Each new year we’re welcomed with a clean slate – a fresh opportunity to reflect on how our decisions will dictate our future endeavors, and how to improve upon past processes. But, with new industry opportunities always comes new manufacturing risks, and in the world of after-sales service, unique challenges arrive on the horizon every day.

But, despite these looming unknowns, there are plenty of manufacturing risks we can mitigate from the start, simply by identifying the disruptors and strategizing on how to morph our businesses to fit the changing scenes.

In our newest eBook,“2018 After-sales Service Predictions: Strategies for Empowering Manufacturers to Deliver Game-Changing Value,” we asked some after-sales service industry thought leaders what disruptors manufacturers are going to face in today’s changing world, and here’s what Friedrich Baumann, Johan Stakeberg and Erik Lindholm had to say.

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Friedrich Baumann on keeping the customer as the focus.

In many cases today, the customer comes to the manufacturer and says, “This is what I want,” and the manufacturers subsequently build and deliver. It’s a business model where the customer demands and the manufacturer delivers, but in a disjointed and reactive process. Manufacturers should instead anticipate the needs of the customer proactively, so that rather than the customer coming up with the specs, the expertise of the manufacturer rises to, “This is what you need.”

The biggest unknown on the horizon is the impact that Amazon and e-commerce sales will have on manufacturers in the coming year. For most, the manufacturing risks haven’t quite been grasped. But, for those who work towards gaining customer loyalty and tying customers as closely as possible to the overall operations process, keeping customers from turning to third party e-commerce buying at all will help them to manage that risk altogether.

Johan Stakeberg on third-party parts providers and their impacts.

As manufacturers are continuing to seek new and alternative ways to boost margins and revenue, they face more disruptors than ever. One of the most prominent manufacturing risks comes from third-party parts providers entering the service parts space, especially companies based in far-east and African countries and major e-commerce players like Amazon and Alibaba.

Manufacturers must adopt new business practices and invest in sophisticated cloud-based technologies that enable them to remain competitive – and win – against these large, well-known brands. Customers will pay for convenience, and brand loyalty is less of a factor than ever, so the manufacturers that succeed will make the necessary enhancements to compete.

Erik Lindholm on putting the Internet of Things into action.

Simply put, where the rest of today’s emerging technology, such as drones, driverless cars, and even 3D printing are immature, IoT is ready to be applied to after-sales service now. But, while the maturity of IoT is its biggest advantage, the biggest risk to its supply chain adoption in 2018 is the maturity of its connectivity to existing equipment.

As of today, there’s no stand-out way to get data from these parts, and most customers are starting to store it in systems that they’ve developed on their own. There’s no industry standard on how they should connect to the myriad of existing platforms.

Risk may be a strong word here, though, as risk implies that something could go wrong. In the case of IoT, it’s not that it won’t work – it’s a proven source of success in the world of after-sales service – it’s just that it needs a little more time to be fully implemented in existing service models.

Where most of today’s emerging tech, like #drones, #driverlesscars, and #3Dprinting are immature, #IoT is ready to be applied to after-sales service now. Click To Tweet

While each industry faces its own unique risks and challenges, several emerging technologies are starting to play a major part in most – if not all – manufacturing sectors. Artificial intelligence, IoT and machine learning are powering a shift to predictive maintenance, replacing parts before they have even failed.

But, while most manufacturers are beginning to be aware of and store that kind of data, few know how to actually apply it. Leading manufacturers must invest in and adopt emerging technologies to compete, especially on the service side of the business, equipping products with sensored parts that are constantly feeding data back to the manufacturer in real-time. The companies that aggregate this data and act on it to deliver an improved customer experience will win.

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Want more insight into 2018? Download our brand new ebook today to hear more from some of the industry’s thought leaders on the major trends manufacturers will see in 2018 and beyond, and how to implement new business processes and technologies to win.

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