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Intelligent products in manufacturing: How new technologies unlock hyper-personalization

Anubhaw Bhushan
May 10, 2024

Manufacturers seeking to maintain market share will need to invest in technologies that reduce lead times and unlock personalization in design and production to meet customer expectations.

Manufacturers have long relied on standardization of products and services to ensure quality and speed. But this will not suffice unless adaptation is baked into the design, delivery, and support models. Consumers are demanding more, faster.

Fortunately, manufacturers have new and emerging technologies at their disposal that can personalize products and experiences without sacrificing time. In fact, these tools hold the potential to accelerate entire enterprises – if they can free their minds from outdated philosophies and methods.

Changing customer expectations

Manufacturing companies might not immediately realize the need to deliver more personalized experiences because their primary customers are other businesses, rather than end consumers. These products are likely to be packaged and distributed or incorporated into additional manufacturing processes.

In this business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) world, professionals traditionally understood delivery delays and limited product offerings because they dealt with the same constraints. But outside of work, these same people are enjoying seamless experiences and plentiful options when shopping for consumer goods.

This means products need to speak to and interact with buyers in a personalized fashion. An intimacy model has moved from “nice to have” to a “must have” KPI in a product’s acceptance, usage, and effectiveness throughout its lifecycle.

Furthermore, people accustomed to the convenience of smartphones or tablets controlling household items (e.g., thermostats, robotic vacuum cleaners) in their personal lives increasingly expect these devices to control other products at work. That might not be a problem if they want to automate office lights and coffee pots but would pose greater risks and challenges with automobiles and heavy machinery.

The promise of GenAI

Advancements in generative AI are making it easier to control all products connected over the internet of things (IoT) and even the industrial internet of things (IIoT). These smart machines are already better than humans at capturing and analyzing data – and subsequently optimizing operations. They just need an intrinsic operational intelligence that’s capable of monitoring and repairing itself in case things go haywire.

Manufacturers can leverage ever-maturing GenAI to automate these smart machines and orchestrate services and resources more efficiently and successfully.

But GenAI is no excuse to go on autopilot. This technology is unlocking doors that humans alone could not have pried open. Gen AI will yield the greatest results – at least in the short term – with human oversight and guidance.

The goal of GenAI-enabled solutions in manufacturing is primarily to personalize customer experiences. Any transformation rooted in automation should address the client’s demands while tapping into market trends.

For instance, business and technology transformation partners can use Gen AI to detect alternate designs for a manufacturing enterprise. However, those designs may still need to be tailored to the client’s needs and long-term strategies. That’s because new designs assisted by GenAI might produce great general designs for a particular industry, but each organization has its own pain points and growth opportunities.

Having manufacturers review a virtual representation of the design and provide continuous feedback will yield improvements and better personalization.

Manufacturers face challenges in offering personalization

Manufacturers are often hampered by traditional processes and aging supply chains, and struggle to create and deliver products in a timely fashion. They are so focused on meeting their deadlines that they don’t have the freedom to experiment with more personalized experiences.

Processes are deeply ingrained. People are reluctant to accept change. But what if they used GenAI to reduce long lead times? That could be the gateway to improving the customer experience.

The integration and alignment of information technology (IT), operational technology (OT), and engineering technology (ET) can drive faster lead times and position manufacturers for greater personalization. This confluence enables companies to infuse digital microservices through no-code and low-code app development practices.

But many professionals still view IT and OT as completely distinct from ET, and view investing in the cosmetic nature of the product – its look and feel – as a marketing gimmick that adds minimal value to the consumer’s satisfaction.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. IT/OT/ET convergence provides the tools needed to standardize the manufacturing process so that engineer to order (ETO), in which production begins after the customer places the order, requires almost as little manual interference as configure to order (CTO), in which the base products exist before the customer places the order.

Manufacturers must act

Manufacturers must adapt to the changing demands of the market and keep pace with technological innovation if they want to maintain (and ideally expand) market share.  Capgemini understands the difficulties manufacturers face when implementing changes to meet the rising expectations of consumers.

Advancements in the field of machine configuration can help manufacturers establish new processes for delivering extraordinary customer experiences. By listening to the voice of the customer – gathering and analyzing information on needs and preferences, capitalizing on the latest data and analytics strategies – manufacturers can create experiences and custom products that were unheard of years ago.

As a business and technology transformation partner, Capgemini helps manufacturers capitalize on the latest advancements in digital technology to streamline and enhance their operations, from the user interfaces for managing process to the heavy-duty machinery for producing goods. B2B2C companies may have a longer grace period before hyper-personalization becomes a necessity – but that time is coming. The sooner a manufacturing company gets ready, the better.

Meet the author

Anubhaw Bhushan

Sr. Director, Manufacturing Domain Lead
Anubhaw Bhushan, has been engaged in enterprise technology management and implementation roles in the heavy machinery manufacturing, mining and construction industry over the past 15+ years. In addition to driving digital transformation through cutting-edge suite of applications, Anubhaw’s forte has been in refining business processes, helping the manufacturers shift gears to subscription based, life-cycle management of products, and articulate service as a monetization model. He has been instrumental in driving IoT based service methodology, a critical ingredient for shaping up an intelligent, a sustainable service and connected product, multi-tiered aftermarket support model.