The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 2 years 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

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The lack of these tools is really holding them back when it comes to the customer experience. The data side gets holding them back in their goals with kind of moving into industrial or pot no and advancement, you know, manufacturing practices and really how can they streamline and reinvent parts of their business to drive long term success? Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and 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 Marketing Agency 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 right now. You think industry for Point No, Iot d printing wearabell technology. There's so many incredible advancements that have taken in shape of the last decade and even over the last few years. But, like with any new technological advancement that's ever come about, we can also get really easily sidetracked by that Shiny Object Syndrome, and the reality is that technology is there to help us solve a problem or to achieve a goal, and we really need to start with that problem or goal and then apply the right fit technology to it, so as 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 brings us 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 works with 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 and new technologies into valuable digital products and services. Jonathan writes and speaks about his experiences and insights from his career and regularly hosts in depth interviews with business leaders and industry insiders. He lives in the Pacific northwest with his wife and two boys. Originally from Silicon Valley, Jonathan got into digital product the but digital product space inspired by the incredible people developing new technologies all around him and the possibilities they unlocked. This fueled his curiosity to understand how technology transforms the way in which people live and work, and that curiosity continue used to drive him today as he works to help businesses harness technology. Jonathan's work focuses on helping leaders 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. STAVORITE party is going beyond the idea and mapping how you bring together people, Data and 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 in your bio, could mean a whole lot of things. So could you give this manufacturing audience a better sense for what exactly we're talking about here, or what are examples of digital products or services that might be applied in the industrial sector. Sure, so on. We think of digital products or services, you can think of everything from your website that has moved beyond just a marketing tool is now part of the way that you deliver your products or services or earn hand seeing the value you're bringing to the market. You can think of internal business applications that need to be built,...

...that are replacing older, antiquated technologies or physical processes and that can extend from Web, mobile or IOT technologies as 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 that sort of stuck with me and really fueled my introduction to this episode was that you need to start with the problem, not the technology, and I completely agree with you here. It applies to really so many different parts of running a business. As a marketing guy, I hear things all the time like I need a new website, I want to implement a software like up spot or 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 organization is trying to solve that has led them to this conclusion that they need this technology or this let's look at what you're trying to achieve first then figure out if 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 help to break down before saying okay, and here's the technology fit to apply to that problem? Absolutely so. A lot of times what we see is they've you 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 of things 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 services that 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 buyer of your product and maybe the user of your product? In some and oftentimes they're very different and or there's a very complex or different buying process depending on what type of product they're evaluating. And so when we come in and we look at that, we're really breaking down those problems into detail and tying them back about how they're impacting, you know, revenue, how they're driving costs that they shouldn't be incurring and those that are in charge of those websites are typically dealing with their own frustrations and not only the lack of performance, but those websites now don't have the flexibility or the scalability to adapt to the new strategies and things that they're trying to do to drive those results because they haven't been architected correctly, because the technology was a thought through in advance to allow them to develop that skill and resilience. I think one example that I think has been really good is John Dear did a good job with their mobile presence specifically of trying to extend what's on their website and providing a sweet information and access 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 is a lot of manufacturers, when they start to move into that space, they start to have a lot of one off digital properties, whether it be an you know, and all of a sudden now they have a suite of APS and it becomes overwhelming to manage that and it starts to amplify issues that may have been underlined before they've even made that investment, where maybe now they have information living in different places across the organization sort of instead of a single source of truth. And so I think John Gear did a really good job of thinking that through in advance and applying a solution that could help them and that will be scale and manage the cost of operating that. So, Jonathan, when you and I were talking recently,... mentioned that there were two specific challenges that tend to hold a lot of companies back, and those were one and incomplete picture of the customer journey and then to data accessibility. Can You unpack those two challenges for us a little bit? Absolutely do so. The first one around customer experiencing a lot of organizations, especially in manufacturing today are having 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 are manufacturing products that are four direct consumers or there a be to be manufacturer and focusing 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 at all levels or having a consumer grade experience, and so that is challenging manufacturers to think about much, much more in depth levels of design thinking and broadening their understanding of what customer experience is and means and their organizations. And we see some of the most advanced manufacturers out there, or I shouldn't shouldn't say advanced manufacturing, but those that are really, you know, driving, you know, their their markets, to be pushing those boundaries of what that looks like for their space. I think GE health is a great example. They really embrace the patient experience and driving that when they think about the innovation of their technology and what they're building for their customers. And so organizations today have a couple of really big things they need to do. The first one is they need to come to an understanding at all levels, from the sea suite down to the front line, of what does customer experience mean, and we find that a lot of times they're that's pretty fragmented, and so it's really important to come to a consensus on what that means for their organization and what being 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 through a 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 for organizations that have been predominantly driven by, you know, sales or traditional kind of, you know, boots on the ground approach, and now during these times they're having to look at what. We can't travel, we can't do handson, we can't get people into show rooms or demos a way that we used to. So now we've got to think about technology and the way that we can use that to educate perspective buyers, enable people that are already active consumers of our product or service. How do we, you know, get them through that funnel and allow them to self serve or address issues as we go forward, and so understanding that total picture is really critical. The second thing that it does, that's we find around customer experience is that they're asking now more than ever, teams across the organization to participate and how, not only can we increase the overall experience for our customers, but how do we manage our costs? And when you need people to start collaborating, everybody requires that 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 having that understanding, organizations are basically unlocking huge potential and identifying the areas of where they can focus that will make the most significant impact on their revenue and their bottom line. And next piece to that is what you talked about on the decide, and so we see a lot of organizations really struggling with this right now. This is both an issue and delivering on the customer experiences of much as it is on how they operate internally, and it's there's a lot of just older processes that are now in place that are being challenged. So some specific examples of that is they might have...

...distributed tools across the organization, but they all need the same set of information, or they're having duplicate work taking place across multiple parts and across teams, and if they had a better tool of 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 more important. And so without that shared components and that data, they're really locked into these silos that are holding your organization back from from performing. I'll give a very specific example where both of these issues are holding back. A previous client. They we had a client who was, you know, they at their global manufacture. They produce industrial goods. They were really looking at like how do we put new tools in the hands of our distribution partners and their systems? The way that they could manage that information was still fragmented. There were so many versions of it that it was going to take two years just to bring that together before they could put those tools in the hands of those who. Now those distributors are saying, well, if you can't get me what I need to sell your product, my business as at risk. As a distributor, I need now to push on other product lines that might be competitive to yours, and so there was this huge point of friction, the sense of urgency of we need to get our house in order internally so that we have we can capitalize on the opportunities in the needs of our distributors who are 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 dealers had 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 data side. Is when you don't have these things working together, you have you might have ten versions of a quote or, you know, multiple versions of something that's floating out there, and how do you clearly know which one is the right one? Or maybe you have two people working on the same thing at the same time, but there's no way for them to collaborate or know unless they're physically, you know, or virtually, you know, talking to each other. And do you have a system that supports that? And we find in a lot of cases those processes that are not in place and their following kind of older models, running around with, you know, excel spreadsheets 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 is really holding them back when it comes to the customer experience. The data side gets holding them back in their goals with kind of moving into industrial or Poto and advancement, you know, manufacturing practices. And really how can they streamline and reinvent parts of their business to drive long term success? We're going to take a thirty second breather here for a word from our sponsor, cadenist part solutions. 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 architects need models of your products to test fit in their designs. That's where cadenus comes in. They help you create a dynamic, shareable cad catalog you put on your website. Designers can preview the product from any angle and download it in the format they prefer. They get the data they need for their design and you get a fresh lead to add your marketing pipeline to get one of your products turned into an online d model for free. Use The code executive at part Solutionscom. Slash executive good examples there. So in order to support or deliver on the customer experience that you...

...know, sort of spected. What do you think? What kind of things do companies need to be thinking about internally? So internally we see a lot of interesting conversations that I think are pretty common right now happening around change in operations, supply chain disruption, Labor retention. These are all really big issues that a lot of manufacturers are being faced with. Those manufacturers that are lucky enough to be in high demand right now are also looking at capacity issues and how do they support that, and then others are looking at on demand, you know manufacturing, and how they can, you know, streamline that that process to be more efficient and effective so they can do smaller runs of product as well potentially. So what we see happening internally right now is the need for that in order to deliver on the customer experience. They in that data layer. If it's fragmented, they start they need to start to have initiatives and start building tools that start consolidating those things and so we've seen organizations make huge investments into building basically what we would call sources of truth. There are solutions that, you know, are allowing you to bring the information all together in one place so that, no matter where you sit in the organization, you know you know what's a customer doing with your products. What you know what's the actual propensity for a cross seller upsell opportunity? How can I increase the effectiveness of my marketing? You know, how do I drive, you know, more return on investment for spend? When I'm looking, so I where I can get a more complete picture 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 you use things like mobile technologies or, you know, employee portals, things like that to actually drive that retention, that feeling of safety and trust in the organization? Being able to distribute benefits and other things containing education is a good example. 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 and driving your organization forward. When we think about like supply chain disruption, we're looking at how, you know, how do you buy and and, you know, 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 who are looking at ways of, you know, how can I do more self service? The traditional maybe pick up the phone or shoot an email, go through the you know, the product catalog, virtual or not, is just not enough anymore. They want complete autonomy, self service capabilities, and this is for seeing, you know, manufacturers and, you know, material providers to really think about how are we going to create an exchange and how do I understand in real time what might leak? You know, what leads are to getting these materials through? And it's you know, obviously I'm focused on the 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 to mitigate much bigger risks around, you know, political concerns, you know resource scarcity issues, you know tax and tariffs that are as removing products globally. So these become very, very important for larger manufacturers, the stakes are even higher right now. I mean we have one client as an example. They have 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 with at different stages from different products that they produced, and so understanding how to manage suppliers a more effectively and have that transparency and how they engage in information so they know where to invest, what... are the best to invest into to fliferate, you technologies, to innovate on their products and are they able to deliver and meet that customer problem, you know problem? Are they able to deliver on their brand promises? Those are becoming, you know, more difficult and more complex than ever and technology is becoming the backbone of helping solve those problems. Now, that's good. You're hitting on a lot of things there 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 that I haven't asked you about, if anything? Well, I think that one thing that comes up a lot is this just really simple question of where do I start? Yeah, or you know, we've got a lot of things in flight. How do we know we're doing the right things? And I think those are the right questions to be asking right now. And there's two things that I would love to add to that, which we see from the technology side. One is, if you haven't really detail mapped your current state of Your Business, you need to those that are actual if you have an idea and you're just moving forward with it. You know the statistic show eighty four percent of digital transformation initiatives fail, and that means either they completely fail or they miss expectations, and usually that's because there is a strategic foundation that's missing, and that foundation needs to start with mapping the current state of Your Business and you need to really understand that. And so a lot of the work that we do is sometimes just that foundational step to set up organizations for success. When you do that, you're able to prioritize and see the interdependencies of your initiatives and understand how that's going to impact the bigger organization strategy and goals you've set, whether that be still for two thousand and twenty or moving into, 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 how they 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 to end 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 well studied, is because they understand customer experience and operational agility come from from that process. It's that deep understanding of the challenges and then applying your efforts and resources 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 a lot or this kind of unspoken promise that technology is the solution. But technology is only as good as the people and the processes that support it. So we going back to the website example. You know, a website is only as good as the people that are running that website in the process is there to support them, and so this is where I think the it's really important at organizations understand that when they are building these things like a website, these maybe a client portal or a something to support employee engagement and safety, that they are really treating these as products where there's a continued investment into making sure they their performances at their very best, where you're continuously driving discovering improvement to make these things, you know, anchors in your business that will drive, you know, long term by ability. And so we see a lot of that house conversations happening right now, but there's not enough people who have the experience to support that work and so it's a really important manufacturers find the right people 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 put a bow on it. To Jonathan, so I can you tell listeners a little bit about where and where they can learn more about emerging or active connect with 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 emerge and myself is to go to emerge interactivecom we've got tons of free resources there for listeners in our blog about developing digital solutions and products that I encourage everyone to go check out if they like to from there, if they like to schedule. We offer a free consultation for anybody that's looking to engage in two developing a digital product or service for potentially maybe they have one and it's just underperforming and they're trying to figure out why or what they could do next and they'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 love to 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 on your mind, which for a lot of our listeners, I know it will be. So encourage everybody go take a look at what emerge is doing and take Jonathan up on that. So, before we wrap this up, I want to say thank you once again to our sponsor, codinus part solutions, for helping make this episode of reality, and Jonathan, thanks to time for being a guest today. Thank you so much for having me, Joe, was great. You Bet. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive you've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial 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 learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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