The product leader for Motorola’s video security offering discusses the manufacturer’s ongoing adventure into e-commerce.
The past year dramatically impacted how manufacturers successfully engaged with customers, especially as more interactions went virtual. While video collaboration placed a meaningful role, the ability to roll out robust e-commerce offerings also ensured continued feasibility for manufacturers.
Fahad Mahboob, product owner, of digital enterprise systems, video security, and analytics with Motorola Solutions Inc. recently discussed the role e-commerce played in helping meet customer expectations within an uncertain and ever-evolving environment.
IW: As a manufacturer of security solutions, what drove you to embrace e-commerce?
Mahboob: Enterprise-level security solutions such as the ones Pelco provides require multiple interconnected components to perform together. Designing these solutions, iterating them during the design phase, and adapting to the changing needs of customers was something that our sales teams and partners struggled with. With multiple product lines and model number combinations, designing these systems is time-consuming for even the most experienced designers.
The security industry, in general, has not tackled this well, and our customer experience focus group decided that we owed it to our partners to create a better configuration, pricing, and quoting experience. We argued that a more intelligent and automated approach to system design would help reduce design time, design iterations would take minutes compared to hours. And by allowing the configurator to be available to all partners, it would empower partners to see what is possible with an integrated system design. We know that a better user experience is great for customer retention and profitability, not only in the B2C world but increasingly more in B2B as the same users expect more from B2B platforms now.
Today our e-commerce platform, built on Tacton CPQ, allows the configuration of integrated systems. It shifts through 1000’s of system combinations in seconds to pick the most efficient system design. It manages pricing, approval flows and creates documentation complete with technical calculations and product images in a few clicks. We have managed to squeeze a one- or two-hour design process into a 15-minute guided selling approach that anyone with minimal understanding of security systems can manage.
IW: What challenges have you faced?
Mahboob: On the data side, making sure that product information, product configuration rules, pricing complexity, and approval structures are defined in a way that they can be ported to a single system took time. All these processes existed before but were spread across multiple internal systems and were not designed to be customer-facing. On the adoption side, we saw a trend where new users were loving the simplicity and speed of the e-commerce portal, but seasoned users continued to use the existing excel sheets and other out-of-band systems because they could manage fringe design cases through a more manual process. We are still on a journey to include multiple fringe use cases into the e-commerce portal but have come a long way since going live in June 2020.
Check out the rest of Fahad’s chat here!
IW: What were the keys to overcoming the challenges?
Mahboob: For tackling data complexity, it’s important to assemble a small team that has insider knowledge of these systems and is able to get the processes and data flows mapped out early on before the build starts. Once this is established, execution becomes a lot easier. We did multiple User testing sessions and recruited enthusiastic supporters. The feedback helped us to improve, and in some cases completely redesign parts of the experience. That helped us with the adoption because these early users helped to spread the word. The product owner communicated aggressively across our global organization on the merits of the system, participated in demos, and captured feedback. Communication is always the key, or many well-intentioned initiatives can fizzle out quickly.
IW: How has having an e-commerce presence impacted your manufacturing operations?
Mahboob: We started to see product attachment rates increase across all our product lines. The e-commerce configuration tool was the killer feature, it allowed users to create a complete system, tweak the different parameters to optimize the solutions for price and performance, and do all that in minutes from a single platform. We were exceeding attachment rate KPI’s by 3 folds within 6 months of launch.
IW: How do you see your e-commerce endeavor continuing to evolve?
Mahboob: We have plans to add more capabilities including multi-lingual support and product schematics. We have started to create very detailed proposal documents that allow customers to visualize and really understand the solution in a way that gives us a competitive advantage.
This article originally appeared in Industry Week written by Peter Fretty