Connecting the Customer to your Engineering
If you are working in a modern engineering business using the latest tools, cracking the impossible problems and delivering market leading products and services then you’ll be familiar with the latest technologies designed to optimise your engineering. These technologies deliver; analysis and realistic simulation to designers so that they can quickly appraise and validate new concepts, collaboration (real time) with anyone/anywhere and are able to present and utilise your most valuable Intellectual Property and expertise, all driven by a central database that delivers powerful process and management tools to your key stake holders.
Not quite there yet? If not then you’ll no doubt be pleasantly reassured to know that you’ll find the steps to get there are becoming increasingly more attractive and the expertise required to support your adoption more readily accessible. You’ll also find that the process of integrating your customers into your business and locking them in to your products and services has taken a huge step forward.
The Short Lead Holding Engineering Back
A great deal of the inertia holding back engineering development has been structural and a history of specialism related to functional silos. At a business level this structure, which groups Sales & Marketing, Engineering, and Manufacturing & Service in their own functional ivory towers is a further division of the company that is being seen as a key hindrance to the smooth flow and easy access of information around your business.
Last surprisingly, but not least, is the integration of customers into your engineering. For many businesses it is last because the technology for a more direct connection hasn’t been around that long and traditionally this connection has been through the Marketing, Sales and Service divisions.
You would typically expect your Marketing colleagues to gather, interpret and test information and insights from markets whilst defining new product requirement information through research, focus groups and by meeting with key customer segments. The level of uncertainty (see Fig.1 below) associated with this activity is growing as is the rate of change accelerating within the business environment, leaving many traditional ways of delivering strategic information and direction failing. When you take a helicopter view of your business and its environment, instead of dealing with and planning for the rate of change, you may see that the marketing function looks more like a barrier than an enabler to development.
The changing role for Marketing
As a Marketer I’m as convinced now, as I ever have been, that the value the Marketing team add is crucial to the success of any engineering business. A great deal of the change we see all around us has a lot to do with the efforts of the marketing team who have embraced and lovingly cherish the opportunities promised by a digitised and information driven world.
As the engineering community are increasingly adopting a platform approach to their engineering, covering everything from concept through development and encompassing manufacturing, the ability to react quickly to change makes them ready to enjoy a closer relationship with customers and the marketplace. The skills and experience residing in Marketing is ideal to support and add value to this process.
This systems ability is being delivered for an increasing number by Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform but may be slightly outside the periphery of the engineering strategists and those charged with business development.
One of the biggest advantages that users say the 3DEXPERIENCE platform delivers is the ability to successfully manage significantly more very complex business processes with the same resources. This has proved to be the step change that many needed to expand their operations and address more opportunity in the market place whilst improving the quality and success of the products delivered. As on boarding high quality, experienced employees has its own short term negative impact on productivity, never lone the cost and existing employee investment required, an effective alternative solution to expansion than through staff acquisition is very much welcomed.
If your customers, primarily, issue requirements that require a response that includes a level of validation then you’ll be delighted to know that there is an entire process available within the platform to capture and respond professionally within a timeframe that can deliver considerable competitive advantage.
Once you bed in the platform and familiarise your business with the increased access to information, control and improved processes it will become increasingly evident that you can apply similar improvements to your relationship with the market and your customers.
When Marketing sits between customer/market and engineering you will always get a lengthening of the communication chain. Like ‘Chinese Whispers’ these forms of interpretive communication may lead to miss-understandings and a potentially expensive strategic direction applied to your business. It will certainly lengthen the time it takes to develop successful products and introduce them to the market and that can’t happen today.
In a previous life I have witnessed the incredible value derived from shortening the communication route from customer to engineer. The new role for Marketing is to facilitate and structure the customer/engineer interface and the technology is now well established to do that.
Today you have real time dash boarding of engineering processes to better manage projects. This facility can be extended into the market place by using Dassault Systèmes NETVIBES. It acts like your own personal guide to your market, competitors and more importantly your customers, delivering the ability to make better business decisions whilst taking into account the social context.
Time is now more than ever a precious commodity. Failure to accurately apply your resources in a way that will achieve your optimum result in your market is at best inefficient, at worst it’ll significantly weaken your position in the market and overall profitability.
A Golden time for Engineering has arrived
The reaction speed of your organisation to disruptive competitor activity and volatile market dynamics will be a more critical measure than ever before. Definition, confirmation, early concepts, prototypes, pre-production and production testing, service experience, search for innovative development, next solution exploration then back around the loop.
Connecting your business and including your customers, competitors (existing & emerging) together with key market indicators is eminently achievable. Just look around you at the companies that seem to emerge from nowhere with an effective and efficient business or the ones who consistently out perform their competition.
In a time where wild predictions such as autonomous emission free transport is starting to look more plausible and the crazy people making their predictions look decidedly more establishment and informed like they might know what they are talking about its probably time to take more notice about the ‘science fiction’ as it rapidly becomes more like ‘science fact.’
For more information about the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, please leave a comment below or email the Intrinsys team firstname.lastname@example.org.
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