A couple of our most fundamental insights into successful IIoT and online Customer Experience (CX) have their roots in the dark ages of the internet over 20 years ago. More than a decade before ap stores or high-speed cellular data, when machine connectivity might well run $20K per instance, we were building complex web-based applications for Fortune 500 industrial and mobile equipment OEMs. Companies like Voith, Komatsu, and Mannesman were starting to see that they could get data from their big industrial machines in paper mills, construction equipment, or steel mills. Miraculously, we were able to bring them in as customers of our first foray into tech startups in the (then) wildly unlikely tech hub of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first insight was that usage metrics such as throughput, runtime hours, uptime, and downtime drove almost every aspect of what we (and others) termed “The Aftersale.” When a machine builder/OEM sells a machine, whether a CNC machining center, a factory air filtration system, or a construction backhoe, that machine may have a decade or more of life in the field. How well the machine performs in terms of uptime and throughput massively affects its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and the customer’s satisfaction. It generates a continuous stream of customer support interactions, preventive maintenance (PM) and service operations, spare parts purchases, and hopefully, follow-on sales of additional capital equipment as the customer expands over time. Smart OEMs care deeply about how well their equipment is performing in the field. They seek to capture and retain as much as possible of the ongoing after-sale revenue and interactions.
We saw this repeatedly in the large custom software systems we were developing to connect machine-building OEMs and their customers across many industries. Companies that paid attention were gaining 10, 20, 30% of the machine’s original purchase price year after year and selling more equipment to repeat buyers.
The second insight was that personalizing the online customer experience for the exact equipment, processes, and applications they relied on every day had an enormous positive benefit on engagement and the value of customer interactions. At the time, companies were struggling just to put their product catalog online. Their first “brochure-ware” website was still relatively recent. Smart players began to think about putting manuals, drawings, and spare parts lists online in generic ways. We started talking about a machine-specific approach tailored to the exact needs of that customer automatically:
- Only the equipment the customer owned
- The right manual, drawings, and technical material for their configurations
- The exact spare parts for their machines
- Preventive maintenance (PM) based on their actual production and runtime
As connected machine costs dropped radically and data began to flow reliably from machines, the ability to respond dynamically to customer needs grew exponentially. IIoT applications have become almost mainstream. They’ve become an indispensable product differentiator and market advantage for smart machine builders/OEMs. Scante’s white-labeled IoT/Customer Experience (CX) systems have evolved with hard-won insights from decades of experience.
Cloud technologies, affordable and reliable machine connectivity and the massive shift of customer preference for online support and interaction have dramatically changed the landscape for machine builders. Today we’re making rich, interactive, IIoT Customer Experience (CX) a reality for machine builders from $10M family companies to billion-dollar multi-nationals. We’re doing it quickly, affordably and in ways particularly tailored for growing machine builder / OEMs. Reach out here to schedule a more in-depth discussion of how Scante can take your IIoT and Customer Experience to the top of your market.