suppliers. They are in charge of improving operational efficiency and growing profit margins by moving product development to more modern and cost-effective cloud solutions. 

Learn more about these roles, their responsibilities and how they impact the business in our eBook, 3 People You Need to Add to Your Product Development Team.

Cloud and the Product Development Team

Onshape, a cloud-native product development platform, is quickly becoming a game-changer for teams aiming to be more agile and innovative. Each one of the essential roles mentioned above can tap into the power of Onshape’s cloud platform, along with the team you have today.

For example, the product development agency Doris Dev was able to modernize their workflows as well as their job functions.

“In Onshape, we are able to quickly make design changes with input from multiple designers at the same time because we're all able to share design documents,” Head of Product Lucas Lappe told us. “We're all able to preview the designs with nine technical team members and the marketing and branding teams who can see the product and provide feedback without ever needing a CAD license or the ability to download a CAD file and open it up.”

The next level of collaboration is here, right in time to ride the wave into Industry 4.0.

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