Customer experience and operational visibility at Configit

Henrik Reif Andersen, Configit’s Chief Strategy Officer, has two predictions for the manufacturing sector: Customer experience & operational visibility

Manufacturing has survived in the face of a great many hurdles in the last few years, including the COVID-19 shutdowns, supply chain issues, labour shortages and an ever-looming recession. In fact, experts see growth in the midst of ongoing uncertainty. Recent legislation has certainly been a help, says Henrik Reif Andersen, Configit’s Chief Strategy Officer. 

“The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) all drove unprecedented private sector investment in manufacturing,” said Andersen. “This has led to new manufacturing facilities, new jobs and a new perspective on reshoring.” 

But that doesn’t mean the outlook is completely rosy. ESG concerns and ongoing labour shortfalls and supply chain problems continue to lurk at the periphery of all this investment. 

Given this, Andersen shares two predictions worth considering for the year ahead.

Henrik Reif Andersen, Configit’s Chief Strategy Officer

Henrik Reif Andersen, Chief Strategy Officer, Configit

There will be a greater need for a cohesive, across-the-board view of operations

“The convergence of the above-noted factors, in addition to the ongoing adoption of AI, will lead to an increased recognition of the need for an end-to-end solution for operational visibility. 

“As you collect data from all the different areas and associate it together, this will require a cohesive solution that can help different departments access all of the available information and determine how this informs the configuration of their products. In other words, it means establishing a shared source of truth regarding product configuration information. The only way to know what to manufacture or deliver or service is to capture the product configuration that the customer initially purchased. Today, consumers aren't so much buying products as they are purchasing configurations.

“This is what organisations will have to manage moving forward. They'll need to have that single, shared source of information of what they can sell and of what configurations are possible. This will be key – because it’s that visibility that will help with feeding AI tools with the right data, meeting sustainability requirements or enabling traceability. And speaking of AI…”

 

Customer expectations will continue to rise as AI takes hold

“Where customer experience is concerned, a war is raging. Everyone is looking to ensure they can offer their customers a wonderful omnichannel experience. Some of the trends we've seen in this regard include visual configurations and the ability to offer 3D visualisation and that's going to continue. We've crossed the Rubicon on that one. Once you start making these types of options available to customers, they come to expect them, and it becomes table stakes. 

“As you keep pushing the boundaries of what makes a great customer experience, the bar gets raised for everyone. The next frontier of this is going to be AI-based. It's going to be a situation where customers are asking: “How much guidance can I get?” Will the consumer actually make choices, or will they just tell an AI model some of the things they want and then it will give them the available options? This might be the way customers interact with manufacturers going forward and that could be a game changer. 

“Part of what manufacturers will continue to realise is that they can expend a lot of effort on making the front-end user-interface look great, but if you don’t match that on the back end, it won’t matter. You need to ensure your data is aligned in the background to support these efforts on the customer-facing side. This is especially true if you want to offer that same sort of consistent experience across different platforms and different applications, such as your partner portal, your sales service portal and your direct sales portal.”

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