It was 3 years ago when I stumbled upon an article that would become instrumental in shaping the way we approach technology at Antenna. The article was about Volkswagen’s decision to implement a product development strategy to drive efficiency throughout their portfolio. They called it a modular approach that looked at how various elements could fit together in order to achieve more commonization both in product and process. Without having a simple cookie-cutter methodology to vehicle development, Volkswagen was offering variation in their product offerings, simplifying the manufacturing of cars and the selection of machine tools for their factories.
Upon reading this, it struck me - if we could apply the same innovative ethos to Antenna’s technology, what might that look like?
Context is key
Innovation starts with a question. It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, in our experience, it most often requires taking an idea and changing its context. For Antenna, this meant understanding Volkswagen’s modular approach and loosely applying it to form our vision around creating a commonality in the audio devices we manufacture. Developing products for our global markets once meant considerable complexity, but we soon discovered we could go common with a significant amount of flexibility. The result was two high quality, lightweight and elegantly designed audio products, with the same fit and finish. The simplicity in their form means that we can use external parts (such as screws, wiring loom and connectors) that are mutually interchangeable.
The beauty of this innovative solution is the value creation and significant cutbacks it enables in multiple areas:
- From a sustainability perspective, we have reduced the amount of parts previously used (by more than half), enabling a considerable amount of reusable parts across both devices. This creates efficiencies of scale because it enables business growth without being hampered by the product’s structure or available resources.
- From a procurement and supply chain perspective, the buying of common parts acts as an immediate cost-saving tactic and greatly simplifies the complexity of our supply chain.
- Our technical staff spend less of their time repairing overly complex devices, giving them greater scope to develop new skills and pursue creativity, without interference.
- The customer is happier as the products are more resilient and provide the visitor with a superior user experience.
Expect the unexpected
The most important ideology for a business is to strive for better processes and efficiencies in ways that best suit human needs - regardless of the scale of the challenge. When you do this, you allow your organization to pivot from building and repairing to delighting the customer with memorable experiences. At Antenna, having the right mindsets, collaborative teams and environments to support our creative solutions mean remembering that the best ideas can come at any time, from anywhere. It simply requires listening for the unexpected - and being thoughtful about innovation.
How are you getting from point A to point B while creating a ton of efficiency at the same time?
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”