Niched x Generic Solution: Which One Fits Best Your Factory’s Digital Transformation Journey?

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Find the right solution that really fits your digital transformation maturity/moment is not an easy task. But being honest, it neither does have to be a nightmare. First of all, we’ve been saying this for so long: industry 4.0. innovation and digital transformation are not only about technology but also highly committed and related to the culture of a company.
After overcoming this stage of the cultural challenge, you will be able to pick the right suppliers to help you solve your factory’s pain points. But should you choose a niched solution or a generically one?  (no matter the service you are looking for).
This is a simple question to answer. Always choose the company/technology that has experience in your sector. Most of the time, niched solutions are adapted to address your needs because they were created to solve those specific problems exactly, already familiar to you and your factory.

#1 How to find out if a company is able to help your packaging factory?

Check out their cases: does the company have experience in your sector? Do you know their clients? How are they positioning themselves in the market?
Ask the salespeople about real results that the software solution has provided with clients from your vertical: go deep and ask him/her to tell you which goals their last three clients have achieved with the product/solution.
Talk to current clients: you must know that this is not offensive. It’s a really common practice all over the world: “May I call one of your clients?”.

#2 Why choose a niche technology provider?

Ok, ok. We’ve told you about hiring from niched solutions (Let’s imagine that you are a flexible packaging manufacturer). Thus, why is this the best option? There are three main reasons:

  • They understand your industry
  • They have a lot of benchmarks with clients from your segment. And this can help you A LOT.
  • They will run a really focused roadmap (can you imagine 100 clients from the same sector sending feedback and asking for improvements? This is a gold mine).

#3 Who should make this call?

This is teamwork and work in progress (sorry about the cliché). Your IT specialist can help you make this call. If your plant manager is not comfortable going deep into technical details, maybe you can call some peers from other factories or hire a tech industry expert for one or two hours. It will be worth it, for sure.
In the end, it’s always good to involve several sectors in the decision-making process, including workers from the shop-floor. They will collaborate with many useful insights and different points of view. Nevertheless, in the end, someone should be responsible to have the last word.
(If you are a big company, for sure you have a specialized structure, maybe this call will involve people from the supply chain, finance, manufacturing, procurement, quality assurance, and other key areas. In this case, you can make great efforts on supplier relationship management, taking a lot of advantage of this hiring). 

#4 Need customization or modularization? Ask them or build it together!!!

If you are buying from a software company, ask them about your specific needs. Sometimes it is not easy to make product tech companies manage their roadmap only for your factory (this is normal and healthy). But if you have specific needs you can’t live without, ask them what should be the best approach to solve them.
  • Together, you can allocate some integrated resources to develop it.
  • They can add a special team to develop some features.
  • You can hire from a company that allows modularization (this really makes your job easier).
  • You can allocate internal resources to work on it.

#5 There is always room for other paths 

If at any time you need to pick a generic solution, make sure that this company has, at least, two cases on your sub-niche. Simple like that!
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