Commoditized Issues
Sales & Operations Planning, New Product Development, Aftermarket: why are we all facing the same challenges today?

I was recently speaking with the ex-Director Innovation at GSK Nutrition, about the planning of our upcoming NPD World Tour Stockholm, which focuses on new product development. He gave me the following advice for themes to focus on:
“First the end to end innovation concept… Second the global vs. local debate (balancing resources, costs and exploring the similarities and differences, learning from experience)… Third, the importance of getting the right internal culture, mindset, ways of working across multi-functional teams.”

Inside the global Sales & Operations PlanningIt’s quite interesting to notice that the first one is of course intricately linked to innovation and new product development, but the next two are not. In fact, his last two themes are very much cross-industry, cross-functional issues, that were highly touched upon at our launch NPD World Tour, but also at our S&OP conference last year, and which will be highlighted by many speakers at our upcoming Aftermarket Business Platform.
It seems that, as the world becomes more and more globalized, issues across functions of organizations, whether manufacturing or other, become in some ways commoditized. Many challenges faced by organizations lose any value linked to their job function; rather, they are generalized by the current trends in this globalized world of ours.

By 2020, it is estimated that 1.3 billion people from emerging markets will join the global middle class. Whether the focus is on product development, after sales services, or demand planning/forecasting, most companies’ strategies are to look into how to reap benefits from this group of people.

Because of rising and stronger local competitors, it is no longer enough to simply export products to those countries; today, it is a necessity to be installed with production facilities, warehouses, sales and marketing offices in the emerging markets in order to compete with global and local powers. Opening offices abroad leads to internal challenges. Although it might not seem like much, it is undeniable that a company is much more effective (and thus successful, or profitable) when there is a strong culture within the organization.

The reason is that employees are happier (and thus work harder) and customers are more confident about the company (and thus purchase products/services from that company).

A perfect example is Apple: as a consumer, we see it today as a successfully innovative company, and we trust its products to be not only innovative, but of high quality, even unmatched by competitors. That customer confidence must reflect on Apple employees. Another, more personal example: last week, a colleague that had been with us for over six months moved to Johannesburg, South Africa to open our first office abroad. It’s very strange for us, back in Stockholm, who have been working together for years in an overcrowded office and have seen our company history evolve in front of our eyes, to see the future branch off. There will now be a Midfield Media history being written without us; there will now be colleagues that we will not know (that well) or meet (that often). But there will always be that company culture.

Thomas Igou