How to Meet Client Expectations amid Rising Competition in the Age of Manufacturing Digitization
Today’s manufacturers must grapple with rapidly changing customer demands and disruptive advancements in technology. Are these risks or value opportunities? GLOBIS Faculty Cristian Vlad sat down with Takashi Gamano, a product manager at OSG Europe, to hear how the Japanese tool manufacturer has met such challenges in Europe.
CV: You’ve been working for OSG in Brussels for about a decade. How do you create value for your business associates and clients in Europe?
TG: We are a Japanese company with a long tradition of manufacturing in Japan, so we brought the best of our technical knowledge to help our clients and associates. Our goal anywhere is to manufacture products with the greatest efficiency and reliability.
CV: Manufacturing these days is a very competitive business. How do you maintain your competitive advantage in such a tough market?
TG: You’re absolutely right. Being in manufacturing is more difficult and competitive than ever. At OSG Europe, we focus on engaging with customers deeply. That means frequent, face-to-face visits in order to provide precise technical knowledge and experience in support of their processes.
CV: What are your European clients’ expectations of OSG?
TG: Although OSG Europe is a European business, our customers still perceive us as Japanese. Therefore, there are very high expectations of Japan-level quality. We have a lot of European customers, as well as Japanese customers, in Europe. Regardless of where they come from, all of our customers expect us to provide consistently reliable products to maintain the precision of their own manufacturing.
CV: How do you utilize modern technology?
TG: We make a point to use the most up-to-date technologies for every stage of our processes. For example, to design tool specifications, develop new materials, or provide surface treatment, we strive to innovate our manufacturing techniques, processes, and logistics. But to us, “technology” is not only industrial or manufacturing equipment. This might have been the case twenty years back, but today technology is digital. We are exploring deep learning and cognitive science tech for our talent operations, and we’re also planning to implement robotic process automation very soon to improve our processes.
Technology is not stagnant, and neither is business. This is exactly why we invest resources in developing new processes and intelligent structures. Our customers need to stay relevant, and as a trusted business partner, we need to stay relevant to them.
CV: Do you have any advice for young leaders in your industry?
TG: Market needs are vast and varied, but what we can provide is limited. It is important to find areas where these needs and solutions coincide. Without that overlap, it’s nearly impossible to provide valuable quality services—or stay market relevant. I guess that this would be my core message: stay essential and strive to be relevant! Everything else will follow.
President & CEO, JCE Japan Creative Enterprise Talent & Engagement Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services GLOBIS Partner Faculty
A seasoned veteran of business transformation, organizational development, and innovation initiatives, Cristian is the president and CEO of JCE Japan Creative Enterprise, an agency which helps corporate teams transform their business and manage talent. Cristian has been advising global clients on the role of diversity, human capital, creativity and corporate communications as strategic business drivers to foster innovation and stimulate business growth. He is also an IBM Global Business Services consultant. Prior to his current role, Cristian was project manager at Toyota Motor Corporation, where he led a team of advanced product development professionals within the Corporate Value Creation Department. He also consulted on numerous organizational changes, corporate rebranding, and transformation projects. Cristian holds an MA in International Relations from Hirosaki University and a dual BA in Communications and Foreign Language Education from the University of Bucharest.
Product Manager, OSG Europe
Mr. Gamano began his career as a civil engineer in the construction industry. He joined OSG in 2001 as a tool design engineer. During this time, he visited customers around the world to better understand market needs for future developments. In 2004, he transferred to OSG's Global Design and Technology Center in Japan. Four years later, he moved to the European HQ in Belgium to enhance technical customer support for the expansion into Europe. Since 2015, he has worked in logistics operations, such as the automation of warehouse facilities. Mr. Gamano has a civil engineering degree from the Aichi Institute of Technology in Toyota, Aichi. Now based in Belgium, he spends his free time climbing mountains all over Europe.