Advanced manufacturing as enabler
I recently attended the Hunter Advanced Manufacturing Manufacturing Summit titled ‘Reconfiguring the Future’. I’d been working with my good friend and business acquaintance Josh Jeffress, from Design Anthology, to prepare a presentation about the ways in which advanced manufacturing affects the way we design products and services (Josh is a product designer and Design Anthology is his product design firm). Josh’s talk was excellent.
It got me thinking more specifically about advanced manufacturing and what it means for service design.
It’s a really exciting time to be involved with helping people bring their products/services to market because so much technology exists to complete the necessary transactions with very little human involvement. Technologies like e-commerce, universal robots, automated machining, automated distribution and logistics and all kinds of digital services allow customers to get online, customise their product/service, place an order, the manufacturing and shipping are then automated and the product delivered out to the customer.
Advanced manufacturing plays a crucial role in enabling all of this to happen, but it’s not necessarily the reason why some companies are highly successful while others are not (as suggested by some presenters on the day). The real way that advanced manufacturing is reconfiguring our future is through its capacity to allow organisations to deliver emotional value propositions.
The story of MOO
Moo is a printing business printing business cards (among other things). They offer the same thing that hundreds of other printers offer. Business cards. But they do things differently.
Moo utilises a unique printing technology which they call Printfinity. This technology enables them to print a different design on every card they print. It’s a great example of the mass customisation that advanced manufacturing makes possible. Illustrators, photographers, designers, engineers, consultants, business owners can now print business cards that are unique and where no two are the same. If they choose.
Why do things this way?
MOO offer their customers an emotional value proposition; “You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count.” MOO don’t sell business cards. They sell your first impression. And it’s their advanced Printfinity technology that enables them to do this.
MOO also utilise well-designed online software where customers can upload their designs, prepare and place their order. From that point on, orders are handled by “Print Robots” that remain in contact with the customer by email to keep them up to date. The Print Robots use very human language, fully taking advantage of anthropomorphism; the phenomenon where people assign human characteristics to machines.
It’s this digital service, the online software and print robots, that allow customers to access the full capacity of the advanced printing technology. And it’s the thoughtful design of the way the services and technology interact with each other and the customer that make MOO’s execution so successful.
Advanced digital printing enable MOO to offer infinite unique business cards. Digital services allow their customers to access that technology. But it is their emotional value proposition that gets people interested in the first place.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count.
Emotional value proposition first
When Josh and I work with clients we view advanced manufacturing techniques as enablers, just like in the MOO example. When our clients approach us to explore their ideas, we first take a few steps back to work out why people will need this product. Then we determine the emotional value proposition to reach people on an emotional level first.
Only when we’ve got this nailed do we look to advanced manufacturing methods to enable us to deliver this emotional value proposition at the relevant scale.
We use design as a process to unlock the product and services that advanced manufacturing techniques make possible. When we find the right emotional value proposition, advanced manufacturing allows us to get it out to the market in a highly automated way, utilising lots of digital technology, very quickly and very efficiently.
Advanced manufacturing as enabler
We see advanced manufacturing as an enabler. It enables us to reach large markets very quickly and efficiently. It allows us to build in mass customisation so that customers are more emotionally attached to the products that they purchase. But this is only successful if we design products and service ecosystems that fulfil emotional needs. In order to do that, we have to understand our customer.
I appreciate Andrew Stevens’, Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, view on the matter:
“Advanced manufacturing starts with the customer, it starts with design led thinking.”
Josh and I think so too.
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