Services might be intangible, but that hasn’t stopped a top packaging manufacturer from cleverly wrapping them up. When Swiss tech firm Bobst realised that selling the world’s most advanced packaging technology could no longer sustain growth, they triggered their latent service potential instead.
Bobst encountered an issue with which many Western companies are familiar; low cost (and low quality) suppliers outside Europe putting prices under pressure. Lower prices would imply for Bobst a compromise on product quality; but Bobst decided to play a very different game.
‘Bobst underwent a crucial shift in their thinking’ said Noventum’s Hilbrand Rustema, ‘that however brilliant their technology, it was still just a means to an end,’ he said. ‘What customers really wanted was greater productivity via end-to-end solutions. What’s more, they trusted Bobst to deliver them.’
The strategy straight forward: Bobst should leverage their brand reputation for reliability and innovation towards their new service trajectory.
But first big hurdle surfaced straight away; Bobst were working with seven different brands globally, all functioning under different management models; services weren’t aligned, standards and pricing were disparate. If the answer to growth lay in their services, they needed a global plan.
In March 2012, the Bobst executive team decided to create a single One Bobst brand. In July 2012, they turned to Noventum to define and execute a global service transformation programme.
‘A lot of people said we just couldn’t do it,’ said Rustema. ‘That a global service strategy wouldn’t work on local levels.’ ‘But we don’t think regional requirements are altogether different,’ he said. ‘And Bobst really needed to reap the economy of scale.’
So Rustema set about achieving project buy-in. ‘When we showed all managers what growth was possible by benchmarking their potential across the industry, that provided a massive strategic impetus’.
‘We then harnessed their leadership’s passion towards their superior products, to help define a very specific vision and mission towards their services. This released a lot of energy and helped unify thinking,’ he said.
Unifying operations however, wasn’t so simple. The brand-driven strategy required a globally consistent customer experience and that meant standardisation. The solution? Noventum created a Book of Service Standards - a global undertaking requiring agreement from every regional and functional head. Modes of working were so disparate the project could have taken years, but it took only three months to agree on one model. ‘We came with proven models and were able to apply best practices,’ he said.
Using a Service Factory component model, Noventum are now rigorously employing a service design process helping Bobst balance a global standardised delivery with customer centricity.
‘We’re working towards creating full buy-in and acceptance of the Book of Standards at all management levels cross the organisation. Next is the selection and implementation of a completely new IT architecture, which is expected to gain momentum towards the end of this year. Meanwhile, all initiatives that do not require major changes in IT are also taking place’ said Rustema.
Although final roll out is expected at the end of 2014, Bobst's growth estimates have already rocketed from a steady three per cent per annum to double digit figures.
Not bad for a company renowned for its consistency.