For 30 years, David Mackenzie has been helping businesses solve problems by applying innovative processes and deep awareness of new technology to product development. Now he is VP of Product Development at Prodigy (formerly ITE), which provides innovative design and engineering capabilities to help clients create brand-leading and functionally superior products. Prodigy supports clients throughout the entire product development process, from early ideation and discovery, through development, and all the way to product launch.
The Prodigy team recently joined Blues at CES. We sat down with David to hear about the CES experience, talk about IoT product development, and the power of collaboration to drive better results and increase project ROI.
Can you tell us a little bit about Prodigy?
The company started 36 years ago as ITE (Integrated Technologies Engineering), but we now operate as Prodigy. We launched our rebrand as Prodigy at the CES show, where we exhibited with Blues.
We are a Product Development firm that designs products for and with our customers. Our team is made up of Electrical (Firmware and Hardware), Software, Systems and Mechanical Engineers along with PMP-Certified Project and Program Managers.
But we’re more than a product design and development firm—we use the power of client and partner collaboration to bring groundbreaking products to market, faster. By establishing deep working relationships with our clients and drawing on our broad bench of specialized expertise, we quickly create products that give our customers a competitive advantage.
As a development company, it is our clients’ requirements that lead to the creation of a product. We do inspire them, though, by showing them what other clients have done.
Prodigy exhibited with Blues at CES. How was your experience?
Prodigy could not have had a better CES show! Having Blues host us in your booth with other partners created a unique environment for attendees. Lots of other booths just showed off their latest tech, but Blues invested a great deal in demonstrating how your technology is practically used, and — importantly for us — how to take an innovative product idea and bring it to life through the product development process.
The results of being hosted in the Blues booth has been immediately positive. We already have meetings scheduled with innovative companies looking to bring their Blues-infused products to market. We also got to meet other potential technology partners.
Were there any surprising or inspiring moments at CES?
A great surprise and inspiration was getting to meet Dr. Ray Ozzie! As a former Lotus Notes fanboy, it was awesome. He took the time to meet each vendor and understand what was being showcased. Prodigy actually used two of our co-ops’ (Ryan Logsdon and Cory Gish) Senior Capstone Project from the University of Cincinnati to show the power of the Blues Notecard and how it can be used as a gateway to data immersion and exploration in the metaverse. Ryan actually showed me one of his computer science textbooks that mentioned Ray while he was literally standing 4 feet from us and thanking all of us partners!
What are you most proud of?
We are proud to deliver one of the industry’s most exceptional client experiences, and we’re proud of our strong reputation for creativity and speed. For example, Prodigy provides a low-cost, 30-day IoT pilot that proves a real ROI. Overall, we have created billions of dollars in value for our clients. Deep collaboration, speed, and our track record of delivering exceptional bottom-line results are the qualities define us and set Prodigy apart. That’s why over 97% of our clients return to us again and again!
Let’s talk about your customers. Who are they? What are their biggest challenges when it comes to IoT product development?
Our customers range from smaller/mid-size companies to the Fortune 100. They are innovators in the medical, consumer, commercial, capital equipment, industrial, and military spaces, all of which benefit immensely from IoT technologies. Most of our clients would describe their business challenge as the continual need to provide innovative and competitive products to their customers that generate a profit. We work with clients all over the globe who are faced with getting innovative products to market in a timely and cost-effective manner while minimizing risk.
But IoT product development is not simple – often, our clients do not have enough expertise internally to develop some aspect of a product. There are so many existing products that could benefit greatly from the infusion of IoT technology, but there are many technical problems to solve.
Prodigy helps solve IoT challenges in many ways, and we have a program that gets customers up and running with a fully functional IoT pilot in less than 30 days. Technology like the Blues Notecard are technically sound and cost effective. It can be integrated into almost any product/pilot and later scaled for production. Production is important to note in this post-pandemic environment. The Notecard is not only a great IoT element, it is AVAILABLE when needed to get products in customers hands.
What kind of products do you develop with your clients?
Our innovations include everything from a child’s sippy cup to advanced surgical robotic devices. We often integrate advanced technologies into products, like the Blues Notecard, making them smart and connected.
Can you talk about any specific products or client success stories?
Inspired by driving his Tesla electric vehicle, the owner of Cold Jet — the pioneer and global leader in dry ice blasting technology — challenged his firm to design and build a modern ice blaster that was both robust and functional.
Cold Jet envisioned an aesthetically pleasing design that included:
(1) new functionality;
(2) global Industrial IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) cloud connectivity and data analysis, and
(3) a Digital HMI (Human Machine Interface) that offers, amongst other things, the ability to save settings and to improve the overall user experience.
To assist with this product development strategy, Prodigy’s electrical engineering and project management teams worked with Cold Jet’s mechanical engineers to design a new and revised dry ice blaster machine in alignment with this vision. Cold Jet achieved clear ROIs from the product development strategy, which completely modernized and redesigned its flagship dry ice blaster machine.
Since the launch of the initial machine, Cold Jet has sold thousands of units. Customers have also reported the benefits of using new product features — like the settings recipe function, global IIoT connectivity, predictive analytics to prevent machine downtime, remote management of machines, and improved user experience via the modern Digital HMI.
What are some unique challenges you face in your role as a product designer and developer?
Product Development is all about navigating risks and challenges. One challenge is developing a clear ROI before putting pencil to paper. We apply our experience in created connected products to help clients develop a meaningful ROI.
Our biggest pain points are global connectivity, data plan cost, and supply-chain gaps (product availability). During the global supply shortage, availability of the devices is a huge factor. We are constantly seeking out solutions that are affordable, consistently available, and scalable. When we find solution providers that meet these needs, we stay with them. That’s why Prodigy has worked with Blues since Blues launched.
What do you enjoy about working with Blues?
When I first heard about Blues, I thought it looked compelling due to global coverage and the cost-effective data plan. On top of that, another solution provider had months of depleted inventory while Blues had hardware available. The Blues Notecard allows Prodigy to quickly integrate a cellular IoT modem into both a pilot and a production solution. It is robust, straightforward to program, and offers a great cloud-based console to manage a fleet and integrate data into other cloud services.
Blues is a fantastic partner. They are responsive and are there to support us, and more importantly, our customers at every step of their journey to bring innovative products to market. It is truly a delight to work with them! Pavan, for example, is a pleasure to work with and partner with!
Prodigy will continue to bring bold ideas to life through our partnership with our customers and our partnerships with best-in-class technology providers like Blues!
What’s next for Prodigy?
For the last 36 years, we have been ITE (Integrated Technologies Engineering). When we began there was no Internet, now we’re developing IoT devices. To enable innovative solutions, we must be relentless in seeking out and leveraging the best new technologies to exceed our customers’ expectations. We look forward to the next stage of our journey as Prodigy and as a premier Product Development Partner of Blues!
Are you an IoT product development firm interested in becoming a Blues partner? Learn more about the Blues Partner Program.