In life and in business, we all face challenges that call for us to either pivot and adapt or succumb to defeat. We sat down with Centric Software’s very own Christophe Therrey, Director of EMEA Sales, who shared the story of how he faced his fear of flying head on and how he helps his clients tackle their fear of fierce competition in the rapidly changing fashion, luxury and retail sectors. Buckle your seatbelts and read on to hear from one of Centric’s most colorful, fun and razor-sharp employees.
Can you tell the story of how you ended up becoming a pilot?
It’s true what they say that necessity is the mother of invention. About 15 years ago, I was on an extremely turbulent flight and that experience resulted in a fear of flying that I struggled with for quite some time. For my job, I need to travel by air frequently and I knew I needed to do something significant to overcome this hurdle. I realized the only cure for my fear of flying was to become a pilot myself. If I could understand the ins and outs of flying and have a sense of control of the flying experience, that was going to be my ticket to overcome the fear. And, it worked!
In addition to being a Sales Director with a leading global Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) provider, you’re also a teacher. Can you tell us more about that?
I teach MBA students about business models and business strategy and have focused on principles from an exceptional book, The Discipline of Market Leaders.
This book talks about how shareholder value is created and they discuss three crucial strategies: Customer Intimacy, Product Leadership and Operational Excellence which when executed well, can lead to great success. Interestingly though, many companies may excel at 1 of these 3, some companies are adept at 2 and far fewer companies effectively employ all 3.
Can you explain what Customer Intimacy is, how PLM supports it and what benefits can be achieved by applying this strategy?
Customer Intimacy is all about bringing the most intimate experience to your customers. They need to feel valued in a unique way and need to be serviced in a unique manner. An example of this that we can all relate to is when you walk into a store and the manager remembers who you are, what your size is, your favorite color and your preferred fabrics. The key concept here is the uniqueness (hence the intimacy) of the relationship.
Our software enables designers and merchandisers to elaborate products that bring unique value to their customers. By capturing customers’ requirements (perhaps through a CRM), they can use Centric PLM to put together powerful merchandise and line plans that enable wholesalers to offer what the market wants and therefore help create products that create unique perceived value for customers.
Another typical example of this is what customers can achieve with our Collection Management tools and our newly introduced Centric Visual Innovation Platform (CVIP). We can create digital, personalized catalogs to serve different channels and display products by size, color, season or style. Customers can then create their own shopping lists and feel they are being offered products that are 100% tailored to their taste.
Think about it as “haute couture” which is 100% customer specific; the ultimate benefit is that Customer Intimacy ensures customer and brand loyalty.
What are the key elements of Product Leadership, how does PLM help brands execute this strategy and what are the potential benefits?
Product Leadership or Product Innovation is all about bringing new products to market as quickly as possible. Companies establishing competitive differentiation using such a strategy are working hard to release as many new products to market, faster than their competitors, making time to market a key success factor.
By allowing merchandisers and designers to elaborate multiple “what if” scenarios, product variations are enabled in Centric PLM in a rapid manner ensuring the viability of style candidates without the need to go through an actual physical prototype or sample every time. This dramatically accelerates the product development cycle. Another key aspect is the ability to quickly incorporate and test a new fabric or new material making the product more innovative constantly.
A typical example of such an approach can be found with our customers in the fast fashion space. One could say that in the fast fashion industry there are actually 52 seasons, 1 per week. The amount of work required to create new products every week to hit stores is immense. Centric PLM equips decision makers with all of the tools to iterate multiple product versions and make the best possible decisions to increase their new product output efficiently.
The benefits to our customers of achieving peak Product Leadership are increased revenue and accelerated time to market.
Can you explain the key concepts of Operational Excellence and how PLM can support this strategy and lead to success?
Operational Excellence is a process-oriented strategy. It is the ability to offer the best possible combination of quality and cost to the market. This needs to be understood in the context of not necessarily offering the most innovative product but certainly the best compromise between quality and price.
By ensuring that quality is managed using PLM, our customers are able to manage that quality/price scenario in the most rational manner and create the most suitable product options. Our combined modular approach including costing, material management and supplier management allows our customers to rapidly simulate the cost impact of a new material and/or of a new supplier.
We have created a quality module which can manage quality testing libraries, leading to precise decision making very early on in the product development cycle. This enables accurate data on how decisions impact overall cost. The benefits of effectively integrating this strategy with PLM are an increased ability to effectively manage costs and decrease risk.
Thank you Christophe, this has been very educational and interesting. Do you have any final words of advice to companies who want take their businesses to new heights?
Centric’s customers are operating in rapidly changing and highly competitive marketplace. I recommend tackling challenges head on, as I did with my fear of flying. When you combine proven business strategies with innovative digital solutions, like Centric PLM, your business can soar.
Find out more about how you can use these 3 strategies with PLM to fly past the competition: