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Editor's Ramblings   |   January, 2015   |  
New Products Brought to Market Faster with Cloud-Based Technologies
by Naeem Ismat (Guest Contributor)

Starbucks Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with Soy an extra shot (of expresso) has a SKU at Starbucks. There are almost 15,000 SKUs at the coffee retailer. Whip, no whip, skim, 2%, whole, soy, full-sugar, sugar-free, and the permutations seem endless. The customer is driving the new permutation with extraordinary specificity and demand for instant service and results.

This customer demand driven product development has no end in sight. Go to BMW's website and one can build-to-order (BTO) the precise vehicle, including interior leather choices, exterior paint choices, and thousands of other variables and options.

The customers are training the manufacturing sector with the mantra, make what I want, when I want it or I will take my business elsewhere. This insistence for a one-of-a-kind (or far from "off-the-shelf") solution requires that new products be brought to market faster than ever.

Cloud-base technologies are making this possible. At the Accenture Technology Vision conference it was noted, "The change is revolutionary. Industrial companies are becoming customer service companies. Consumer products companies are becoming Internet companies. Energy companies are becoming information companies. And media and entertainment companies are becoming logistics companies."

The impacts of rapid time-to-market

The core objective that lean manufacturing organizations are targeting in 2015 is to cut in half the time-to-market for new products using cloud-based infrastructure. This initiative is based on need; competition will capture new product market share just by coming to the consumer first and build brand loyalty. Reduced time-to-market for new product rollouts is a specific technique that is only made when the supply chain (all suppliers and enterprise-wide manufacturing process) can view real-time data worldwide as one accurate source of production information. Fast time-to-market translates rapidly to faster time-to-revenue; improved cash flow results.

Omni-channel improving the customer experience, exceeding expectations

Improved customer experience and satisfaction is being made possible with new cloud-based technology solutions. With more than $100B in online sales during this past holiday season, up 13% from 2013, the increasing role of integrated omni-channel solutions is irrefutable. Flexible cloud-based platforms are providing the end-user customer, the warehouse and distribution center, the manufacturer, the supplier of raw materials to the manufacturer, a simplified process to meet the unique challenges of selling and activating connected devices. Year-round consumers demand a seamless retail experience whether in brick and mortar stores, on-line worldwide, or on their phone while shipping another SKU, this time a tall Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. Bringing new product to a consumer who maintains a positive experience with a brand will drive dramatic, even exponential revenue growth. Those manufacturers and brands that ignore the customer demand for variety and unique personalized purchasing experiences will face a grim prognosis.

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