Monday, October 3, 2016

Tomorrow’s Market Belongs to Smart Manufacturers

If you’ve ever visited Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, you’ve probably taken a spin on Spaceship Earth, the ride inside the park’s iconic, giant silver ball. The ride, designed to feel like you’re traveling through time, takes you through past and future human communications: cavemen painting on cave walls, the invention of the printing press, the arrival of the personal computer, and so on.

The ride closes with an aspirational, future scene where connectivity permeates all aspects of life. It’s all very science-fictiony (think robot maids, hyper-connected devices, and holograms). Except…our present reality keeps catching up to that future scene, forcing Epcot to constantly update the ride with new future depictions.

Change, as the saying goes, has never happened this fast before, and will never be this slow again. You know what’s changing faster than your business today? Your end user’s appetite for innovation and connectivity.

You don’t need case studies to know that brands that fail to innovate (not once or twice, but continuously) reap irrelevance in a hurry.

Just ask Kodak: Back in ‘99, the New York Times reported that Kodak “regarded digital photography as the enemy,” fearing it would kill the film and paper business that fueled its profits for decades. We know what happened next: the company clung to its outdated model, failed to adapt fast enough, and saw its market share dry up like the Sahara. Complacency, my friend, will do the same to your market share.

In our last post, we talked about how your buyers now demand “smartness” in the products they buy: machines that can talk to each other, their users, and makers.

From the time they begin considering a purchase, users crave experiences that are (1) personalized; (2) deliver instant gratification; and (3) satisfy both physical and digital needs. It’s the big idea behind the Internet of Things, or IoT.

Sungevity, a California-based provider of solar panels for homes, gets this. David Edelman, a marketer writing for the Harvard Business Review, describes his first contact with Sungevity:

“The process began when [I] received a mailing with the message ‘Open this to find out how much the Edelman family can save on energy costs with solar panels.’ The letter contained a unique URL that led to a Google Earth image of [my] house with solar panels superimposed on the roof. The next click led to a page with custom calculations of energy savings… Another click connected [me] to a live sales rep looking at the same page…”

From there, Edelman describes a series of automated follow-ups via email, custom landing pages, and tracking alerts for his order. “Sungevity makes the journey so compelling that once customers encounter it, many never even consider other competitors,” he wrote.

Sungevity’s IoT investment paid off, doubling its sales in the past year and making it the fastest-growing player in its industry.

Like Sungevity, more and more manufacturers are figuring out they can score quick wins with IoT by simply automating information and support via smart labels, for instance. From a tap on their smartphone, users can access a plethora of product and company info, including:

  • FAQs
  • Product manuals and guides
  • Videos
  • Parts or accessories ordering
  • Product registration
  • Surveys
  • Locate local dealers or sales reps
  • Find best contact info for support
  • Product alerts & notifications

The payoff to manufacturers — in savings, revenue, productivity, user satisfaction — is enormous. On the flip side, so is the cost of ignoring it or lagging behind your competitors.

Wondering what this IoT business is all about and how it can work for you? We’d love to help.

Click on over to grab your complimentary guide on how IoT is transforming manufacturing. More importantly, we’ll walk you through how your organization can use IoT to capture more hearts and wallets in the months and years ahead.