How are fully integrated visualization solutions with CPQ changing manufacturing?
Visualization (also known as Visual Configuration, or 3D product configuration) is the combined use of digital technologies (Augmented Reality, 2D and 3D visualization software) to be able to configure products directly in the three-dimensional visual representation. A Visual Configuration software enables your sales team and customers to configure their 3D products quickly and accurately from anywhere. Enabling an integrated visualization solution with CPQ is a step many manufacturers are taking this year.
What are some visualization benefits?
- Buyers see with their own eyes how a product they will receive looks like.
- Customers can understand how product customization decisions (choosing a specific product variant or product option) impact the final product.
- Companies can highlight unique selling points and special product functions.
- Further simplifying a complex configuration task by visualizing the different product options and functionalities instead of describing them with text-based descriptions.
- Companies create trust in their solutions because they use AR (Augmented Reality) to show the configured product in the actual usage environment and customers can immediately check spatial specifications.
Visualization has been on the minds of manufacturers for the last few years as an addition to their eCommerce initiatives. Many have transformed their selling process by adding real-time visualization, in real environments for their prospects and customers. Visualization has been a major selling point to customers who now grapple with at-home demos and product configurations.
Different approaches to visualization
Creating a great customer experience that fits seamlessly in your existing technical architecture sounds great doesn’t it? To me it does, but with so many options on the market, it’s important to find a visualization solution that is built to be agile, and maintainable with no surprises in the back end.
With a push for more visualizations across the manufacturing industry, it can be a lot to learn about the industry. Many manufacturers have a lot of questions about the different options available to them. That’s why we’re here to help discuss two different approaches for adding visualization to your CPQ application, using a 3rd party game or rendering engines and their maintenance workflows or using visualization as an integrated part of the CPQ solution.
What are game or rendering engines?
A Game Engine is a software development environment/framework for creating video games or interactive applications. They provide multiple functionalities including a rendering engine (2D/3D), a physics engine, collision detection, an audio engine, a scripting/logic engine, animation, artificial intelligence, user input handling, user interface generation, and networking capabilities. Additionally, they typically provide an editor, tools, and content pipelines to drive and support the game creation process.
Different Game Engines like Unity or Unreal are focusing on different audiences and target platforms. Not everyone is best suited to create web-based experiences in a browser, while others are not providing the possibility to create native mobile experiences.
The central part of a Game Engine is the Rendering Engine or Renderer which is responsible for generating the graphical output, turning 3D models, textures, and material descriptions in a visual image on the screen. Instead of using a Renderer as part of a Game Engine, it is possible to use a stand-alone Rendering Engine. Widely used WebGL-Renderer are for example ThreeJS or BabylonJS.
What are the benefits of using a widespread game or rendering engine?
- If it is a commercial one or driven by an active community, the development speed for new and improved functionality at a high quality will most likely be superior compared to building and maintaining your own engine with only a few resources.
- If it is used by many developers and users, good documentation, training, knowledge, and experience will be available in various ways.
Tacton’s fully integrated visualization solution with CPQ
At Tacton we offer our visualization solution as part of our Configure, Price, Quote solution for a fully integrated creation and maintenance process. We see several benefits of using and maintaining the visualization as an integrated part of the CPQ system compared to a separate 3rd party game or rendering engine.
A common strategy and aligned roadmap
When it comes to the two different solutions, they serve the same end purpose, showing your product in a visually appealing, exciting way to sell to customers. The product roadmap is an important aspect of buying any solution, and visualization is no exception. After the purchase of any 3rd party software, like a game engine, buyers are at the mercy of the vendors strategy and roadmap. A game engine is mainly built with a focus on creating games. Bigger Games Engines are opening their target audience but creating and integrating dynamic visuals in a dedicated CPQ system is not among those target use cases.
So potential needs of a small customer base looking to use the visualization for their highly complex product configurators are typically not the highest-ranked priorities on the roadmap. With Tacton visualization we make sure to consider our customers unique needs when it comes to changes, improvements, or new functionality to support their workflows and use cases the best way.
Even if you only want to use a small part of a Game Engine, as the 3D Engine, you must use the complete tool pipeline and process designed by the vendor. Once you are in the solution, there is no way out. For example, it is not possible to only use the included 3D Engine but build your own tooling around it. Tacton’s visualization is already tailored to the needs and requirements around extending the configuration process with visualization.
A complimentary maintenance experience
Mapping a configuration to visualization is not as straightforward with an external maintenance workflow compared to an integrated one. For example, the wording is with no relation to the configuration at all, making you learn and map every domain and requirement. And only using the rendering functionalities of a game engine leads to excessive parts that users can’t get rid of, so they must navigate their way around it.
Especially for the major Game Engines, learning the necessary essentials and mastering all the tools and processes is quite a challenge if 3D Game development is not your main occupation. Creating tailored solutions specifically in the area of visualization can reduce ramp-up time and speed up the learning curve since the use case and the users are much narrower compared to a general Game Engine with multi-purposes.
And if one of the goals and values of your solutions is that customers/manufacturers should be able to maintain and extend the visualization part on their own, it is not very convenient if the customers/manufacturers must buy and learn those 3rd party tools and processes as a mandatory component. This makes it much harder and complex to transfer the responsibility after the initial setup.
Tacton’s integrated visualization solution is designed to perfectly align and match with the bigger goal of enhancing a configurator with visualization with the least necessary friction in the process. The visualization builds on top of existing knowledge and workflows in CPQ, minimizing ramp-up time, making it one integrated experience.
Check out our upcoming webinar on visualization!
Out-of-the-box integration to CPQ
When using a 3rd party visualization for a CPQ + visualization project, it is not one standard product that is offered. It will always be two products (from two vendors) + an integration between what is offered. This integration needs to be maintained and adjusted as well over time since interfaces are likely going to change.
With Tacton it’s one platform, everything out-of-the-box and everything developed and improved together ensuring a working solution all the time with no additional efforts.
One approach for all use cases
Depending on the use cases and related platforms you like to support with your Visualization solution, it is quite hard to find only one engine to support all of them in the best way. Web-focused engines have a hard time utilizing the full power of native platforms and engines with a native-first approach struggle more when used in web-based scenarios.
Supporting native mobile apps as best as possible on top makes it even more complex to find a proper engine. Most Game Engines and Rendering Engines with a focus on the web need supporting technologies to run natively on desktop or mobile devices, reducing the benefits of running natively. If you are not able to solve all use cases with one engine, the complexity of the tech stack and all workflows and tools around it is increasing quite drastically.
With Tacton’s own visualization, we are able to support all our customers use cases out-of-the-box with the same approach and workflows. You do not need to add additional tools or processes to support web and mobile.
An integrated visualization solution with CPQ can be your next big win
Visualization is a complex topic, with so many different options for success it can be difficult to pick one that is right for your business. If you’re in the manufacturing industry, it’s important to work with providers who have experience in the field. At Tacton we’ve got over 20 years of visualization experience, specifically for manufacturing. Learn more by scheduling your personalized visualization demo or get your complete guide to all things Visualization!