Adaptation Featured

7:00pm EDT January 30, 2003

This year's crop of eVolution in Manufacturing honorees represent some of the best practices in this next wave of more responsible e-business solutions. Reviewing the applications this year left me thinking one thing -- each of the winners gets it.

No longer are companies trying to out-technology each other with the latest and greatest innovations designed for the Wow Factor. Instead, these seven businesses have employed their e-business solutions to achieve a mixture of cost savings, revenue enhancement, productivity enhancement and waste reduction, specifically in unnecessary manpower and paperwork.

They've accomplished this not only for themselves but also for their customers and business partners throughout the supply chain. The truism in manufacturing today is that companies need to get their business partners excited about using the new systems if they expect to replace or enhance their existing business activity models.

Excitement about -- and acceptance of -- the system comes when the application delivers benefits to users over the existing business processes. Without buy-in, the benefits may never be realized. This may seem basic, but it is fundamental to the success of e-commerce applications.

Several of this year's nominees included appropriate business partners all the way from the design stage through the continued evolution of their systems.

Moen, for example, solicited input from seven of its suppliers when designing its SupplyNet initiative. They attended regular meetings with Moen's in-house IT department throughout the process, which helped create the buy-in necessary to get 130 of Moen's suppliers to take advantage of the system once it was deployed.

Another key element was that most of the applicants did not rely on revenue growth as the basis for success. Genie Repros' online proofing system had many innovations, but the key benefits included significant internal cost savings and hard cost and time-to-print reductions for its business partners.

These types of elements represent significant competitive advantages and can be the impetus for new barriers to entry that competitors must suddenly take into consideration.

As the nominees and honorees for this year's eVolution award have clearly demonstrated, providing benefits for your supply chain partners and involving them in the design of your application creates a powerful tool. In doing so, companies can achieve the realistic return on investment that was envisioned by the early adopters of technology.

CAMP Inc. supports this pragmatic approach to creating economically viable solutions that work. I personally applaud the nominees' efforts and believe these companies are leading the way for the needed technological revitalization in the region.

Congratulations to all of this year's honorees. Stephen Gage is president of CAMP Inc., title sponsor of the eVolution in Manufacturing awards.