“Our cities, hospitals, workplaces and schools are being changed by the people who use them, rather than by the people who manage them,” says Joanne Moretti, chief marketing officer and general manager of Jabil’s innovation and development consultancy, referring to the impact technology and data are having on the world.
Advances in mobile technology and digital channels mean users have higher expectations of every service being delivered to them, creating opportunities for every sector. This represents a great opportunity on one hand, but also huge pressure to get new products and services to market, and deliver them to customers in ever-shorter timeframes.
“Everything is being turned completely on its head. And our OEM [original equipment manufacturer] customers are telling us they no longer fear failure – their worst fear is irrelevance,” says Ms Moretti.
Manufacturing advances such as 3D printing or digital prototyping have helped organisations, but have also increased the competition from new entrants. Indeed, the biggest concern for many businesses nowadays is not the fear that a new product will fail, but that it will not reach the market fast enough or will be obsolete by the time it hits the shelves.
For many organisations, says Ms Moretti, the real issue is that underneath all the digital veneer and digital marketing tactics, they are ill-equipped to respond to the changing environment.
Jabil has gone through its own transformation journey, putting in place digital processes which will help its customers get their products to market much quicker
“People want instant gratification, personalisation, customised experiences, all topped off by speed,” she says. “Many businesses have focused on creating spectacular ‘front-end experiences’ from a digital perspective, but underneath their value chain is nowhere near ready to handle putting out new product releases at this speed or customising new gadgets on the fly.”
In fact, many businesses with digital front ends are still trying to operate their supply chains on the back end with antiquated software packages or product life cycle management practices.
“Digital marketing does not equal digital business,” says Ms Moretti. “There are a lot of things underneath in terms of getting something to market, which we think can be done easier and faster, but people have to collaborate, and systems and data have to come together. You can’t modernise your marketing system if you’re using an old customer relationship management system or your product life cycle management system is 30 years old.”
Jabil has gone through its own transformation journey, putting in place digital processes which will help its customers get their products to market much quicker.
“We have been working on completely digitising our supply chain, connecting our people and giving them visibility,” says Ms Moretti. “We’ve been digitising our prototype and product life cycle processes, and have been leveraging 3D printing and additive manufacturing so we’re a better partner for our customers who want to take solutions to market quickly and stay relevant.”
Helping customers design, manufacture and bring to market new products is the basis of Jabil’s offering to customers, working in 14 sectors ranging from automotive to healthcare.
“We cut across the whole life cycle for all of those sectors, even managing end-of-life situations,” says Ms Moretti. “It means they get the ability to really engage with customers and to focus on their broader strategy.”
Central to this has been its digital platform, which brings together a wide range of people, processes, tools and technology to support the entire product development cycle. “We have 1,600 engineering capabilities across Jabil and the products that are most in demand are those such as optics because today there are cameras in everything – sensors, near-field communication, additive manufacturing and 3D printing. These key capabilities are at the centre of the company and can be leveraged by any of the market-facing business units we have.”
Working across a wide variety of sectors means the business can “cross-pollinate” concepts from one industry to the other, she adds, although each customer is allocated their own “work-cell”, which ensures there is no risk that intellectual property could be compromised.
The organisation’s Blue Sky Innovation Center, located in San Jose, California, is where a lot of the magic happens. The building is located on a 100,000sqft campus and is made up of a number of collaboration, innovation and design labs, including rooms dedicated to prototyping, 3D printing and the internet of things.
“It’s where we bring all our scientists together and work with customers to help them get to market faster,” says Ms Moretti. “For all the digital manufacturing and supply chain capability, there is still nothing like people coming together to generate innovation.”
She gives the example of a healthcare business which was looking to differentiate itself from the competition and offer enhanced benefits to hospitals through developing a more high-tech feeding tube.
“We suggested putting a camera and an LED light in it, which has made it a much better process for the doctors and a better experience for the patient,” she says. “It also means the business is delivering more value for its customers and can charge more money for the product.”
The Blue Sky Innovation Center houses the Digital Prototype Lab run by Radius Innovation & Development, a consulting business acquired by Jabil in 2012, which is also helping customers bring products to market much quicker than would have been possible in the past. A full-service rapid prototyping facility in the heart of Silicon Valley, this features state-of-the-art technology and brings together teams of skilled technicians and integrated design and engineering professionals.
Companies need to work with trusted partners, who can engage with their customers on growth strategies, and then move with an outrageous sense of urgency
John Van Akkeren, president of Radius, says the rapid pace of change means organisations have to ensure they are well placed to respond to new opportunities.
“We have a growing population, rapid urbanisation and a huge demand on smart cities to serve these digitally enabled consumers,” he says. “At the same time, technology means previously stationary services such as healthcare have now moved into the home through connected solutions. So there is this crossover between people’s home and work lives, which has created an organic workflow process that really requires people to be collaborative across teams.”
As well as increasingly demanding customers, organisations are under pressure from new, more nimble competitors, says Ms Moretti. “Competitors are leveraging technology, data and cloud to offer solutions in new ways, such as subscription or lightweight models, so our traditional customer and enterprise base is under huge pressure, and it all revolves around technology,” she says.
The reality is those businesses that are unable to respond quickly will find themselves increasingly left behind, she warns. “We’re seeing the lifespan of traditional companies shrink significantly,” she says. “In the 1960s, companies lasted 60 years. In the early-2000s, it was 25 years. We’re now down to a 12-year lifespan.
“It’s not business as usual – companies need to work with trusted partners, who can engage with their customers on growth strategies, and then move with an outrageous sense of urgency.”
Shoe insole manufacturer Superfeet recently turned to Jabil to help develop and bring to market a new product that could be made in just 15 minutes.
“Jabil’s Digital Prototype Lab, Radius team and 3D printing changed the research and development landscape at Superfeet by enabling us to customise in ways we’ve never done before,” says Superfeet’s vice president of marketing and product Eric Hayes.
“It took us two years using traditional R&D to create a custom insole that could be produced in 15 minutes. Jabil, in just four months, proved how we could use 3D printing to produce custom insoles more efficiently and with an extremely high degree of replication, at a fraction of the development cost of other methods.”
Joanne Moretti, chief marketing officer at Jabil, adds: “In this case, because we could collaborate and work together as a team, leveraging our digital thread, we brought that idea to prototype in five weeks. We then brought the prototype to production using digital manufacturing and 3D printing in two-and-a-half weeks.”
Being able to move quickly can be the difference between success and failure. “It’s make or break for some companies,” says Ms Moretti. “They will capture first-mover advantage and much more revenue if they can get products out there faster.”
For more information please visit www.jabil.com