Everyone loses when a product fails to meet customers’ needs. Design and engineering feel frustrated, suppliers lose revenue, manufacturing has to retool – and let’s not forget the customer, who didn’t get what he or she expected and thinks less of your company as a result.
One way to build the best product possible is to bring your suppliers, partners, internal design team, manufacturing and customers into the same room. Unfortunately, that’s a tall order because everyone is dispersed around the globe. It’s not always practical to get everyone together face-to-face.
Or is it? With unified communications (UC), it’s possible to have an all-hands-on-deck meeting. Here’s a look at how you can bring people together virtually.
4 Ways UC enables a better design process
BYOD. UC connects all stakeholders, no matter where they are or what technology they use. Need to bring together your manufacturing team in India, your New York-based designers and your engineers in Southern California? No problem. UC lets all participants connect, using their own devices whether they’re mobile, desktop or tablet. Users can even switch a conversation from one device and pick it up on another.
Collaboration tools. With UC, video conferencing creates a more personalized and trusting environment. Once connected, everyone is able to contribute effectively to the conversation and stay on the same page to. Product managers can share screens to display prototyping documents, analysis of user data, spec sheets and other discussion material. As the conversation continues, suppliers, partners and customers all contribute in real-time through messaging, chat and email, all over secure Internet connections.
Application integration. Data analysis is critical to the design and engineering process. When CRM applications and business intelligence software are integrated into the UC platform, manufacturers gain a more comprehensive view of customer requirements, issues and feedback. These insights align product development with customer expectations and lower the risk of failure.
Custom workflows. You use specialized software and workflows to manage your product design and manufacturing process. With these integrated into the unified communications solution, workflow is streamlined, enabling your team to manage projects, track progress on key goals, inform all participants and share key information, all from one application.
How the cloud brings all stakeholders together
None of this is hypothetical. In fact, Boeing uses cloud technology to bring product teams together in a virtual room at their Center for Applied Simulation and Analytics (CASA) lab in Huntsville, Ala.
CASA connects Boeing employees and suppliers from all over the world via cloud communications. It uses video conferencing, interactive display software, simulators and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
“By allowing us to see, visually, what’s happening with the animated diagram, we can see exactly where and when something goes awry,” says Randy Krohn, Boeing Test & Evaluation software engineer. “It sure beats watching script flying by on a small terminal display.”
The technology also helps Boeing use analytics to get to market faster with a product that works for their customers. CASA “increases our ability to analyze the immense amount of data coming from our customers, markets and products to build the next-generation of products faster and better, and to help our customers understand the value of the data being captured,” explains Ted Colbert, Boeing chief information officer and senior vice president of Information & Analytics.
Boeing might be a little ahead of the curve in using this type of technology, but not by much. Fifty percent of manufacturers report that by 2019 they plan to collaborate directly with customers to design and improve their products, according to researcher IDC’s latest survey on global manufacturing, as reported in Industry Week. IDC predicts this will result in as high as 25 percent improvement in product success outcomes.
Thus, manufacturers that embrace UC now will be at a competitive advantage. By enabling all stakeholders to collaborate easily, they can bring essential input and perspective earlier into the design process. The result is a product that goes to market in less time, creates a better customer experience and generates more revenue.