Columbus hosted a wide-variety of business leaders at an exclusive one-day event focusing on technology’s role in driving change and how companies can successfully keep up.
On November 11, Columbus’ managing director, Mary Hunter, welcomed attendees to London’s prestigious Royal Horseguards.
In her opening address, Hunter noted that the world around us is changing, technology is swiftly moving, and posed the question, “How is your business keeping up?”
“Are you willing to change, is everyone in your team focused around the strategic goals of the business? If not, you are unlikely to be able to grow your business, or worse…”, she warned.
The MD referenced the study showing that in the 1920s, the average company lifespan on the S&P 500 Index was 67 years; in the 1980s that had fallen to 20 years, and in the 2010s it is just 15 years.
By the 2020s it could be even less, perfectly illustrating the fact that standing still is simply not a valid option, Hunter said.
She continued: “New competitors are coming from unexpected angles; disruptive organisations emerging in industry that have less overheads, employing technology and are often able to offer a superior customer experience, compared to older companies who are held back by legacy systems an large overheads.”
CEO of Hennik Group, Nick Hussey took to the stage to present one example of a successful change model, encompassing: urgency; coalition; vision; communication; empowerment; quick wins; persistence, and institutionalisation.
“The way we’ve traditionally mass produced things has been enabled by cheap labour, fuel and raw materials, leading to ‘ship and store’ business models and a large focus on selling. Ultimately, however, large swathes of what was produced has ended up in landfill.”
According to Hussey, there has been a complete reversal of the factors that made that mass production work, labour has become more expensive, the cost of energy has skyrocketed and materials have become increasingly scarce.
“There is now a fundamental need for change, summed up with the fourth industrial revolution or ‘Industry 4.0’ – the four key trends of which are: big data; advanced analytics; human-to-machine interfaces, and digital-to-physical transformation (additive manufacturing),” he explained.
The CEO sees the traditional lines of the value chain blurring, making the route between R&D; suppler management; production; route-to-market; after sales service; consumption, and disposal far more fluid.
“Every stage will become linked to the others through the internet of things (IoT) thanks to greater connectivity, and embedded data and advanced analytics, i.e. business intelligence (BI),” he described.
“Companies must create a digitalisation strategy focused on long-term objectives, find the resources to achieve it, centralise their R&D and become more responsive to data. My top tip would be to cosy up to the relevant catapult to your sector and better leverage the expertise and innovation that already exists.”
Microsoft Dynamics’ partner director, Vanessa Kyte explored the importance of technology and the opportunities it offers businesses to transform their customer service.
On average, Kyte noted, customers share good experiences 5-6 times, versus sharing bad experiences around 9-15 times. The proliferation of social media networks is expediting that process and offers customers a direct line to the businesses and brands they interact with.
“Analysts have repeatedly linked happy customers with profitable businesses,” she said. “Technology enables amazing customer experiences and allows companies to differentiate and become more agile.”
Agility was a cornerstone of the proceeding presentation by Chloe Stubbins, programme manager for the world’s largest online takeaway provider, JUST EAT.
In less than 15 years, the fast growing, fast paced organisation now offers food from more than 20,000 restaurant menus and operates in over a dozen countries.
According to Stubbins, the key to delivering a successful business transformation is knowing your audience, selling them the benefits and getting buy-in from everyone (usually by identifying value specific to them).
Columbus’ Simon Charlton will be speaking as part of the Manufacturing Services Thought Leadership Network (MSTLN) panel discussion at The Manufacturer’s Annual Leaders Conference (TMALC), which takes place on 25-26 November – and immediately precedes The Manufacturer MX Awards.
“Research is crucial; ask people their opinion and discover whether or not you already have some expertise in-house,” she commented.
“Ensure you promote the journey and its progress across the business, and engage with staff. Make collaboration easier using cloud-based project management tools, for example and don’t’ underestimate the time it takes to achieve a large-scale transformation project.”
Crucial to JUST EAT’s rapid growth and agility is its mantra to “Be Jammy”, Stubbins continued, not being afraid to have frank (and difficult) discussions, being open to innovation; being passionate and never putting yourself above the team.
Unable to attend in person, but joining proceeding via a pre-recorded video (fully embracing the event’s technology-focus), CIO of Domino’s Pizza, Colin Rees took delegates through the organisation’s ERP journey.
Covering the challenges (too many spreadsheets, an over-reliance on internal heroes, and too many delays early on), Rees explained that Domino’s chose to implement an ERP system for much the same reason that any business does: to improve business processes, to serve as a catalyst for change, and to adopt best practice.
“By successfully focusing on relationships (both internally with staff/departments, and externally with partners, such as Columbus), fostering business engagement and taking a standard approach, Domino’s has become far more agile and is more than ready for future growth,” he said.
Aston Business School’s director of strategic partnerships, Iain McKechnie welcomed delegates back after lunch with a presentation on the circular economy and servitization, explaining what they meant for businesses.
According to McKechnie, business growth lies at the intersection of the circular economy; information communication technologies (ICT); servitization (manufacturing services), and business model innovation.
By taking a more holistic approach to the lifecycle of products, moving away from purely product-focused business models to focus more on services, and combining ICT allows tremendous growth opportunities for organisations, especially manufacturers – regardless of size.
“Competitive strategies in manufacturing revolve around price, produce and package. Businesses typically compete and excel with just one at any given time, struggling with the other two. A circular economy mindset helps blur the lines between them and helps companies compete on all three simultaneously – unlocking value,” he enthused.
McKechnie said that due to lower margins, increased competition and less growth opportunities, revenue from purely product sales is around 3%, whereas revenue from advanced services can offer upwards of 30% growth.
He noted that many business, especially among the SME community, recognise that large firm are already transforming and moving towards implementing servitization, which raises the questions: how do firms keep up?; where do they start?, and who’s responsible for making manufacturing services contagious within the organisation?
“The internet of things represents a significant opportunity for businesses as it unites manufacturing services with the circular economy, arguably the two biggest trends currently impacting industry, However, we need a robust business model to successfully capitals on that opportunity,” McKechnie concluded.