CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 11

company not want to affect the weight or balance of the
racket, it wanted to avoid overwhelming its customers
with too much information. "There are a lot of things
we can collect," says Zimmermann. "The question is
how do we present it to the consumer. That's the key
challenge for anyone developing sensor technology-
what information is relevant to the consumer as
opposed to what information is interesting to you. It's
difficult to balance those two aspects."
Having explored the idea of a smart racket for more
than ten years, Babolat knew what data would be
helpful for internal product development and support.
It was more difficult to figure out a simple interface for
the app that could be used by expert and novice alike.
"You really have to make sure you bring value to the
consumer," says Zimmermann. "The way you present
that data to them is what will make your product

"If you are a hardware
company, switching that
culture to support software and
Internet services turns out to be
incredibly difficult."
Irving Wladawsky-Berger
Visiting Lecturer of
Engineering Systems,
Massachusetts Institute of

successful. There are lots of sensors out there now.
Sometimes it's difficult for the consumer to understand
what value they bring and how, in the long run, they
will improve their lives."

A Software Revolution
The brains behind a smart product is software. But
incorporating that software development mind-set can
be a challenge for traditional product development. "If
you are a hardware company, switching that culture to
support software and Internet services turns out to be
incredibly difficult," says MIT's Wladawsky-Berger.
"One of the key challenges CTOs might face in this
future of connected products is the diversity of
disciplines required to make them work effectively,"
says Ensor of Cambridge Consultants. "They'll need
a lot of technical disciplines within one engineering
team that work well together."
At Babolat, there is continuous pressure to improve
the app to keep smart product users happy and
engaged. "Developing hard goods takes time," says
Zimmermann. "The speed of the market for the app
business is totally different. We're updating, at a
minimum, every three months." Zimmermann has
had to integrate some new skill sets into the company,

CTO Straight Talk | 11


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2


CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2