IT in the Consumer Durables Manufacturing Space
By Art Sebastiano, CIO, SharkNinja Operating LLC
Manufacturers in the consumer durables space are experiencing an increase in demand for superior products alongside the advent of various automated technologies. As an organization grows, so does its customer and product base, catapulting the issues related to data collection and integration to newer heights. The quintessential area of darkness in the consumer goods production space is the holistic integration of engineering process and creative development, in conjunction with lack of flexibility in technology. A CIO’s office also needs to harness the technologies that can systematically identify the right data to capture, outcomes needed from systems, and the analysis that can be done with the acquired information.
“At the end of the day, the technology should be able to provide flexibility, room for growth and allow data to be captured and leveraged quickly”
Additionally, manufacturing and processing consumer durables require robust systems. In certain cases, that robustness causes structural rigidity which makes it difficult to stay agile with the market and consumer demands. Furthermore, there is a discernible shift in consumer preferences in favor of higher end, technologically superior products—spurred by increasing consumer awareness around new models and technologies. Competition has forced companies to offer efficient after sales service and support which has, in turn, swayed customer preference for branded products.
Paying Heed to Consumer Feedback
It is important to have a positive effect on consumers’ daily lives in a simple and effective way. Equally essential is ensuring we offer customers high quality, 5-star equipments that make their life better. We thrive on passion and innovation, and keenly look forward to great ideas and innovations, which come as a result of our user’s feedback. I take a collaborative approach to our projects, where everyone has a voice. Companies such as ours differentiate in what we do in the market, by paying full attention to consumer feedback. Subsequently, we implement that feedback through the MPD, MPI, and ECM processes so we can implement those changes and move into production quickly. But, the manufacturing platforms on which organizations operate are very robust and allow limited capability to adapt to business requirements and market conditions. At the end of the day, the technology should be able to provide flexibility, room for growth, and allow data to be captured and leveraged quickly.
Data is a Double Edged Sword
It is essential to identify the data which needs to be captured into systems. There is a lack of extensible system that allows capturing of data from any source without disrupting its underlying integrity. Transactions that generate data can change, but the data never changes. The focus, therefore, should be on the 360 degree view of data that needs to be captured regardless of the system and underlying technology platform. A comprehensive view of data is imperative to understand business objectives and apply quantitative and qualitative research findings to create solutions that effectively cater to consumers, shoppers, brands, and retailers.
The availability of data provides flexibility and room for growth and also allows the collected information to be quickly leveraged. It enables us to analyze what we want to search in terms of data to be captured and outcomes desired from the systems. With the help of all the big data analytics, we don’t have to reconstruct the business process model that is already being used. All the current trends in the industry assist in delivering real-time data and analytics to my engineering department, executive leadership team, and finance folks. It is only after these people use the provided information for better product development, I provide my external customers with their desired product. An important aspect is to be aware of the business needs and the appropriate tools and technologies needed to solve the business challenges. The data also helps manufacturers increase profitability by understanding consumer purchase drivers, seeking product attributes valued by consumers, helping refine the mix and size of product lines, and optimizing their product portfolios.
The Quintessential Modern CIO
CIOs have to understand the technology history, how they can use it to efficiently run their business, and identify what will assist them in innovation. With increasing competition in the business landscape and the consumers becoming more tech savvy, CIOs have a lot to learn about how the technology applies to various verticals and streamline costs. I try to bring a broader view of what enhances the capabilities of the business to solve the problems that come along. There are basic capabilities available, that at the end of the day, assess how much more innovative the firm can be with solutions for Accounts Receivable (AR) or Accounts Payable (AP).
Executives starting in the consumer durable manufacturing space should act as value partners. They have to be aware of the different parts of the business and how they can help organizations be more successful. The C-suite has to be geared up to identify the business problems and be knowledgeable of how the solutions to those impediments can be incorporated in the system seamlessly. In a world where companies compete to move forward, a good CIO is a key toward efficiently cruising forward.