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How Manufacturers Can Shift to Product-as-a-Service Offerings

Master Data Management Blog by Stibo Systems logo
| 5 minute read
April 20 2022

Whether their customers are individuals or global enterprises, all industries now face a range of challenges and opportunities presented by a ‘digital-first’ world. As a consequence, traditional companies are looking for ways of complementing and differentiating their product-based business models with value-based services.  A recent Frost & Sullivan estimation foresees that 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies are expected to develop new business models that provide product-as-a-service.

 

Table of contents

 

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What is Product-as-a-Service (PaaS)?

Product-as-a-Service, often abbreviated as PaaS, is a business model that emphasizes delivering value through a product's utilization rather than conventional product or service sales. It is primarily marketed based on its capacity to facilitate specific business outcomes.

PaaS initiatives can be observed in various industries, including discrete and process manufacturing, as well as consumer and business services. The service offered may involve utilizing a physical product manufactured by a company or accessing an application or cloud-based service. In both scenarios, the end user typically does not retain ownership of the product itself.

It's important to note that Product-as-a-Service is not limited solely to physical products and can encompass digital offerings as well.

Examples of Product-as-a-Service offerings in the manufacturing industry:

  • Apple sells music, but added its Apple Music service to develop subscription-based revenue streams which will potentially appeal to a different type of audience. In doing so, it reported adding over 10 million subscribers to its service.
  • Aircraft manufacturer, GE, offers efficiency and analytics services to help optimise flight procedures. Since it began using these services in 2011, Italian carrier Alitalia has saved over $34 million in fuel costs.
  • Philips Healthcare plan to use cloud services and IoT technology to provide remote monitoring services for patients in an aim to help reduce the number of visits required to hospitals and medical clinics.

In this last example, we see how the connected devices of the ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT), as part of an evolving digital transformation, are able to significantly support product-as-a-service offerings. Healthcare device manufacturers, for example, are increasingly offering monitoring solutions as product services.

While customers might value the ability of product-as-a-service to potentially reduce costs and free up resources, for manufacturers the value is a long term engagement in customer relationships.

 

What are the benefits of shifting forwards Product-as-a-Service offerings?

Transitioning to Product-as-a-Service offerings can yield several significant benefits for businesses. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Recurring revenue streams: PaaS models often involve subscription-based pricing or pay-per-use structures, providing a steady and predictable source of revenue for businesses, as opposed to one-time product sales.

  • Customer-centric approach: PaaS encourages a customer-centric approach by focusing on the value delivered to users. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and long-term relationships.

  • Lower upfront costs: Customers typically avoid the substantial upfront costs associated with purchasing products outright. This can make high-quality products and services more accessible to a broader audience.

  • Flexibility and scalability: PaaS offerings are often scalable, allowing customers to adjust their usage or subscription level based on their changing needs. This flexibility can attract a broader range of customers.

  • Data insights: PaaS models often collect data on product usage, enabling businesses to gain valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences. This data can inform product improvements and marketing strategies.

  • Sustainability: By promoting product sharing, optimization and efficiency, PaaS can contribute to sustainability efforts by reducing resource consumption and waste.

  • Competitive advantage: Adopting PaaS can differentiate a business from competitors and position it as innovative and forward-thinking in the marketplace.

  • Cross-Selling opportunities: PaaS models can open doors to cross-selling additional services or complementary products to existing customers, further boosting revenue.

  • Risk mitigation: Businesses can spread risk across a broader customer base, reducing their reliance on a small number of high-value product sales.

  • Access to new markets: PaaS can make it easier for businesses to enter new markets or reach underserved customer segments that may not have the means to purchase products outright.

  • Easier product updates: In digital PaaS offerings, updates and improvements can be rolled out seamlessly to all users, ensuring that customers always have access to the latest features and security updates.

  • Improved cash flow: Steady subscription-based revenue can improve cash flow predictability, helping businesses manage their finances more effectively.

  • Reduced maintenance burden: Businesses may assume less responsibility for maintenance and repairs, as some PaaS models include these services as part of the offering.

It's important to note that the benefits of transitioning to PaaS can vary depending on the industry, target market and the specific PaaS model implemented. However, when executed effectively, this shift can offer a strategic advantage and contribute to long-term business success.

 

How is Product-as-a-Service evolving?

Product-as-a-Service is undergoing specific evolutions within the manufacturing sector to address industry-specific challenges and opportunities. Here are some key ways PaaS is evolving in manufacturing:

  • Smart manufacturing and industry 4.0: PaaS is increasingly integrating with Industry 4.0 principles, leveraging technologies like the IoT, data analytics and automation. Manufacturers are using PaaS to create smart factories that optimize production processes, monitor equipment health in real time and predict maintenance needs.

  • Predictive maintenance: PaaS in manufacturing is evolving to offer predictive maintenance solutions. By analyzing data from sensors and equipment, PaaS can help manufacturers detect potential equipment failures before they occur, reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

  • Product lifecycle management (PLM): PaaS is extending its reach into product design and development with PLM integration. Manufacturers can collaborate on product designs, simulate production processes and manage product data more efficiently.

  • Supply chain optimization: PaaS solutions are helping manufacturers optimize their supply chains. This includes demand forecasting, inventory management and logistics optimization to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

  • Circular economy: Manufacturers are increasingly embracing the circular economy model, and PaaS is evolving to support this trend. PaaS can facilitate product-sharing models, remanufacturing and recycling initiatives to reduce waste and promote sustainability.

  • Servitization: Manufacturers are moving beyond just selling products to offering services and outcomes. PaaS plays a crucial role in enabling this shift by providing the infrastructure for delivering services and tracking their performance.

  • Additive manufacturing: PaaS is integrating with additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies. It allows manufacturers to offer 3D printing as a service, making it easier for customers to access and utilize this innovative production method.

  • Data analytics and AI: PaaS is leveraging advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence to extract valuable insights from manufacturing data. This can improve product quality, process efficiency and resource utilization.

  • Customization and personalization: PaaS is enabling mass customization in manufacturing. Manufacturers can offer highly customizable products and services to meet the specific needs and preferences of individual customers.

  • Remote monitoring and control: Manufacturers are using PaaS to remotely monitor and control manufacturing processes and equipment. This has become especially important in the context of global supply chains and remote work.

  • Regulatory compliance: PaaS providers in manufacturing are focusing on ensuring their solutions comply with industry-specific regulations and standards, such as ISO certifications and safety requirements.

  • Energy efficiency: PaaS solutions are evolving to help manufacturers optimize energy consumption and reduce their environmental footprint. This aligns with sustainability goals and regulatory pressures.

  • Collaboration platforms: PaaS is enabling collaboration across manufacturing ecosystems. Manufacturers can connect with suppliers, partners and customers in a more seamless and data-driven way.

  • Quality control and assurance: PaaS offerings are incorporating advanced quality control and assurance features, including real-time monitoring, defect detection and automated testing.

  • Worker safety: PaaS in manufacturing is evolving to include worker safety solutions, such as wearable technology and predictive analytics to prevent workplace accidents.

In the manufacturing sector, PaaS is playing a pivotal role in enhancing productivity, reducing costs and enabling innovation. Its evolution is closely tied to the broader trends and technological advancements shaping the manufacturing industry.


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Master Data Management Blog by Stibo Systems logo

During the past 20 years, Darren has been advising companies on selecting and implementing software tools that support their data governance strategy. Darren helps business leaders understand and quantify the positive impact that good data governance and data management, can have on their organization.

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