In February 2016, Euractiv Germany expressed concern about the ever shorter product life cycles of electronic appliances and devices. They argued that the continuous stream of new appliances and devices into the marketplace was unnecessary, since consumers were still satisfied with the products that they had. Worse, growing numbers of discarded electronic devices and appliances are adversely impacting the environment.
While pundits might argue that electronics companies purposely and irresponsibly aim for premature product obsolescence so they can keep selling new stuff, a study performed by Oku Institute actually revealed that “a third of all replacement purchases for household appliances were motivated simply by [consumer] desire for a better unit while the old one still worked fine. That proportion rose to 60% percent when it came to televisions.”
Regardless of point of view, one thing that everyone agrees with is that shorter time to market and a continuous stream of new products are putting extreme pressure on electronics supply chains—from the point of product inception and sales, through manufacturing, distribution, delivery to customers and post-sales follow-ups on products when something goes wrong.
The Oku study found that “the proportion of large household appliances that needed to be replaced within five years of purchase due to a defect grew from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% percent in 2012.”—a finding that Oku described as “remarkable”.
Meanwhile, research conducted at George Mason University concluded that, “Most technology companies are experiencing highly volatile markets with increasingly short product life cycles due to rapid technological innovation and market competition.”
In combination, greater product defects and a drive to continually innovate to meet new product demands and competitive pressures, suggest that electronics companies should revisit their existing business processes. It is imperative to see how more active (and proactive) collaboration between sales/marketing, engineering, manufacturing, distribution, and post-sales support can improve results.
Cogswell College, which provides technology education in California’s Silicon Valley, addresses the importance of collaboration in creative industries like electronics when it says, “The productivity of a team versus those of an individual has obvious benefits for the creative project. Of course, a team has a larger cumulative knowledge base across more minds with more ideas. Used effectively, this results in more condensed production processes. If the team is a well-organized one, this also ensures better productivity, often higher quality, more creative output, longer-lasting motivation, greater efficiency and faster delivery.”
Consequently, it would seem that by fully exploiting the collaborative potential within the organization and suppliers that an electronics manufacturer could improve performance of supply chains and execution for shorter product life cycles, while also reducing product defects.
But how do you do this? Click on the image below to start a slideshow of six steps to enhancing collaboration that managers should consider: