Two Managers from a Chicago based Manufacturer describe their recent journey.
Manufacturers have been at the center of the Midwest’s economy for more than a century. When cheap, available, and reliable electricity reached the industry around the turn of the 20th century, it changed everything. Today, manufacturers are seeing a similar paradigm shift with the advancements made in software. In 2014, creative werks embarked on a journey to address this shift by spinning off a software company called QWerks. This year the QWerks team is releasing their new product, built in partnership with DragonSpears, to help them address the growing need for digital solutions in the industry. I recently caught up with the QWerks team and got them to explain to me some of the insights they’ve gained from this journey.
DragonSpears: What prompted QWerks to develop a customer facing IoT product?
QWerks: Previously, customer's quality processes were manual, inconvenient, lacked reporting & analytics, had no verification of data, and were typically not very transparent. Our product makes the filing cabinet obsolete, and allows for quality metrics to be more than one-time use only by way of data analytics and predictive analysis.
DragonSpears: How do you define IoT?
QWerks: It is the current shift in technological mindset. IoT creates:
- A more seamless connection between all devices that can be integrated
- The means to connect devices which currently cannot be integrated (legacy shifts, etc.)
- The elimination/harmonization of the human-to-human or human-to-computer interactions required to facilitate these types of data transfers.
DragonSpears: What is the most important aspect of building customer facing software?
QWerks: Customer Satisfaction. Leveraging the information contained within our clients' data to identify opportunity and drive business improvements is one of our largest value propositions. We facilitate this entire process of improvement through our flexible, mobile, easy-to-learn platform.
DragonSpears: What is the scope of this product?
QWerks: The scope of QWerks applies to any SKU or process which has a defined set of instructions or expectations: procedures, BOM's, specifications, recipes, etc., where there exists a desire to improve by analyzing current processes.
DragonSpears: Was agility within IT a factor in time to market?
QWerks: Yes, QWerks' mentality, culture, process, and perspective (as it relates to agility within IT) fosters an environment in which we respond very quickly to our Customers' opportunities and threats. Our agility differentiates us by keeping us ahead of current trends/technology.
DragonSpears: Does introducing this product impact culture at creative werks/QWerks?
QWerks: For creative werks, QWerks has proven to be the catalyst for a larger shift in the overall mentality to how powerful and versatile their data can be. Once this realization was made, their own imagination was the only limit. We've now seen QWerks move into other areas/projects such as E-Commerce fulfillment, Security Auditing, and Sanitation functions.
DragonSpears: What were the impediments to doing this all on your own?
QWerks: The initial impediments were mostly from an organizational standpoint. Getting organized and having a plan, vision, and focus from the beginning is important. Establishing secondary plans of action in the event of some type of (likely) unexpected event which alters timetables, etc. is an absolute must.
DragonSpears: Can you point to some companies or products that have inspired you during this journey?
QWerks: Microsoft's PowerBI reporting engine has been integral in helping our Customers visualize their information.
DragonSpears: What is going to make this product “sticky” with its intended audience?
QWerks: QWerks achieves stickiness with our audience due to our dedication to the Customer. We think farther than the Sales Cycle - we're thinking about the Client Lifespan. We're not just turning Prospects into Clients, we're turning Prospects into Clients into Fans, and then we turn those Fans into Brand Evangelists. We're in the business of streamlining/establishing monitoring processes and then squeezing every ounce of value possible from the process as we "listen" to it. Customers want these results and the informational awareness that comes with it, plain and simple. QWerks sticks because we can achieve these goals and we are relevant.
DragonSpears: Can most traditional manufacturers go out and make customer facing products like this?
QWerks: Traditional manufacturing is changing. The digital age is upon us, and the inevitable shift to a manufacturing environment which integrates more technology is here. QWerks was created due to a desire to improve. If you are a traditional manufacturer, to remain competitive, you will likely have to implement some type of technology or system intelligence which you've created or procured that solves a problem or inefficiency in your organization.
DragonSpears: What advice would you give to others thinking of going down this path?
QWerks: We would advise anyone going down this path to (1) Begin with a plan, and focus on an objective or a problem to target. Perhaps this could be a team "layup" for confidence building (2) exhibit flexibility and adaptability, as when you decide to embark on a journey like this you are dedicating yourself to exploring a plethora of unknown opportunities which may impact your original plan and goal and (3) listen to industry professionals and ask for help - learning cannot be underestimated, and it's likely that you're not the first one to have your problem.
QWerks believes there's an easier way to improve the quality process in food packaging and industrial manufacturing that is FSMA compliant, audit-ready, and efficient for users and quality managers alike. QWerks is a quality monitoring software helping companies mitigate risk and manage information, providing an intuitive platform to retain data and provide analytical insight. The powerful analytical engine built into QWerks provides businesses with tools to improve operations and make informed decisions. Learn more about QWerks.