While I’m talking about changing methods of marketing and production, I’m also forced to consider how I’m doing so. The fact that, you, now, are reading a blog from a sink company (Nantucket Sinks USA) speaks volumes about how all business herein has irrevocably changed. Our customers, present and future, are people who consume information in decidedly nontraditional ways, and any successful operation has to understand that. Recent years have seen rapid growth in mobile computing, smart phones, and thus has led to a new brand of customer. The “thumb-typers” we hope purchase our sinks are never without a ready source of information, even (some might say especially) when using a fixture located directly next to one of our fine bathroom sink models like our new UM-16 x11. The fact that the stream (of information) is constant ensures that to compete, we all need to participate, and participate consistently. Our target buyer is also in some cases who we hire. Reaching potential customers is an active, not a static endeavor, and our marketing efforts, virtual profile and sales portals need to be accessible, ubiquitous and engaging, hence this blog. You’re engaged, right? Maybe?
The reality of disintegrating layers of separation between manufacturers and their prospective customers also links with our earlier discussion of the US/China trade war. Through the global reach of the internet, entrepreneurs with a solid concept and a strong online presence can subvert the traditional requirements for selling a product and democratize access to the marketplace. For years, American “makers” have chosen to outsource the means of production to other countries to minimize labor and associated costs. As the virtual marketplace grows in stature, many functions once sent overseas are pulled online from disparate places online to streamline the process and reduce reliance upon foreign work-forces. The traditional infrastructure is rapidly rotting. Labor leaders have long bemoaned the demise of the “company man” coming off the line to management, a suburban home, a gold watch and a pension. This “American Dream” has gone the way of the three martini lunch and the sweet, sweet Twinkie, but what’s taking its place?
The notion that wresting production from foreign factories will bring back the Great American Worker is a false one. Jobs will come back, but not in their original form or number. In The Rise of the Robotic Workforce, David Freedman heralds the growing importance of robots in the workplace, and reasonable people can differ about the import on different industries, but I for one welcome our new robotic overlords and their emotionless rule over us all (Please forgive me, they may be reading this). The new American Dream may yet be an echo of the old, but in this version, our workers are learning to program, repair and, in fact, “teach” the robots how to do jobs once done by men. Innovations like these in American industries can save costs create efficiencies and spare us all from any grisly tales of things getting caught in a conveyor belt. This time last century, Henry Ford revolutionized auto production and manufacturing through reliance upon the assembly line. It made America the most prosperous nation in the world and modernized industry forever. Can robotics do the same? Will tech skills replace sweat equity? Will a monotone voice named Hal call you for an interview?
No matter how many times we re-invent the process, flexibility, innovation, and sometimes catching lightning are the only differentiators standing in the way of success.