Monday, 26 April 2010

Tomorrow's Manufacturer - Excellent Customer Service

I'm working on the first round table event which is going to deal with Excellent Customer Service. I've been fortunate enough to have been put in touch with Irene Ng (, whose research lends a provocative perspective to this area. Having read some of Irene's work, and having seen a broad range of Manufacturer's offering different levels of Customer Service and Support, I'm beginning to view it like this:
  1. Traditional Manufacturer. Offers “customer support” – i.e., if a product fails, they’ll come and reactively fix it
  2. Progressive Manufacturer / Today’s Manufacturer. Offers “customer service” – i.e., is able to proactively offer services alongside the product, to help the customer get the best from the product
  3. Tomorrow’s Manufacturer. Co-creates value with its customers within a value-based system. Barriers between product, service, supplier and customer are blurred and dynamic
I'm looking forward to what should hopefully be a lively debate in June!

Tomorrow's Manufacturer - The Key Battlegrounds

Drivers for change

Today’s Manufacturer exists in a rapidly changing, increasingly global marketplace. Decisions on how and where to locate facilities, what to make and what to buy, how to innovate and how to take new ideas to market are becoming more complex and less permanent. Value chains are becoming more fragmented and therefore more complex to manage, whereas customers are demanding more for less, more quickly.
Low cost manufacturing locations are more accessible, putting intense pressure on traditional manufacturers in developed economies. Existing concerns are also being given more urgent priority, such as environmental sustainability, supply chain risk and governance.

The accelerating pace of change

Furthermore, the pace of change will increase. Underlying trends in technology that drive some of these trends – such as available computing power per $ - are exponential. The growth in the number of connections and interactions between stakeholders – such as customer feedback events on social networking applications – is also exponential. And exponential growth has a habit of catching out those who are travelling along the flatter sections of the curve.

The need for focus

Tomorrow’s Manufacturer needs to embrace these changes, as good manufacturers have always embraced continuous improvement. In particular, there are 8 key strategic and operational deliverables, which in the coming years will mean the difference between being competitive, and being in decline.

The battleground for Tomorrow's Manufacturer is defined by 8 strategic deliverables:

  1. Increased value-add
  2. Effective co-innovation
  3. Optimised global value chains
  4. Mobile workforce
  5. Realtime connected enterprise
  6. Excellent customer service
  7. Efficient, sustainable operations
  8. Collaborative partner networks

Taking the next steps

Today’s Manufacturer may already be embarking on initiatives in some of these key battlegrounds. Indeed, if initiatives to transform one or more of these areas do not exist, CEOs should be asking “why not?”

What is certain is that there is existing technology, which can be implemented now, at low cost, to realise big gains in each of these areas.

Tomorrow’s Manufacturer will have a Strategy Map that ensures the Leadership Team and all its stakeholders are agreed on the priority objectives for the business. The list of 8 strategic deliverables will have been considered, and factored into the Map.

The Strategy Map will be the basis for a Technology Roadmap that describes how current – and future – technology will be used to support the business’s goals.

SAP enablers for change

For Tomorrow’s Manufacturers with SAP as part of their IT strategy, much of the enablers are bundled in core products, in which SAP has invested huge amounts of R&D over the last decade, to close the gap with what would have been viewed as a “best of breed” strategy.
For these manufacturers, the SAP portfolio will form the backbone of the Technology Roadmap that supports the new Strategy Map.

And its reach will extend into surprising parts of Tomorrow’s Manufacturer’s operations.

Tomorrow's Manufacturer - Introduction

I am Dan Hawker, a founder and director of a company called Bluefin, which specialises in helping organisations increase their business performance with SAP technologies.

I look after the Manufacturing sector for our organisation, and this blog is part of my contribution to the debate on how Manufacturers can adapt and win in what a lot of people term the "new reality".

Over the next few months, I'll be outlining the key battlegrounds that I think will shape Tomorrow's Manufacturer. For each one, I'll aim to provide some insight into how organisations can win in each of these battlegrounds.

I hope you'll find it of interest, and I'll be looking out for comments and feedback.