The customer-supplier relationship has undergone a number of changes in recent years, especially driven by the strong level of innovation sweeping through industry...
August 31, 2022 . 2min read
Innovation is central to infrared technology. It’s more than just a concept, it’s an ideology and a key strategic business development factor that is pushing stakeholders in the infrared sector to advance even further with their research and find new applications.
The suppliers and manufacturers at the origin of these products therefore often play a central role. So, how do you know if your supplier is innovative enough? The key is to measure your supplier’s capacity to boost and support your innovation projects. We have a few keys and criteria to help you to do this.
1. Do they have teams of researchers dedicated to innovation and technological development?
A supplier is innovative if they take the lead with research and developing technologies. To do this, they need teams of technicians or researchers constantly working on finding new products, new markets, or new applications, and which are capable of advancing the technology to meet the new needs identified. Innovation shouldn’t just be an ambition, it should be a real strategic, structural process for your supplier.
Some of the most innovative suppliers develop partnerships with universities and research centers so they can work together on the latest studies and experiments underway on cutting-edge subjects. This means they can remain up to date with technological developments and the resulting uses and applications.
2. Is innovation an integral part of their strategic and commercial positioning?
Being an innovative partner isn’t just a position, innovation should be proudly and openly on show, as it contributes to a supplier’s brand image and their company’s identity. In short, innovation should be an integral part of their culture and ambitions.
Investing in R&D proves that they are constantly striving for innovation and want to place innovation at the center of their business development and growth strategy.
Taking part in forums and events relating to technological innovation also demonstrates a certain form of investment in innovation. It underlines the supplier’s determination to be part of the conversation about innovation and integrate it into their company’s identity.
An innovative supplier will also want to get involved in developing internal operating processes that promote innovation, such as committing to industry 4.0, which promotes performance, innovation, and productivity.
Finally, filing patents is also a strong indicator of a business’s genuine pursuit of innovation.
3. Is your supplier fostering customer/supplier cooperation?
Customer/supplier cooperation is key to the success of an innovation project: it guarantees its technical and commercial success. It is therefore important to evaluate how a supplier works with their customers to advance innovation projects and implement what is known as innovation management.
This customer/supplier cooperation should be established at the start of a project. It should include strategic and operational stages of the collaboration, and perhaps even shared governance of the project. There should also be an in-house process at both the customer’s and supplier’s company to ensure that both teams are heading in the same direction.
On the supplier side, this collaboration should rely on a team of both technical and commercial specialists: Key Account Managers maintain links with the customer from the outset and identify their needs and the difficulties encountered. Customer Support is a more technical entity which helps the customer through every phase of a product’s life, from pre-sale to after-sales service, technical support, and training.
The cooperation between a customer and their supplier to develop an innovative project requires a level of organization and mutual interaction that demands heavy involvement on both sides. But this cooperation promotes learning and is above all highly profitable for each party. That is why it is a good idea to join forces with a supplier who is strongly committed to innovation and who already has the experience and organizational structures in-house.
Find out all about LYNRED’s continual improvement process.