Why you should (re)SWOT your business

There is barely a day without a new announcement about a 3D printing* breakthrough or new 3D printable material or finding 3D printing new applications.

*I use “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” interchangeably

In most cases, 3D printing allows a totally new approach and reinvented value proposition, e.g. printing teeth, prosthetics, glasses frames, mechanical parts or fully functional systems, etc.

3D printing frees from many constraints, especially molds, complicated assemblies, other expensive tooling or multiple steps machining necessary to cut away material in traditional manufacturing.

It does not require to have huge series to ensure low unit cost and is “infinitely” flexible for design  changes and ready for almost any customization.

Additive manufacturing challenges former accumulated experience in traditional manufacturing and does not require expensive machines, thus breaks down many barriers and opens markets to new entrants.

As many applications of additive manufacturing already proved, there is virtually no business safe from 3D printing/additive manufacturing applications and the threat of new entrants.

Chances are that an unexpected competitor arises overnight with a revolutionary new approach to satisfy your customers, ruining years of investments, efforts and accumulation of experience.

The (potential) irony is that this new competitor can not only steal your business, but lock your company out of the market if it does not have the competences, know-how, agility nor resources to switch to the new manufacturing way.

Therefore it is wise for every – emphasize EVERY- business to SWOT-analyse itself from the perspective of the new manufacturing way.

Reminder: SWOT stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, a strategic analysis tool to assess the company’s position on the market and compare it to existing and potential competition.

Should Weaknesses and/or Threats prevail, the company is possibly in danger.

Yet 3D printing can also help reinvent the way your company does business and exploit the Strengths and/or Opportunities going the 3D printing way.

One more reason for swoting your business.


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2 thoughts on “Why you should (re)SWOT your business

  1. Christian, I think 3D printing should clearly and carefully define its own boundaries: what the potential added-value it is able to generate and what are the current barriers. I think you somewhat exaggerate the situation when you claim “there is virtually no business safe from 3D printing/additive manufacturing applications”. I agree with you that it can impact businesses in varied ways, not necessarily by producing a similar product. To my knowledge 3D printing cannot print food products, they might be able to product the package, but is it economically worthwhile? What are the economical barriers?

    Without proper analysis of the boundaries, the potential resulting values to different market segments, and without the understanding of what policies need to be changed due to the use of 3D, I’m afraid it’ll take another 20 years to fully exploit the potential of 3D.

    For instance, it is known that 3D is used to make product design much faster. Actually it should have revolutionize the whole role of product design. You can easily create a variety of competing designs before deciding upon the design to go. You can easily check the way people react to the final design, without having to look at 3d drawings, which requires from the spectator certain level of imagination to decide whether he/she likes the design or not. What I’m referring to is not the technology, but the required change of behavior.

    I find the 6 questions on the value of new technology, By the late Dr. Eli Goldratt an excellent way to generate an analysis on the boundaries, and potential value, of 3D printing. I find very damaging to believe that a certain technology or idea are good for everything, or even stating that “even the sky is not the limit.” One needs to carefully check the boundaries – they certainly exist and if you do not look for them you shoot yourself in the leg.

    Like

    • Thank you Eli for your challenging reservations.

      I will allow myself some time to reflect and if relevant, publish a new post correcting this one or a sequel of it.

      Yet the (paranoid) posture I am suggesting, in order to quickly mitigate risks of business disruption, is to assume 3D printing / additive manufacturing could disrupt it. Then look for possible evidences to back this assumption up and adapt to the threat (see the specific post on this) or invalidate the assumption.

      Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts!

      Christian

      Liked by 1 person

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