Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018: Embracing hyper-personalisation

In their keynote at this year’s Manufacturing Innovation Summit, Configure One’s Jon Lidbury and David Ray explored the growing trend around hyper-personalisation.

David Ray, Configure One's director of enterprise solutions, speaking at Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
David Ray, Configure One’s director of enterprise solutions, speaking at Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

Following a packed morning of roundtable conversations, Configure One’s Jon Lidbury (director, EMEA) and David Ray (director, enterprise solutions) took to the stage to deliver their Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018 keynote.

The keynote discussed how manufacturers are having to take more innovative approaches to cater for specific customer requirements, and highlighted some of the new tools available to help support companies with this complex problem.

It is generally agreed that the first shoe was created sometime around 1600BC, Lidbury noted, yet what’s interesting is that as late as the 19th century, shoes were made with no difference between the right and left shoe.

“The options we take for granted today, like selecting colour, materials, laces, and style were of course, either just not available or weren’t even a consideration,” he said.

Jumping forward to the 1920s and Henry Ford’s Model T was famously available in any colour… so long as that colour was black! Clearly, the options available to customers were still very limited; however, 34 years ago, in 1984, Dell was founded and is widely recognised as an early progenitor of consumer personalisation.

“Dell were the forerunner of current configure price quote [CPQ] tools and for the first time gave users a glimpse of what personalisation could achieve,” Lidbury said.

From those roots, we are now experiencing personalisation on a grand new scale. Every major automotive manufacturer, for example, now offers personalisation on a mass market scale – demonstrating how far companies are willing to go to drive new business.

Hyper-personalisation is becoming a consumer expectation

The above statement may be true, Lidbury continued, yet manufacturers have typically been lagging behind this trend due to the complexities involved in managing the variability in the products and the specific requirements of their customers.

That being said, there are a number of forward-thinking manufacturers who are embracing hyper-personalisation and pushing themselves to be the first in their segments to offer personalised products at scale.

Executives gathered at Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018 to explore the need to disrupt or be disrupted - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
Executives gathered at Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018 to explore the need to disrupt or be disrupted – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

“This transition to mass-customisation is disrupting the traditional production process in unprecedented ways, causing businesses to rethink their complete sales, design and manufacturing strategies. However, managing that end-to-end process is complex, and becoming more so,” Lidbury warned.

The drive for hyper-personalisation is seeing manufacturers discover new and innovative ways to streamline their internal processes in support of ever growing customer demands,” David Ray added. “But what does that actually mean?”

Ray offered four examples:

Personalised customer experiences – customers are increasing expecting B2B processes to mirror the capabilities provided as part of the modern B2C experience. They know what they want and are no longer willing to accept what the masses ask for.

Product customisation – customers expect to be able to order products that are more tailored to their individual needs and requirements, versus simply ordering off-the-shelf goods.

Customer engagement – customers have quickly become smarter about your – and your competitors’ – products, and are seeking a more robust interaction as part of the quotation and ordering experience. Customer engagement will be expected to include elements that strengthen loyalty, such as higher quality, more frequent and robust feedback loops, best in class service, and ongoing support services.

Customer interaction – customers will expect future interactions to far more enriching engagements, that includes collaboration or co-designing opportunities at far earlier stages.

The role of configure price quote (CPQ) tools

Increasingly, CPQ systems are an enabler of hyper-personalisation, Ray continued. “They allow manufacturers to offers thousands of variations of their products, they organise specification to capture information in a consistent, efficient manor, and they automate customer deliverables such as quotes, proposals, specifications and engineering drawings,” he explained.

“Additionally, they can provide rich visualisation and content to the user community to allow for better alignment of product use; automate inputs to manufacturing processes such as bill of materials, routings and engineering outputs; and provide a base for data analytics tied to hyper-personalisation and allow for feedback loops in the design process.”