The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Start With the Problem, Not the Technology w/ Jonathon Hensley


From Industry 4.0 to 3D printing to wearable technology, there are so many advancements happening in manufacturing.

But it's easy to get sidetracked by these shiny objects.

We need to focus on the problem or goal at hand first. And then APPLY the right-fit technology accordingly.

On this episode of the podcast, I invited Jonathan Hensley, co-founder and CEO of Emerge Interactive, a digital product consulting firm that works with companies to improve operational agility and customer experience.

Jonathon and I talked about:

  1. Digital products and services that might be applied in the industrial sector
  2. Customer experience in the data
  3. Changing operations, supply chain disruption, and labor retention in the manufacturing space

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Show, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or here.

The lack of these tools is reallyholding them back when it comes to the customer experience. The data side getsholding them back in their goals with kind of moving into industrial or pot noand advancement, you know, manufacturing practices and really how can they streamline andreinvent parts of their business to drive long term success? Welcome to the manufacturingexecutive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturersforward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling storiesto share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob salesand marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business.Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. The show is being brought to you by our sponsor, coudinas part solutions. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial MarketingAgency guerrilla. Seventy six so it's really easy to get excited about technology.For you, as a manufacturer, it's particularly and it particularly interesting time rightnow. You think industry for Point No, Iot d printing wearabell technology. There'sso many incredible advancements that have taken in shape of the last decade andeven over the last few years. But, like with any new technological advancement that'sever come about, we can also get really easily sidetracked by that ShinyObject Syndrome, and the reality is that technology is there to help us solvea problem or to achieve a goal, and we really need to start withthat problem or goal and then apply the right fit technology to it, soas opposed to forcing a fit where the technology can actually lead us off course. And sometimes let's start with the issue at hand. And so that bringsus to our guests for this week's episode. Today I'm talking with Jonathan Hensley,cofounder and CEO of emerge interactive, a digital product consulting firm that workswith companies to improve operational agility and customer experience. For more than two decades, Jonathan has helped organizations transform their businesses by turning strategy, user needs andnew technologies into valuable digital products and services. Jonathan writes and speaks about his experiencesand insights from his career and regularly hosts in depth interviews with business leadersand industry insiders. He lives in the Pacific northwest with his wife and twoboys. Originally from Silicon Valley, Jonathan got into digital product the but digitalproduct space inspired by the incredible people developing new technologies all around him and thepossibilities they unlocked. This fueled his curiosity to understand how technology transforms the wayin which people live and work, and that curiosity continue used to drive himtoday as he works to help businesses harness technology. Jonathan's work focuses on helpingleaders define the value they want to create in a sustinct and tangible way,where to focus, why and what it'll take to achieve that outcome. STAVORITEparty is going beyond the idea and mapping how you bring together people, Dataand processes so that clients can succeed. Jonathan, welcome to the manufacturing executive. Thank you so much for having me, Joe. Awesome. Well, Jonathan, turning new technologies into valuable digital products and services, as stated inyour bio, could mean a whole lot of things. So could you givethis manufacturing audience a better sense for what exactly we're talking about here, orwhat are examples of digital products or services that might be applied in the industrialsector. Sure, so on. We think of digital products or services,you can think of everything from your website that has moved beyond just a marketingtool is now part of the way that you deliver your products or services orearn hand seeing the value you're bringing to the market. You can think ofinternal business applications that need to be built,...

...that are replacing older, antiquated technologiesor physical processes and that can extend from Web, mobile or IOT technologiesas you look to innovate and to streamline your operations. Okay, great,and I heard you talk recently on another manufacturing podcast and something you said thatsort of stuck with me and really fueled my introduction to this episode was thatyou need to start with the problem, not the technology, and I completelyagree with you here. It applies to really so many different parts of runninga business. As a marketing guy, I hear things all the time likeI need a new website, I want to implement a software like up spotor whatever it might be, and I always respond by simply asking why,right, and then another why, and you kind of dig deeper there.But what you're really trying to get to is what's the problem that this organizationis trying to solve that has led them to this conclusion that they need thistechnology or this let's look at what you're trying to achieve first then figure outif a new website or help spot implementation or whatever is the best solution.So in your world, Jonathan, can you give a tangible example of,say, a common problem that you've seen a manufacturer experience that you've helped helpto break down before saying okay, and here's the technology fit to apply tothat problem? Absolutely so. A lot of times what we see is they'veyou know, let's you use a website, because everybody can relate to that,is that they have an existing website. And most people's websites are significantly underperforming, unfortunately, and the reason for that can be a combination of things. It might have a problem with proper positioning or marketing, the types ofthings that you're helping your client solved, but then it might go beyond that. Once the site goes into how does it facilitate the actual delivery or servicesthat a manufacturers providing? So how is the website helping you get order intakes? How are you educating a prospect? How are you differentiating between the buyerof your product and maybe the user of your product? In some and oftentimesthey're very different and or there's a very complex or different buying process depending onwhat type of product they're evaluating. And so when we come in and welook at that, we're really breaking down those problems into detail and tying themback about how they're impacting, you know, revenue, how they're driving costs thatthey shouldn't be incurring and those that are in charge of those websites aretypically dealing with their own frustrations and not only the lack of performance, butthose websites now don't have the flexibility or the scalability to adapt to the newstrategies and things that they're trying to do to drive those results because they haven'tbeen architected correctly, because the technology was a thought through in advance to allowthem to develop that skill and resilience. I think one example that I thinkhas been really good is John Dear did a good job with their mobile presencespecifically of trying to extend what's on their website and providing a sweet information andaccess points to their product offering and they were able to create a hub.They brought it all together as a unified experience. And what we've seen isa lot of manufacturers, when they start to move into that space, theystart to have a lot of one off digital properties, whether it be anyou know, and all of a sudden now they have a suite of APSand it becomes overwhelming to manage that and it starts to amplify issues that mayhave been underlined before they've even made that investment, where maybe now they haveinformation living in different places across the organization sort of instead of a single sourceof truth. And so I think John Gear did a really good job ofthinking that through in advance and applying a solution that could help them and thatwill be scale and manage the cost of operating that. So, Jonathan,when you and I were talking recently,... mentioned that there were two specificchallenges that tend to hold a lot of companies back, and those were oneand incomplete picture of the customer journey and then to data accessibility. Can Youunpack those two challenges for us a little bit? Absolutely do so. Thefirst one around customer experiencing a lot of organizations, especially in manufacturing today arehaving to look at how they're going to reinvent their business or modernize their business, and that's got to start with looking at consumer expectations, whether they aremanufacturing products that are four direct consumers or there a be to be manufacturer andfocusing in like a even on industrial level, you know, products and services.So what we see a lot is that there is now an expectation atall levels or having a consumer grade experience, and so that is challenging manufacturers tothink about much, much more in depth levels of design thinking and broadeningtheir understanding of what customer experience is and means and their organizations. And wesee some of the most advanced manufacturers out there, or I shouldn't shouldn't sayadvanced manufacturing, but those that are really, you know, driving, you know, their their markets, to be pushing those boundaries of what that lookslike for their space. I think GE health is a great example. Theyreally embrace the patient experience and driving that when they think about the innovation oftheir technology and what they're building for their customers. And so organizations today havea couple of really big things they need to do. The first one isthey need to come to an understanding at all levels, from the sea suitedown to the front line, of what does customer experience mean, and wefind that a lot of times they're that's pretty fragmented, and so it's reallyimportant to come to a consensus on what that means for their organization and whatbeing customer centric is. The second part is then mapping that customer journey.What does that buyers journey look like, whether it's direct purchase or maybe througha distributed dealer or other channels that they might have global markets that they're considering? They need to start to understand what is the buyer path, especially fororganizations that have been predominantly driven by, you know, sales or traditional kindof, you know, boots on the ground approach, and now during thesetimes they're having to look at what. We can't travel, we can't dohandson, we can't get people into show rooms or demos a way that weused to. So now we've got to think about technology and the way thatwe can use that to educate perspective buyers, enable people that are already active consumersof our product or service. How do we, you know, getthem through that funnel and allow them to self serve or address issues as wego forward, and so understanding that total picture is really critical. The secondthing that it does, that's we find around customer experience is that they're askingnow more than ever, teams across the organization to participate and how, notonly can we increase the overall experience for our customers, but how do wemanage our costs? And when you need people to start collaborating, everybody requiresthat total picture so they can really understand the scope of that customers experience,of what needs to be considered. And so by mapping that out and havingthat understanding, organizations are basically unlocking huge potential and identifying the areas of wherethey can focus that will make the most significant impact on their revenue and theirbottom line. And next piece to that is what you talked about on thedecide, and so we see a lot of organizations really struggling with this rightnow. This is both an issue and delivering on the customer experiences of muchas it is on how they operate internally, and it's there's a lot of justolder processes that are now in place that are being challenged. So somespecific examples of that is they might have...

...distributed tools across the organization, butthey all need the same set of information, or they're having duplicate work taking placeacross multiple parts and across teams, and if they had a better toolof better piece of software, they might be able to do that work once, increase their efficiency and have those people working on other things that are moreimportant. And so without that shared components and that data, they're really lockedinto these silos that are holding your organization back from from performing. I'll givea very specific example where both of these issues are holding back. A previousclient. They we had a client who was, you know, they attheir global manufacture. They produce industrial goods. They were really looking at like howdo we put new tools in the hands of our distribution partners and theirsystems? The way that they could manage that information was still fragmented. Therewere so many versions of it that it was going to take two years justto bring that together before they could put those tools in the hands of thosewho. Now those distributors are saying, well, if you can't get mewhat I need to sell your product, my business as at risk. Asa distributor, I need now to push on other product lines that might becompetitive to yours, and so there was this huge point of friction, thesense of urgency of we need to get our house in order internally so thatwe have we can capitalize on the opportunities in the needs of our distributors whoare driving our sales, that we've spent so many years building these relationships,and that really got amplified when people had to start working from home and dealershad to start closing doors to to their customers. So I think that,you know, we see in many, many cases that this is an issue. It also shows up in other areas, both on the customer side the dataside. Is when you don't have these things working together, you haveyou might have ten versions of a quote or, you know, multiple versionsof something that's floating out there, and how do you clearly know which oneis the right one? Or maybe you have two people working on the samething at the same time, but there's no way for them to collaborate orknow unless they're physically, you know, or virtually, you know, talkingto each other. And do you have a system that supports that? Andwe find in a lot of cases those processes that are not in place andtheir following kind of older models, running around with, you know, excelspreadsheets or even clipboard still to an extent, and following kind of their old,you know, standard operating procedures and these the lack of these tools isreally holding them back when it comes to the customer experience. The data sidegets holding them back in their goals with kind of moving into industrial or Potoand advancement, you know, manufacturing practices. And really how can they streamline andreinvent parts of their business to drive long term success? We're going totake a thirty second breather here for a word from our sponsor, cadenist partsolutions. Let's talk real quick about getting specified. Are you a component manufacturer? Maybe you sell architectural products to parks or large facilities. Engineers and architectsneed models of your products to test fit in their designs. That's where cadenuscomes in. They help you create a dynamic, shareable cad catalog you puton your website. Designers can preview the product from any angle and download itin the format they prefer. They get the data they need for their designand you get a fresh lead to add your marketing pipeline to get one ofyour products turned into an online d model for free. Use The code executiveat part Solutionscom. Slash executive good examples there. So in order to supportor deliver on the customer experience that you...

...know, sort of spected. Whatdo you think? What kind of things do companies need to be thinking aboutinternally? So internally we see a lot of interesting conversations that I think arepretty common right now happening around change in operations, supply chain disruption, Laborretention. These are all really big issues that a lot of manufacturers are beingfaced with. Those manufacturers that are lucky enough to be in high demand rightnow are also looking at capacity issues and how do they support that, andthen others are looking at on demand, you know manufacturing, and how theycan, you know, streamline that that process to be more efficient and effectiveso they can do smaller runs of product as well potentially. So what wesee happening internally right now is the need for that in order to deliver onthe customer experience. They in that data layer. If it's fragmented, theystart they need to start to have initiatives and start building tools that start consolidatingthose things and so we've seen organizations make huge investments into building basically what wewould call sources of truth. There are solutions that, you know, areallowing you to bring the information all together in one place so that, nomatter where you sit in the organization, you know you know what's a customerdoing with your products. What you know what's the actual propensity for a crossseller upsell opportunity? How can I increase the effectiveness of my marketing? Youknow, how do I drive, you know, more return on investment forspend? When I'm looking, so I where I can get a more completepicture of how prospective customers are engaging with us? On the employee side,we're seeing a lot of focus around employee safety right now. How can youuse things like mobile technologies or, you know, employee portals, things likethat to actually drive that retention, that feeling of safety and trust in theorganization? Being able to distribute benefits and other things containing education is a goodexample. That will increase that retention and engagement of your workforce and keeping them, you know, in you know, and committed to what you're doing anddriving your organization forward. When we think about like supply chain disruption, we'relooking at how, you know, how do you buy and and, youknow, move raw materials into your manufacturing process? What does that look like? Are you engaging with suppliers that have are going through that modernization themselves?We know we've talked to, a lot of, for example, buyers whoare looking at ways of, you know, how can I do more self service? The traditional maybe pick up the phone or shoot an email, gothrough the you know, the product catalog, virtual or not, is just notenough anymore. They want complete autonomy, self service capabilities, and this isfor seeing, you know, manufacturers and, you know, material providersto really think about how are we going to create an exchange and how doI understand in real time what might leak? You know, what leads are togetting these materials through? And it's you know, obviously I'm focused onthe on the operation and the software side and thinking about the customer experience,but these conversations usually quickly turn into also this is a way for us tomitigate much bigger risks around, you know, political concerns, you know resource scarcityissues, you know tax and tariffs that are as removing products globally.So these become very, very important for larger manufacturers, the stakes are evenhigher right now. I mean we have one client as an example. Theyhave they work with contract manufacturers to support their supply chain all over the world. They have a little over a thousand contract manufacturing facilities that they work withat different stages from different products that they produced, and so understanding how tomanage suppliers a more effectively and have that transparency and how they engage in informationso they know where to invest, what... are the best to invest intoto fliferate, you technologies, to innovate on their products and are they ableto deliver and meet that customer problem, you know problem? Are they ableto deliver on their brand promises? Those are becoming, you know, moredifficult and more complex than ever and technology is becoming the backbone of helping solvethose problems. Now, that's good. You're hitting on a lot of thingsthere that you are issues that everybody I talked to is experiencing, you know, Labor to supply chain, these are these are common struggles for manufacturers.What, Jonathan, what else would you like to add to this conversation thatI haven't asked you about, if anything? Well, I think that one thingthat comes up a lot is this just really simple question of where doI start? Yeah, or you know, we've got a lot of things inflight. How do we know we're doing the right things? And Ithink those are the right questions to be asking right now. And there's twothings that I would love to add to that, which we see from thetechnology side. One is, if you haven't really detail mapped your current stateof Your Business, you need to those that are actual if you have anidea and you're just moving forward with it. You know the statistic show eighty fourpercent of digital transformation initiatives fail, and that means either they completely failor they miss expectations, and usually that's because there is a strategic foundation that'smissing, and that foundation needs to start with mapping the current state of YourBusiness and you need to really understand that. And so a lot of the workthat we do is sometimes just that foundational step to set up organizations forsuccess. When you do that, you're able to prioritize and see the interdependenciesof your initiatives and understand how that's going to impact the bigger organization strategy andgoals you've set, whether that be still for two thousand and twenty or movinginto, you know, next year. So this is tried and true.It's you know, you see companies like Toyota that are famous for it,with their you know, focus on, you know, customer experience and howthey model and map current state to future state and then, you know,really being extremely disciplined and understanding what is the ideal state that they want toend in as a manufacturing and that's why the whole Toyota, you know,lean manufacturing process is been embraced by so many manufacturers and this is so wellstudied, is because they understand customer experience and operational agility come from from thatprocess. It's that deep understanding of the challenges and then applying your efforts andresources to the right things. So that that would be the first one.The second one is there are, I think in technology there's this promise alot or this kind of unspoken promise that technology is the solution. But technologyis only as good as the people and the processes that support it. Sowe going back to the website example. You know, a website is onlyas good as the people that are running that website in the process is thereto support them, and so this is where I think the it's really importantat organizations understand that when they are building these things like a website, thesemaybe a client portal or a something to support employee engagement and safety, thatthey are really treating these as products where there's a continued investment into making surethey their performances at their very best, where you're continuously driving discovering improvement tomake these things, you know, anchors in your business that will drive,you know, long term by ability. And so we see a lot ofthat house conversations happening right now, but there's not enough people who have theexperience to support that work and so it's a really important manufacturers find the rightpeople to support those processes so that they're...

...set up for success. Yeah,great, I think that's a really great point, a good way to puta bow on it. To Jonathan, so I can you tell listeners alittle bit about where and where they can learn more about emerging or active connectwith you online, you know, if they'd be interested talking how that starts. Absolutely. So best way to learn a little bit of more about emergeand myself is to go to emerge interactivecom we've got tons of free resources therefor listeners in our blog about developing digital solutions and products that I encourage everyoneto go check out if they like to from there, if they like toschedule. We offer a free consultation for anybody that's looking to engage in twodeveloping a digital product or service for potentially maybe they have one and it's justunderperforming and they're trying to figure out why or what they could do next andthey're looking for that sounding boarder, that opportunity of how they can move forward. You know, I encourage everybody to reach out to us. We'd loveto spend the time and talk about how we might be able to help.It sounds like a no brainer. If you're this is the stuff that's onyour mind, which for a lot of our listeners, I know it willbe. So encourage everybody go take a look at what emerge is doing andtake Jonathan up on that. So, before we wrap this up, Iwant to say thank you once again to our sponsor, codinus part solutions,for helping make this episode of reality, and Jonathan, thanks to time forbeing a guest today. Thank you so much for having me, Joe,was great. You Bet. As for the rest of you, I hopeto catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive you've been listening tothe manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribeto the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more aboutindustrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for bedb manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learnthank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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