Posted by Alex Ivaschenko on 15th October 2014
What is the greatest industrial product of 2014? How about the greatest product since 2000 in use today, and still great?
Can there even be a product that lasts forever and is always great? It’s like asking for an investment that pays high dividends, while it grows in value, tax-free and is also guaranteed. No such thing. But what are the possibilities that the greatest product exists? Let’s see. There are seven steps to building a foundation for it.
Future of industrial sales
The selling process of industrial equipment is very different from buying a consumer product. It’s more complicated than buying a well defined and understood object, such as a car, a flashlight or sporting goods. However, the first step is always the same. It all starts with a search and research of the product or the solution. These days nearly all search starts using the web. You can see where it’s going from there.
New products must support both – new and old industries
New products must consider remodel jobs and backward compatibility. In a way, new products are the bridge between the old and the revolutionary.
Industrial does not mean boring
In general, most industrial products are not that cool. But what they can do is where lies the rub. Sell the sizzle, not the grill. Thinking of a roller-coaster as a large assembly of bearing, guides and pulleys is not that appealing.
Industrial does not mean niche
Successful consumer products do not equate to successful business. There are many example like this – Polaroid, PalmPilot, what, Crispy Cream? The two main reasons a consumer product is successful are great momentum in marketing, (Crispy Cream), and their awesomeness (Polaroid, PalmPilot). These reasons are temporary in light of disruptive technologies and better branding by competition.
Future of Manufacturing
I have two words here: Collaborative Manufacturing. OK, in other words: manufacturing becomes decentralized. Manufacturers find more efficient ways to fabricate particular components using specialty shops. There is also some arbitrage in labor costs going on. Regardless, manufacturing of a product becomes more of a logistics task rather than better plant management. Ramifications to manufactures: Database development.
What generates a profit with perpetual growth? No such thing – products or services have a finite life span. OK, forget about growth, how about a profit that lasts forever, a perpetual profit. It’s always there, supplying a steady stream of cash flow to the business. Like petrodollars. Nope, not even petrodollars are perpetual. Actually, today the business theme is more on sustainability than on growth. Consider some data mining startups from Silicon Valley. The focus is on instant domination, rather than growth. Scale fast and large, with sustainability anything but guaranteed. What hardware product can match market domination with resulting sustainability?
Domination of the market no matter how strong, still is not a match to natural lifecycle of a product. So, what’s the greatest product then? We may have an answer. We just can’t let you know it because nobody has introduced it yet. There are three clues, though. It is not software. It is not hardware. It’s is something based on the perpetual (commercial) need of humans to complete their current task at the time right there and then. We found the need. The foundation has been laid.
Posted by Jerry Javits on 12th October 2014
I am new to this blog, but I have something to say, so here I am, blogging about my favorite subjects – such as shopping for high pressure windows. This is part of my job working for energy generation, and oil and gas companies as a consultant in the area of process observation solutions.
Before I started this job, my ideal concept for buying an industrial product was well, idyllic.
This is not how it went.
I’ve been tasked by a client to find an ASME sight window in carbon steel. The search engine returned Penberthy Sight Glass on one of the top pages. Great, I thought. This is a recognizable name so I found the solution. Actually, boy, was I wrong. The search for the manufacturer was just the easy part. I contacted every listed distributor, practically with a purchase order in hand and none of them had the parts or were that motivated to look in their internal inventory for “ASME Class 150 Sight Glass” in a particular size.
So, by Search I really mean searching for the actual part, not just a manufacturer with a well optimized website. The search does not stop at the web, it ultimately progresses into a connection between two humans arranging a sale of the product. Until that transaction is complete, the search does not stop.
I take this as a learning experience of how to make a sale, from search to fulfilled. My take on how an online sale should be:
1. You search for it.
Ask around the office, maybe someone has their favorable supplier. No? Google it.
2. You find it
Google returns search results, you do a quick scan, find something promising. You click on it.
A great page shows us. You are on the web site now. They make it easy to learn about the product, research it, stack against the competition, and do the final selection. You are ready to buy.
3. You buy it.
Shopping cart is better. It’s quicker. Fees suck, BUT it’s quicker! Purchase orders are for the NET 30- inclined.
4. You receive it.
Now you can put all that process behind, no stress, moving onto the next. It should not be stressful. Why do they make it hard?
Posted by Alex Ivaschenko on 8th October 2014
Recently we found about.me and created a page. The photo was taken at dusk, two photographers are taking pictures, as our photographer is taking a picture of them. It is much more in depth this way, more story. It is also pertinent to the “observation” emphases of Encole’s core business- process observation and control. There is a whole world of creative and fascinating people on about.me. The power of human connection is greater than any organic search results on the web. The web is an enabler to a sale, not the ultimate answer to a sale. Branding, naturally caring for the need of the customer is. It’s great at the end of the day to know we’ve helped solved some technical problem somewhere out there.
We fired our search engine optimization person today. I feel bad about it. But this is not about feelings, it’s about return on the effort. This was a contractual position and we did not get too deep into the project, so it was more like a trial.
This was another attempt for getting better noticed on the web. We’ve done a lot of on-site analysis already. First at the inception of encole.com, then at the implementation of a new design, then again, of the established site, twice, with different experts. This, the latest focused SEO effort over the last four weeks, was another attempt at getting our catalog on the first page of the search results. A very cool catalog by the way. Encole.com – we have complements from our customers all the time. On how well the products are presented in their catalog pages, easy to find, research and check out with a shopping cart. We carry our very own high temperature sight glasses, and all kinds of other process observation components. But this is besides the point, getting carried away here. What we need is a direct marketing strategy rather than SEO – only strategy. Let’s say Your Site is out there on the Internet. It’s like fishing in the ocean of possibilities. It’s exciting, anything can happen, but you never know what you are going to get. One day you can get what any startup company is aiming for – a giant OEM contract from a multinational company, or huge success in the consumer market, or with government agencies, or you can get nothing for days. A better strategy is not fishing, not doing SEO to increase the site’s chances, but rather simply telling your existing and potential customers about your solutions.
Following up with your customers in a personal way is a very rewarding thing. Not in a corporate email type of way, but in a personal way – from one engineer to another. Asking how things are going, if the product they bought is working well, anything else they wish. Anything you can think of to anticipate your customer’s needs would be highly valuable to the customer and also to add to the goodwill of your start-up. This sticks in the minds of your target audience. Now they don’t need to search any further, they found your business. Next time they bypass search and go directly to the source – your business. This is what we are trying to do, learning as we go, firing the redundancies in SEO consultants, not feeling great about it, but moving on with the greater marketing picture.
Posted by Alex Ivaschenko on 29th September 2014
Where are you on this curve?
Do you see what I mean? This is what we deal with on a daily basis trying to solve a custom problem.
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth reassuring clients that once the design goals have been established, the product will work as intended. The hard part is to understand what the design intent is in the first place. There is a serious need to establish a clear line of communication with the customer. There is no way around it. That is because the customer has all the infinite details obvious to them. How the product will be used. What’s around it. How many they need, production or prototype. All that matters to make a custom product work great for that particular intended purpose. The big picture and the smallest details are in the customers’ hands and minds.
How design happens is actually irrelevant, as long as the product works and the customer is happy. After pulling all the information out – the specification document, the rest is the grunt work. The tools of the trade, FEA, CFD, type of CAD, or size of the pencils are not important to the customer. In fact, all of the engineering process is an enabler, as far as the customer is concerned, a necessary evil. NDA is not considered worth mentioning. What matters is the finished product. However, if the designer operates without clear project goals and without the proper tools, it will be a frustrating project for both parties. Without a clear design intent nothing will happen. A spec must be developed. This takes time and communication. You can’t ask for quick results.
How then do we make good designs happen? Trust, communication without hesitation, anticipation of limits, listening and understanding between the two engineers – the engineering customer and the development engineer thinking as one.