Matching what the customer needs in real-time will enable manufacturers to be more like traditional craftsmen.
Say the word ‘manufacturing’ to most people, and they’ll think of mass produced goods, which are anonymous, standardized, common-place. But, if you go back to the original meaning of the word ‘manufacture’ you’ll find a surprise: ‘the process of making wares by hand or machinery.’ Split the word in two and you get its Latin root; manu factus, literally, made by hand.
So, what’s that got to do with ‘Servitization’? In my opinion, it has a lot to do with it. What smart manufacturers are doing is leveraging the transformative power of digital to focus not on things, but on business outcomes. That enables them to offer goods on a royalty basis, or achieve Lot Size 1 for around the same cost as mass-producing thousands of goods.
It is what customers want and expect. At a time when there’s pressure on capital expenditure budgets and a move toward a more opex focused approach, the ability of manufacturers to supply goods through a different and more responsive business models is vital. It also helps all concerned to focus on quality and differentiation. The era of the craftsman is back.
When the typical manufacturing business model was based on mass production, the goods left the factory and, save for technical support, there was very little need for an ongoing relationship with the customer. Delivering the batch on time was the key priority.
Now, ‘servitization’ is extending and deepening the relationship between the manufacturer and the customer. It is a constant dialogue. The manufacturer has a stake in the quality of the product and its daily usage. The customer can rely on the manufacturer to ensure the product keeps working optimally, and delivers revenue. The relationship is closer to the original craftsman-customer model that existed in the centuries before mass production. Technology within the factory – as the whitepaper points out – is also freeing humans to focus more on quality and innovation. Makers get to work on a product from beginning to end, not just be cogs in a machine.
That change is, I believe, profound. The great 19th century American poet, Walt Whitman, said that each job of work was a ‘meditation.’ Digital is enabling us to turn every product into a discussion about quality and desired outcomes – which is what the new whitepaper from Fujitsu, Transforming Manufacturing: Co-creating the digital factory, considers. It contains some fascinating insights into the forward-thinking way manufacturers are using digital technologies to offer their customers a more personal, specific and real-time service.