Embracing hyper-personalization: Configure One at the 2018 Manufacturing Innovation Summit

Configure One recently participated in the annual Manufacturing Innovation Summit which drew together 75 manufacturing professionals to talk product, process and people innovation – attracting SME and MNC manufacturers from across the industrial spectrum. Configure One hosted a discussion table, and delivered a keynote presentation.

The keynote discussed how manufacturers are having to take more innovative approaches to cater for specific customer requirements, and highlighted some of the new tools available to help support companies with this complex problem.

It is generally agreed that the first shoe was created sometime around 1600BC, Jon Lidbury, EMEA Director noted, yet what’s interesting is that as late as the 19thcentury, shoes were made with no difference between the right and left shoe.

“The options we take for granted today, like selecting color, materials, laces, and style were of course, either just not available or weren’t even a consideration,” he said.

Jumping forward to the 1920s and Henry Ford’s Model T was famously available in any colour… so long as that colour was black! Clearly, the options available to customers were still very limited; however, 34 years ago, in 1984, Dell was founded and is widely recognised as an early progenitor of consumer personalisation.

“Dell was the forerunner of current configure price quote [CPQ] tools and for the first time gave users a glimpse of what personalization could achieve,” Lidbury said.

From those roots, we are now experiencing personalisation on a grand new scale. Every major automotive manufacturer, for example, now offers personalisation on a mass market scale – demonstrating how far companies are willing to go to drive new business.

Hyper-personalisation is becoming a consumer expectation

The above statement may be true, Lidbury continued, yet manufacturers have typically been lagging behind this trend due to the complexities involved in managing the variability in the products and the specific requirements of their customers.

That being said, there are a number of forward-thinking manufacturers who are embracing hyper-personalisation and pushing themselves to be the first in their segments to offer personalised products at scale.

“This transition to mass-customisation is disrupting the traditional production process in unprecedented ways, causing businesses to rethink their complete sales, design and manufacturing strategies. However, managing that end-to-end process is complex, and becoming more so,” Lidbury warned.

The drive for hyper-personalization is seeing manufacturers discover new and innovative ways to streamline their internal processes in support of ever growing customer demands,” David Ray, Director of Enterprise Solutions added. “But what does that actually mean?”

Ray offered four examples:

Personalised customer experiences – customers are increasing expecting B2B processes to mirror the capabilities provided as part of the modern B2C experience. They know what they want and are no longer willing to accept what the masses ask for.

Product customization – customers expect to be able to order products that are more tailored to their individual needs and requirements, versus simply ordering off-the-shelf goods.

Customer engagement – customers have quickly become smarter about your – and your competitors’ – products, and are seeking a more robust interaction as part of the quotation and ordering experience. Customer engagement will be expected to include elements that strengthen loyalty, such as higher quality, more frequent and robust feedback loops, best in class service, and ongoing support services.

Customer interaction – customers will expect future interactions to far more enriching engagements, that includes collaboration or co-designing opportunities at far earlier stages.

 

The role of configure price quote tools

Increasingly, CPQ systems are an enabler of hyper-personalization, Ray continued. “They allow manufacturers to offers thousands of variations of their products, they organize specification to capture information in a consistent, efficient manor, and they automate customer deliverables such as quotes, proposals, specifications and engineering drawings,” he explained.

“Additionally, they can provide rich visualization and content to the user community to allow for better alignment of product use; automate inputs to manufacturing processes such as bill of materials, routings and engineering outputs; and provide a base for data analytics tied to hyper-personalization and allow for feedback loops in the design process.”

 

About Configure One
Configure One is a leading provider of web-based product configurator and CPQ (configure price quote) software. Configure One’s Enterprise Product Configurator® is an enterprise CPQ application that enables companies to efficiently sell and process orders for configurable, multi-option, and customizable products and services. Configure One’s customers can increase revenues while reducing costs by automating much of the sales, order entry, and engineering processes. Customers include industry leaders such as Alstom, Dover Corporation, Rosenbauer, Masonite Corporation, Otis Elevator, SPX Corporation, Stanley Black & Decker, and Sumitomo.

Maxi Metal gears for growth with Configure One’s CPQ software

If you see a fire truck en route to a rescue scene in Montreal or Quebec City, chances are good that it was built by Maxi Metal, a fast-growing custom vehicle manufacturing business launching Configure One’s CPQ software.

If you see a fire truck en route to a rescue scene in Montreal or Quebec City, chances are good that it was built by Maxi Metal, a fast-growing custom vehicle manufacturing business launching Configure One’s CPQ software.

Located an hour south of Quebec City in Saint-Georges, Quebec, Maxi Metal has custom-built precision machinery since 1983 and has led the Quebec fire truck market for 30 years. Now having selected Configure One’s CPQ package after a stringent evaluation process, it is poised to emerge as one of North America’s pre-eminent emergency vehicle manufacturers.

The firm distributes optimized intervention equipment through the dual channels of MAXI Fire Truck and MAXI Utility, with company growth focused primarily on fire apparatus. Maxi Metal’s Fire Truck division supplies custom fire and commercial pumpers, tankers and rescue trucks.

Among its newest products is the “MaxiSaber” product line, manufactured since 2016 in an exclusive product partnership with Wisconsin-based Pierce Manufacturing Inc.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with Pierce,” said Maxi Metal’s director of business development Christopher Sapienza, adding that because Pierce is the world’s leading fire truck maker.

As the collaboration with Pierce sparked business and the company found itself working with dozens of dealers “overnight,” Maxi Metal sought a better estimating and quoting solution to replace an obsolete system requiring tedious transfer of data between programs.

Noting that “dealers are driving much higher demand on our estimation team and it has created a major bottleneck,” the director predicted that Maxi Metal’s team would be able to leverage the built-in advantages of Configure One’s CPQ software, which automates and speeds up the process of generating quotes and proposals to improve the ROI.

“For Maxi Metal’s estimation department and the dealer sales team, it’s about having the speed and flexibility to respond quickly to customers’ requests for information and customization of the products we are proposing,” Sapienza said, comparing Maxi Metal’s current process to old methods of metal fabrication.  “We used to cut our sheet metal with hand tools.  Now we use precision laser cutting.  It’s time for the estimation department to catch up with the times.”

Initially, the company looked at four different vendors. One was an existing ERP supplier that offered to implement their own system; two others were “very standard quote software products.” And then there was Configure One.

What sealed the deal? Sapienza said, “We literally searched for [an answer to] ‘Who is the next-level provider that will bring us not just up to date, but into the future?’”

Following Configure One’s product presentation, Maxi Metal created a rigorous internal evaluation process and “put it through the wringer and stress-tested it financially.” Since Configure One represented the greatest financial commitment of all the candidates, Maxi Metal’s accounting department required a triple check for ROI. After meticulous assessment, Configure One passed with flying colors.

It was concluded that “this would be the solution that could bring us to the next level and go beyond the status quo,” Sapienza said. “We chose a product that would put us ahead of the game and into best-of-class.”

He noted that the professionalism, transparency and support of Sr. Solution Executive Jim Hessin and Global Sales Director Chris DiEllo, respectively, was “very responsive and key in helping us determine how this product could meet our needs.”

Sapienza confirmed that Configure One software will let dealers and estimators respond quickly and accurately to requested changes as customers move through the quoting process and commended the automated features built in to the CPQ’s time-saving system.

With a majority of its clients being municipal, county and regional governments, Maxi Metal hopes to dispatch customized emergency equipment well into the future. Significantly, the business stands out as an innovator, as every single product it creates is tailored and unique.

“Maxi Metal sees this system as a key hinge point in our strategic growth plan,” Sapienza said. “This major investment is a commitment to supporting our partnership with Pierce Manufacturing and their dealers and making sure that they have the high-performance tools they need to grow all of our respective businesses.”

About Configure One
Configure One is a leading provider of web-based product configurator and CPQ (configure price quote) software. Configure One’s Enterprise Product Configurator® is an enterprise CPQ application that enables companies to efficiently sell and process orders for configurable, multi-option, and customizable products and services. Configure One’s customers can increase revenues while reducing costs by automating much of the sales, order entry, and engineering processes. Customers include industry leaders such as Alstom, Dover Corporation, Rosenbauer, Masonite Corporation, Otis Elevator, SPX Corporation, Stanley Black & Decker, and Sumitomo.

Formaspace relies on Configure One’s CPQ software to assist team members and clients

Adapting to the needs of an ever-evolving market requires manufacturers to employ the latest technology, so Texas-based workspace design firm and furniture manufacturer Formaspace recently licensed Configure One’s CPQ software for both internal and dealer use.

Adapting to the needs of an ever-evolving market requires manufacturers to employ the latest technology, so Texas-based workspace design firm and furniture manufacturer Formaspace recently licensed Configure One’s CPQ software for both internal and dealer use.

Catering to the science sector, Formaspace markets a specialized line of furnishings for laboratory applications from lab benches, workstations and industrial furniture to computer workstations and traditional office furnishings. It has an extensive catalog of products with a wide range of specifications, so the utility of purchasing CPQ software easily became self-evident.

“We will use Configure One to help our sales staff easily make standard and modified made-to-order (MTO) quotes,” CEO Jeff Turk said.

Integrating Configure One’s product into the firm’s existing platforms of Oracle NetSuite and Autodesk Inventor promises to be a seamless transition, according to a company spokesman.

“The Configure One software will make a bill of materials in Autodesk Inventor, and then send that [bill of materials], with routings and accurate costs, to NetSuite, where a customer quote and/or work order can be created,” Turk said.

Formaspace manufactures and distributes its line of custom industrial lab furniture worldwide. The company plans to roll out Configure One gradually as it integrates the software into its routine.

“Initially, only our inside sales staff will use the software,” Turk said. “We already have two customer-facing 3D tools for dealers and direct clients.”

Because customer service is paramount to the business’ success, Formaspace participates as an active player in every step of its sales from CPQ to customer service rather than funneling too many responsibilities down the chain to its dealers. Hence, its personnel deal directly with customers in fulfilling orders at the same level as all of Formaspace’s many product dealers.

Turk conveyed that the company’s home office in Texas, with 63 employees at last count, has “most, if not all of the same resources as most dealers, and are therefore able to support our dealers with unusual needs and one-time demands.”

The business came to select Configure One for three main reasons according to its CEO. First, its clients prefer “as-configured” drawings, which require a lot of “human time” without software. Second, Configure One’s CPQ system helps to avoid human error or client miscommunication and also eliminates “more human time than would be preferable.”

“Detailed drawings could potentially alleviate occasional misunderstandings and automate processes that are currently performed manually,” Turk said.

Third, “the program promises to help us have a single view of our costs throughout the organization,” he said. Clearly, Configure One’s CPQ software proved to be the right product choice for this company.

Based in Austin, Texas, with dealers throughout North America and globally, Formaspace has provided preeminent design solutions for commercial laboratory facilities since 1981. Its Configure One license will now facilitate business across several continents, including branch offices in San Francisco and dealers nationwide in Canada and Taipei.

About Configure One
Configure One is a leading provider of web-based product configurator and CPQ (configure price quote) software. Configure One’s Enterprise Product Configurator® is an enterprise CPQ application that enables companies to efficiently sell and process orders for configurable, multi-option, and customizable products and services. Configure One’s customers can increase revenues while reducing costs by automating much of the sales, order entry, and engineering processes. Customers include industry leaders such as Alstom, Dover Corporation, Rosenbauer, Masonite Corporation, Otis Elevator, SPX Corporation, Stanley Black & Decker, and Sumitomo.