A typical manufacturer of an engineered product (software, hardware, machines and tools of all kinds, building infrastructure or networks) allows especially its big customers to tailor the product to a high degree. This works well in a B2B environment where the buyers have engineering staff that can extend, integrate, “hack” and operate the product.
But what if the customer does not have engineers to decide, install and operate the engineered product? In this case the customer does not want to carry any engineering risk, does not want to have high up-front costs and especially in business wants to pay for the product only as much as he makes use of it. The consequence is that the manufacturer needs to act more as a solution provider (e.g. software as a service).
Now here is the catch – if you allow your customers to have “any color” machines and if each machine is differerent including engineering work per machine then you will have a hard time reacting to more or less use of the product by the customer by replacing the machine with a different one.
In this case a fleet of 3 models of small, medium and larger copier machines which in some cases have more features then required but can scale as the customers make more use of the product is the better choice. So a manufacturer that was used to offering any special or customization the customer wanted, will need to re-think how many options they want to offer. Ideally he provides less options closer to the usage model of the product – Featuring the latest technical options? You better forget it!
When you consider using CRM 7.0 for selling your product as a bundle of machine + service + supplies + operations and charge per use you therefore should check how many of the myriad of options you still want to offer from all the BOM’s and characteristics you have defined in ERP.
So Henry Ford’s answer to above question is simple: “Any customer can have any colour he wants as long as its black”.