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How To Make Complex CPQ Selling Simple With Visual Configurators

Bottom Line: Realizing visual configurators’ full potential starts by enabling engineering, production, and sales to become real-time collaborators in creating new products.

2D, 3D, Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR) visual configurators are proliferating across the Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) landscape today. Manufacturing marketing teams say they are the most effective lead generation technology they have, responsible for 40%+ growth in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) this year alone. Sales VPs and Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) are seeing from 9% to 30% improvements in deal close rates and over 90% increases in quote accuracy. Visual configurators deliver shock-and-awe to prospects and drive more leads and deals.

Product Models Need To Scale, Driving Greater Collaboration

The good test of any product configurator is whether it can scale from assemble-to-order (ATO) to Engineer-To-Order (ETO) while enabling real-time collaboration between engineering, production, and sales. A given products’ many attributes and options defined by engineering in their PLM system need to be consistent with manufacturing’s work instructions and Bill of Materials (BOM) in their ERP system. And the visual configurator sales & marketing is using needs to reflect, in real-time, what engineering defined in PLM and what manufacturing’s ERP system can build. Product models serve as the master data that enables real-time collaboration between engineering, manufacturing, and sales.

Visual configurators need to push beyond the veneer of delivering shock-and-awe and enable real-time collaboration between PLM, ERP, and CRM & CPQ systems to achieve their full potential. Visual configuration providers need to pursue the goal of enabling engineering, manufacturing, and sales to be collaborators in creating accurate products and challenge themselves to deliver the following:

Predicting Visual Configuration’s Future

Shortening cycle times from product concept to completed product is the secret to succeeding with visual configuration. And when each manufacturing cycle time has its cadence or speed depending on how little or much a customer wants a product customized, visual configurators need to flex and deliver what customers want when.

Companies defining the future of visual configuration today include CDSDERWID, and SAP Visual Enterprise. These three companies are defining the future of visual configuration by enabling real-time integration between PLM, ERP, CRM, and CPQ systems.  I recently spoke with John Major, CEO of CDS to get his insights into what’s driving visual configuration’s success today.  “What we’re seeing in the marketplace now are two things. One is the clients want to understand how our visual configuration solution is going to fit into their change management as it’s rooted in PLM, because to any manufacturer, PLM reigns supreme,” he said. He continued, “The second is about staffing. When you’re a manufacturing company, and you buy a visual configurator toolkit that requires you to create your app, a few things happen. You need to staff up a software team to now run that toolkit and write development. So your long-term cost is fairly significant versus a company that can deliver an entire solution at scale.” 

CDS is partnering with eLogic, who is regarded as the leading system integration partner in CPQ and product configuration and is considered a global leader in delivering business solutions for manufacturers across SAP configuration technologies and Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Platform & Azure. Together they are delivering next-generation visual configuration solutions for their shared clients. Examples of the work they are doing are shown below:

Conclusion

Visual configurators are capable of so much more than they are delivering today. It’s time to graduate beyond the shock-and-awe stage, which has been very successful in driving leads, generating MQLs, and closing deals. It’s time to get down to the hard work of making all those impressive models buildable at scale and profitable. And that comes by doubling down efforts at shortening cycle times from product concept to completed product. That’s the true north of this market and the secret to succeeding. Getting engineering, manufacturing, and sales collaborating using product models as a single source of truth is the best place to start.

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