Connections – Revolutionary thinking

Posted on Oct 1, 2014 :: Connections
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer
Diego Tamburini. Photo courtesy New Manufacturing Alliance

Diego Tamburini. Photo courtesy New Manufacturing Alliance

Industry strategist Diego Tamburini of Autodesk is passionate about what’s happening in manufacturing, following trends and influencing forces, making forecasts and helping to develop the kinds of software tools that designers and engineers will need. He’s one of the keynote speakers at the fourth annual Manufacturing First Conference & Expo, which will be Wednesday, Oct. 22 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. In an email interview with Insight Associate Editor Nikki Kallio, Tamburini discussed the new industrial revolution and what the opportunities and challenges for manufacturers will be in this new climate.

What main idea do you hope to convey to New North companies?
The phenomenon called “the new industrial revolution” will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on manufacturers of every shape and size, and in every corner of the global market. At the core of this democratization of manufacturing is the fact that the means of production are accessible to more and more people, thanks largely to the digitalization of design and manufacturing, and the distribution and sharing capabilities of the Internet. The economies of scale are being disrupted, and now small players can also play the manufacturing game. These new players could be better positioned to satisfy the evolving expectations and buying behaviors of customers, and to bring innovative products quickly to market.

What do these changes mean for the many small- and mid-size manufacturers in our region?
It means that innovation is not an option anymore. Manufacturers must disrupt themselves and rethink almost all aspects of current processes, tools and results to remain relevant and competitive. Smaller, newer and more nimble players can come out from nowhere and disrupt your business.

Manufacturers will also have to get extra good at understanding and forecasting the demand from an increasingly fragmented market, with new expectations around personalization, sustainability, and product life. Customers are increasingly expecting that they will improve the performance of their products over time with regular “over-the-wire” software upgrades. They are also expecting value-added services (such as proactive maintenance) from the manufacturer.

What do they mean for consumers?
Consumers will benefit from the increased innovation from this fresh breed of inventors. They will also be more empowered to get exactly what they want by directly participating in the ideation, funding and development of the products. New players may be better positioned to satisfy “the long tail of demand,” and deliver products that are more personalized and unique. Mass production will continue to provide low-cost products, while mass customization will satisfy those customers that want more unique products and are willing to pay a premium for them.

What do they mean for developing a talented workforce?
The skills needed to work in manufacturing are undoubtedly changing – unfortunately sometimes more rapidly than society and the education system can adapt. There will be an increasing need for knowledge workers with analytical, collaboration and decision-making skills, rather than manual.

How can manufacturers attract the talent they’re looking for?
Great manufacturing talent will be attracted by progressive companies that embrace new innovation models and technologies; companies that encourage innovation from all its employees, in all areas of the firm. Younger talent, in particular, want to work in an agile environment, and feel empowered to innovate without the red tape of inflexible approval processes, boards and committees.

To register for the conference, visit

Tuesday, Oct. 14: The St. Norbert College CEO Breakfast & Strategy Series will feature Chris Lofgren of Schneider National speaking on “Leadership, Culture & Long-Term Competitive Advantage.” This is the first in the seven-speaker series. The cost is $60, or $450 for the entire series. All sessions are from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Lofgren will speak at the F.K. Bemis International Center at St. Norbert College. To register, contact [email protected].

MONDAY, Oct. 20: The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual dinner, featuring keynote speaker Robert O’Neill, former Navy SEAL. Advance, the economic development branch of the chamber, will present a new Excellence in Business Award. For information contact Cindy Gokey, (920) 496-8930.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5: The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce will host the Event Celebrating Business from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, Appleton. The Event is an awards program recognizing business achievement and community leadership. The cost is $75 per ticket or $1,000 for a corporate table of 10 with 10 drink tickets. For registration and information visit