This week’s episode is a real treat! We sat down to talk shop with Sonita Lontoh, even though she lives all the way across the country! Sonita is the Vice President of HP’s 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing division.

Before her time with HP, Sonita worked both in the high-speed environment of venture-backed Silicon Valley businesses, as well as with Fortune 100 companies.

Once again, she’s at the forefront of a hot topic. 3D printing and additive manufacturing have surged into the public eye within the past decade. But how long have these techniques actually been around?

More importantly, as with any emerging technology…how exactly does one market it?

1. THE APPLICATIONS OF 3D PRINTING

Most consumers know HP as a commercial human technologies company. Their laptops and tablets pose one of the biggest threats with the powerhouse that is Apple. Sonita’s division, on the other hand, focuses on manufacturers and industrial companies.

“It’s not enough for a technology company to only be viewed as a hardware technology vendor. It’s more important for the company to be viewed as that trusted solutions leader that actually has the expertise in the end-to-end solutions, namely hardware technology, software, and services.”

HP entered the field with plastics three years ago, and started working with metal as well last year. So for which industries is HP’s 3D printing most applicable? Trick question– every industry can benefit from additive manufacturing.

3D printing can be used for:

  • Functional Prototyping
  • Manufacturing Aids
  • Final Parts Production

Additive manufacturing reduces waste during parts production, but that’s not all. It can also allow for far more customization. From phone cases to glasses to orthodontia and prosthetics…the possibilities are endless.

Some industries, like automotive, have already been using these emerging technologies for years. Additive manufacturing reduces the weight of Volkswagen car parts and increases their efficiency– to say nothing of increasing customer experience with customizable options.

2. HOW DO YOU MARKET EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES?

If something is new to the world of your consumers, how do you take it to market? After all, 3D printing is such a new field…or is it?

Believe it or not, additive manufacturing was invented back in the eighties. It’s only just now advanced to a point where the technologies and resources to use them are far more accessible for independent users.

“3D printing has actually been around for 30 years, but in the past, it had been primarily been used only for prototyping. In the past few years, with the advancement of the technology…we have seen more and more use of 3D printings for industrial manufacturing applications.

“3D printing, in the role of industrial manufacturing, enables three cool things. First, it enables new geometries that wouldn’t be possible. Second, it enabled new part properties that also wouldn’t be possible otherwise. And, the third thing, it also enabled new mass customizations that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.”

The first step to building the market for emerging technologies like additive manufacturing is to create awareness.

If people don’t know what you’re selling or how it’s beneficial, they’re very unlikely to buy it. Accordingly, Sonita and HP focus on explaining the practical uses of additive manufacturing as a central tactic. They offer a lot of educational services and thought leadership to inform their consumers.

However, their very strongest spokespeople don’t actually work for the company.

“In the industrial world, nothing speaks louder than the customer’s success.

“I cannot say enough about the importance, really, about customer advocacy.”

Buyer testimonials, especially when filmed to feature a smiling human face, mean a lot more to your prospects. They know the speaker wasn’t paid to praise you– what they’re saying is genuine.

3. WHAT’S NEXT FOR HP IN THE MARKET FOR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING?

The industrial industry is moving more and more at lightning speed. More and more emerging technologies beyond just 3D printing keep coming from the ether. Digital manufacturing – the internet of things – represents another massive tidal wave hitting the manufacturing world.

For HP and many other companies, they’re realizing that one of the next big steps is to go beyond just hardware.

“We understand it’s about the end-to-end solutions: which means the hardware, the materials, the software, the services.”

For Sonita and HP, they ultimately strive to work closely with ecosystem partners in order to be able to deliver, at the end of the day, an end to end solution.

For example, HP recently announced their alliance with Siemens. Now they can create fully-integrated systems that combine HP’s 3D printing services with items like the Siemens Mindsphere industrial IoT platform. All of it can be used to service a digital factory from start to finish.

There can be a lot of fear in an emerging market when you’re trying to roll out with emerging technologies.

Providing valuable resources like thought leadership; customer testimonials; or end-to-end integration solutions can alleviate a lot of those buyer worries.

What are you doing to create awareness around the next big thing in your industry?

 

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