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Moving on: High-Tech Manufacturers Chart Their Evolution

Moving on: High-Tech Manufacturers Chart Their Evolution

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When high-tech manufacturers refine their business to deliver exactly what customers need, inviting their collaborative engagement in helping you improve your products, they may be happy to work with you as long as they’re in business. However, optimizing production to meet individual customers’ requirements and delivering services like proactive maintenance, asset management, or strategic consulting can be extremely expensive, even if you keep acquiring new customers and your long-term clients don’t stray. It can also pose regulatory and data-protection challenges you need to address.

Freeing innovation and value delivery from waste

You can make customer-driven innovation profitable if you eliminate frictions and inefficiencies from your processes, in addition to letting go of any practices that don’t contribute to customer value. For every company, there will be different processes and activities that distract from that unwavering focus on value and productivity. You need to identify these bottlenecks and replace them with efficient, value-creating activities. In some high-tech companies, standardizing and outsourcing the manufacturing of components and instead performing customized assemble-to-order production may be less wasteful than the fully in-house manufacturing they may be accustomed to. In other high-tech businesses, the workflows from presales, to quoting, to engineering design and on to production may be too lengthy and cumbersome or prone to error, requiring people to use a variety of technology systems and perform multiple hand-offs. In our experience, simplifying these activities is relatively easy and can make a huge difference in terms of customer outcomes. Ensuring compliance with regulatory frameworks in this context can be highly rules-based and, to a degree, preconfigured and automated in your business management software.

Sound transition models are well supported by technology

For some high-tech manufacturers, removing obstacles to value creation could mean rebuilding the in-house sales organization to create new networks of dealers and resellers instead of selling directly to customers. Partnering with companies whose strength is targeting the right verticals and regions and building market share can take much risk and anxiety out of business development. Or, they sell direct instead of through a dealer network, maintaining ownerships of their direct-customer relationships. In other companies, the most consequential transition may be that from fully standardized, product-driven manufacturing to project manufacturing. Fortunately, many successful project manufacturers have already demonstrated how to make this kind of production pay off. High-tech companies can draw on a rich spectrum of industry and business software solutions to manage it.

Customization meets standardization

When uncompromised customer focus demands that you operate at the best possible efficiency, standardization can be invaluable. Some highly successful high-tech manufacturers standardize on proven, repeatable product components and production processes as much as they can. A customer requirement will then rarely result in engineering from scratch. Instead, you combine as many of your standard elements as you can to build the customer’s solution. If your portfolio allows it, you can present customers with several interesting choices that deliver needed capabilities. Your business management platform can help you bring these components and sub-components into your manufacturing projects at the right time and in the appropriate quantities. That, in turn, may mean a new art and science of engaging the best suppliers and outsource production partners, which could be anywhere in the world.

Controlled, predictable technology modernization

In your high-tech evolution or Industry 4.0 journey, you want to keep change low-risk and predictable, always aligned with your customers and goals. There is no one software solution that fits every high-tech manufacturer, but there are likely several software systems that can provide almost every function you need, fit with the way your organization works, and help you meet regulatory and standards mandates. The traditional, once common software systems that could take years to deploy and require teams of IT specialists to manage, might not be the best platform for agile business. Modern business management solutions tend to be modular, so you can activate or implement capabilities when you need them. On the leading cloud platforms, integrations with other business systems or even data migrations can be standardized and easily configured to fit the business and remain manageable when technologies and operating conditions change. Instead of making one, large investment, you pay for the capabilities and computing resources you use. Modern software design aligns with the interests of innovative, customer-driven businesses that aim for continuous improvement. Leading solution providers regularly deliver enhancements and upgrades, and their products—maybe much like yours—evolve to meet the requirements of changing business roles.

Connected operations and experiences

Siloed operations are no longer the basic operational assumption in modern software architecture; instead, developers look to facilitate high-tech manufacturers’ efficient and seamless communications and collaborations among teams and companies. They also understand that the quality of the user experience in interacting with your organization and using your technology tools is paramount for keeping customers, employees, and business partners loyal and satisfied. The best of today’s business software emphasizes seamless workflows and policy-compliant handoffs, for instance, from sales, to product engineering, to manufacturing. It also prioritizes transparence and insight, giving your business roles visibility of the people, processes, equipment, facilities, suppliers, KPIs, and other information they need to see. Many processes, from invoice approvals to manufacturing quality management, can be further simplified and more easily controlled with automations that eliminate rote functions or draw attention to conditions that require action. In today’s cloud environment, you can give engineering or distribution partners secure access to a subset of your data they need.

Your best, next step forward

Sikich high-tech manufacturing teams have spent many years helping customers get ahead and become more valuable and competitive. We can help you chart a path for continuous improvement and make the best decisions for software solutions and technology strategies. Our solutions and expertise can also assist you in making business model transitions—for example, from pure manufacturing to production enhanced by services—smooth and profitable. If you build a secure, scalable, versatile technology foundation now, it can serve your business and grow with it for many years. We can help you navigate this important step on your terms, within your schedule, and within your budget. Contact us today.
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