Now that all kinds of products are increasingly getting connected to the Internet, it is expected that it will become easier to collect data on how they are actually used during the middle-of-life stage of their product lifecycles. At the same time, a growing number of data analytics technologies offers opportunities to transform this data into actionable knowledge. Over the years, such knowledge extracted from usage data has already become a reliable input for managing maintenance and related services, but other uses such as feedback to design — where product data management systems have started to offer support for data collection practices — and providing advice to end users are now also being considered. Most data from sensors and other product-embedded information devices are collected in batches and analyzed retrospectively. In order for companies to further benefit from data collection in terms of efficacy and acceptance in society, two key challenges are (i) finding ways to effectively use data analytics techniques — which currently do not seem to be used to their full potential, and (ii) finding a good trade-off between respecting privacy and yet producing useful knowledge.

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