In a country where being an engineer used to have negative connotations it’s quite rewarding to see the rise of engineering and the influence it now welds within the entire organisation.
Engineering has undergone an amazing transformation during its’ escape from the shop floor, oily rag perception of not that many years ago. Driven by industry wide enthusiasm for Big Data, Industry 4.0, The Internet of Things and Additive Manufacturing, our constant drive to do things better is shaping the world of tomorrow.
There has also been an explosion of consumer interest in technology which has been encouraged by new devices and applications heralded by social interfaces and contact, live event participation & news, interactive everyday experiences, and a cleaner automated world that delivers hassle free travel, living and eating. Even my techy sons-in-law, who might once have been described as geeky, have a new persona. Tech is the new chic and we just can’t get enough of it.
These are the functions who identify and analyse consumer trends and requirements for your products, drive innovation with concise information on the potential of your markets and support customers through their changing buying cycles. They are having to become more agile as consumer demand becomes savvier and more focused on a personalised experience. Plus, if you think it’s not relevant to B2B markets, forget it.
Expectations have made the jump and your business customers are looking for that retail experience from you as a supplier. This requirement for greater agility is driving organisations to seek better information from their markets. It also requires their business to not only support its gathering but its application. In response engineering have developed automated innovation processes to provide new products with the potential to be market leading and as a minimum requirement achieve greater profitability.
At the same time engineering are using intelligent engineering principles to produce products with shorter delivery times. Optimised product design and development also has to maximise the potential earnings from market segments that are becoming smaller and more transient. I like to think about the analogy of an automatic self-targeting gun. Selecting targets, locking-on and dispatching. The targets are getting smaller and their speed increasing. Some observers have suggested that ROI, a traditional measure of business success, is on its way out. I don’t believe it is but what is clear is that ‘time to market’ is becoming increasingly more important if you want to achieve a return on investment.
The accelerating rate of change will catch companies out. Take Norway’s plan to ban all fossil fuel cars by 2025. What might be the potential impact on companies that have plans to develop ICE and hybrid powertrain technologies over 10 and 15 year periods? When bringing new product to market requires several years of design and development finding the balance between risk and reward becomes increasingly more difficult.
Every company will find that their market has moved on by the time a new product is ready. This is particularly relevant when the actual demand for a product is subject to the change caused by disruptive technologies and their ability to shake up the status quo.
There are some significant opportunities and it is time for Sales & Marketing to knock a little harder on engineering’s door, if they are not already all over them. It may seem a little strange to turn away from creative agencies to present your products to your customers but who knows your products better that the people who design and develop them.
Customer preference has moved away from the smoke and lights of carefully styled presentation to wanting to have their choice represented in a lifelike virtual world. We’ve seen the rise of simulation and rendering products that can create a lifelike experience that is an increasingly marginal second to the actual product experience. Besides you can’t change the colour, performance and feel at the touch of a key stroke to produce a product, well not yet anyway.
In fact why not cut out the middle men and 3D print your product, configured and finished to your customers precise and possibly unique requirements. Sounds a bit farfetched but it is happening now. Even the aerospace industry is accepting Additive Manufacturing (AM) spares, and you might know how careful they are with quality.
You might not want to break the links you have with your creative support quite yet but exploring the opportunities that could emanate from your engineering is highly recommended. With less reliance on specialist agencies you may well develop a closer relationship with the customer experience and a better working partnership with your own business. So why not pop down to engineering and find out what they can do to support the Sales & Marketing function of your business, you may be surprised.