Live Product Innovation, Part 4: Configurable, Personalized Products For A Lot Size Of One

John McNiff

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at how in-memory computing affects live product innovation. In Part 2, we explored the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data on smart connected products. In Part 3, we approached the topic from the perspective of process industries. In Part 4, we examine what’s needed to achieve a “live” segment of one, a lot size of one.

Configure, price, quote. CPQ. We all like an acronym. CPQ has become its own sector, and just as product lifecycle management (PLM), the business strategy, was hijacked by CAD and engineering applications, CPQ has been hijacked by sales solutions. But that ignores what it means to configure.

We also now have configuration lifecycle management (CLM), which we thought might help articulate what’s required. But the definition of CLM seems to be going down a silo, as well.

The fact is that in a live business, building a lot size of one requires more than a fancy Web interface and configurator. It involves the complete process of defining, selling, building, shipping, servicing, and maintaining a product, system, or solution — connected, integrated, embedded, and intelligent throughout the full value chain.

Death of a salesman?

I’m not saying CPQ isn’t valuable. It is. Having your salesforce in the field with the customer, configuring a product on the spot with nice visualizations, certainly beats lugging around a catalog, spreadsheet, and mobile phone to check if options are allowable.

Website-based configurators likewise offer a super experience. But how long does it take to deliver? Automotive is often cited as the prime example, but delivery cycles range from six to 15 months. Without connection to design, manufacturing, fulfillment, and service, it’s still just a fancy Web interface.

A lot needs to be done before we get to the sales guy. Configuration engineers need to know the compatible options. Designers need to understand whether products are compatible across hardware and software. Logistics needs to determine whether parts and combinations can be sourced and delivered. Suppliers need to know when to supply components. And so on.

Convergence on a platform for change

Product data, configurations, bills of materials (BOMs), and variants are integral to designing, selling, and making personalized products. But PLM comes from an engineering-only view. CPQ comes from a sales-only view. Manufacturing comes from a production-only view. Three domains, all with different views of the same product.

What’s changing now is the speed required to deliver a lot size of one. Consumers are no longer willing to wait 15, six, or even three months. Innovation is moving from mechanical features to embedded software, driving a need to condense design cycles – and a convergence of silos. Non-integrated, non-real-time solutions won’t support the next wave.

You need real-time intelligence not only to understand customer needs but also to provide designers and configurators with analysis to help them determine what will work, what can be sold, and what might be compatible. That also affects the supply chain, because partners need to know which parts are allowable and when they need to ship.

Once it’s designed and ordered, you must build and ship the configuration to specification. That doesn’t just involve which components have been selected. It also affects the definition of parameters, tooling, inspections, certifications, and so on. The production system must be updated with the exact configuration and build definition for the single unit coming into production. The shop floor system needs this data synchronized in real time. The same goes for calls to suppliers and logistics.

The result is essentially a distributed design function with concurrent, parallel lifecycles and lifetimes. Even for large, complex products, while the core platform might involve a multi-year program, shipping in configurable, custom designs occurs on a much shorter cycle. Yet you still need to synchronize and control everything from order to end customer.

The good news is that a solution is on the horizon. A platform for managing live product innovation can link engineering configuration with sales and manufacturing configuration. Such a solution must offer:

  • The ability to be not only integrated but also embedded across sales, design, manufacturing, supply chain, and service
  • A real-time data architecture powered by in-memory computing to correlate Big Data from “things” and people directly with business processes and systems of record
  • Intelligent tools for machine learning, prediction, and real-time analytics to help your people recommend and validate configurations and options that can be built and will sell
  • An open architecture to support “brownfield” realities and allow interconnectivity across systems

“Advanced variant configuration” is coming – and it will allow a live segment of one, lot size of one, for the first time.

Want to learn more about live product innovation? Join us at SAPPHIRE NOW May 16-18 in Orlando, Fla. We’ll be discussing these topics and more. Hope to see you there.

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John McNiff

About John McNiff

John McNiff is the Vice President of Solution Management for the R&D/Engineering line-of-business business unit at SAP. John has held a number of sales and business development roles at SAP, focused on the manufacturing and engineering topics.

Digitalist Flash Briefing: What Powers The World’s First Green Cargo System In Switzerland? The IoT

Bonnie D. Graham

Today’s briefing takes us to Switzerland where plans are underway for a greener, more efficient future – powered by the Internet of Things.

  • Amazon Echo or Dot: Enable the “Digitalist” flash briefing skill, and ask Alexa to “play my flash briefings” on every business day.
  • Alexa on a mobile device:
    • Download the Amazon Alexa app: Select Skills, and search “Digitalist”. Then, select Digitalist, and click on the Enable button.
    • Download the Amazon app: Click on the microphone icon and say “Play my flash briefing.”

Find and listen to previous Flash Briefings on Digitalistmag.com.

Read more on today’s topic

 

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Bonnie D. Graham

About Bonnie D. Graham

Bonnie D. Graham is the creator, producer and host/moderator of 29 Game-Changers Radio series presented by SAP, bringing technology and business strategy thought leadership panel discussions to a global audience via the Business Channel on World Talk Radio. A broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years in media production and hosting, Bonnie has held marketing communications management roles in the business software, financial services, and real estate industries. She calls SAP Radio her "dream job". Listen to Coffee Break with Game-Changers.

How IoT And Connected Vehicles Are Redefining Fleet Management

John Ward

For years now, we have been hearing – and, in many cases, learning firsthand – how connected cars are changing the everyday lives of individual car owners.

But what about the impact on those folks who own dozens, or even thousands, of vehicles? What do connected vehicles mean to them?

ARI has a special perspective on this subject. As the largest privately held fleet-management company in the world, ARI currently manages more than 1.4 million vehicles around the globe. Its goal is to help customers control the total cost of ownership of fleets that can include light, medium, and heavy duty trucks, as well as cars.

It’s clear that ARI believes the combination of IoT technologies and network connectivity are driving advancements in fleet management that involve both car and driver.

Under the hood

In fleet management, it starts with capitalizing on all the data that a modern fleet generates. Connected cars can crank out up to 25 gigabytes of data per hour.

“We help our customers make educated decisions about their fleets by translating data points into actual strategies,” says Majk Strika, the managing director for ARI Fleet Europe.

ARI officials explain that telematics are already an integral part of more than 100,000 of the vehicles the company manages – and that number is growing rapidly. As a result, ARI processes more than a terabyte of telematics on a monthly basis.

“With vehicles that have telematics and IoT capabilities, we are really seeing inside that vehicle,” says Bill Powell, director of enterprise architecture at ARI. “When we take our fleet management information and analyze that together with IoT information, patterns begin to emerge.”

ARI is using technologies like an in-memory computing platform and digital innovation system to drive this insight to the company’s call center. Here, more than 400 ASE-certified technicians rely on this information to make decisions affecting critical issues like vehicle maintenance and repair, warranty protection, and driver safety for their clients.

Behind the wheel

“But the Holy Grail is figuring out what’s going on behind the wheel,” Powell says, “interacting and connecting with that driver.”

His colleagues agree. “There’s a lot of information we can get around driver safety and driver behavior,” notes ARI’s senior vice president of European operations, Mark Bryan, in a video filmed at a recent SAP Leonardo Live event.

And providing drivers with real-time information can promote behavior that results in cost savings. Bryan describes a common scenario where GPS data combined with information about local gas prices can direct drivers to the lowest-cost fuel provider.

“That’s a simple example,” says Bryan. “But fuel is the largest part of our clients’ spend. Consider the potential impact if you can continually provide that information to 2,000 drivers.”

So where can you see technologies like IoT, network connectivity, and advanced analytics at work in fleet management?

The short answer is, under the hood and behind the wheel.

Join us at SAP Leonardo Live North America in Chicago, November 2-3, 2017.

Please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.

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John Ward

About John Ward

John Ward is an Integrated Marketing Expert at SAP. He has over 30 years of professional writing experience that includes marketing material, sales support, technical documentation, video scripting, and magazine articles.

The Future Will Be Co-Created

Dan Wellers and Timo Elliott

 

Just 3% of companies have completed enterprise digital transformation projects.
92% of those companies have significantly improved or transformed customer engagement.
81% of business executives say platforms will reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.
More than half of large enterprises (80% of the Global 500) will join industry platforms by 2018.

Link to Sources


Redefining Customer Experience

Many business leaders think of the customer journey or experience as the interaction an individual or business has with their firm.

But the business value of the future will exist in the much broader, end-to-end experiences of a customer—the experience of travel, for example, or healthcare management or mobility. Individual companies alone, even with their existing supplier networks, lack the capacity to transform these comprehensive experiences.


A Network Effect

Rather than go it alone, companies will develop deep collaborative relationships across industries—even with their customers—to create powerful ecosystems that multiply the breadth and depth of the products, services, and experiences they can deliver. Digital native companies like Baidu and Uber have embraced ecosystem thinking from their early days. But forward-looking legacy companies are beginning to take the approach.

Solutions could include:

  • Packaging provider Weig has integrated partners into production with customers co-inventing custom materials.
  • China’s Ping An insurance company is aggressively expanding beyond its sector with a digital platform to help customers manage their healthcare experience.
  • British roadside assistance provider RAC is delivering a predictive breakdown service for drivers by acquiring and partnering with high-tech companies.

What Color Is Your Ecosystem?

Abandoning long-held notions of business value creation in favor of an ecosystem approach requires new tactics and strategies. Companies can:

1.  Dispassionately map the end-to-end customer experience, including those pieces outside company control.

2.  Employ future planning tactics, such as scenario planning, to examine how that experience might evolve.

3.  Identify organizations in that experience ecosystem with whom you might co-innovate.

4.  Embrace technologies that foster secure collaboration and joint innovation around delivery of experiences, such as cloud computing, APIs, and micro-services.

5.  Hire, train for, and reward creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.


Evolve or Be Commoditized

Some companies will remain in their traditional industry boxes, churning out products and services in isolation. But they will be commodity players reaping commensurate returns. Companies that want to remain competitive will seek out their new ecosystem or get left out in the cold.


Download the executive brief The Future Will be Co-Created.


Read the full article The Future Belongs to Industry-Busting Ecosystems.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business.  Learn how.

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in articles such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.