HP: Sonita Lontoh, On Building Awareness In Emerging Technologies Like 3D Printing
All right, so let’s get started. In today’s episode, I have Sonita Lontoh here, who is from HP. She’s actually the VP of Global Marketing for HP under their 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Division. Sonita, thank you so much for joining us today.Sonita:
Thank you very much for having me.Danny:
So, long title, there’s a lot going on there. So, maybe tell me a little bit about what your role is there at HP with the 3D printing and digital manufacturing.Sonita:
All right, so I joined HP about a year ago doing global marketing for this new business, and actually, I’ve always been interested in the intersection of new technology, the business model, and policies, and my experience has been really diverse, from the entrepreneurial, to venture-backed Silicon Valley companies, to Fortune Global 100 companies, and my role and responsibilities here really is to position HP as that trusted solutions leader that helps our industrial customers, industrial manufacturing customers, succeed in their digital manufacturing journey, and when you think about it, that’s actually quite a departure from the core historical of who HP is, ’cause I think most people know HP mainly as a consumer and commercial human technology company, but this new foray, this new business into 3D printing and digital manufacturing is slightly different than the traditional HP, right? As probably your audience knows in the world of industrial manufacturing, it is not enough, I would say, for a technology company to only be viewed as a hardware technology vendor, but it more important for the company to be viewed as that trusted solutions leader that actually has the expertise in the end-to-end solutions, namely hardware technology, software, and services, to help the industrial customer succeed in their journey.
Because, at the end of the day, when you think about it, customers want to apply new technologies such as 3D printing or digital manufacturing to really achieve benefits. And, there are many benefits of 3D printing, but, in general, I would summarize them into three things. The first is to help our industrial customers achieve operational efficiencies for their own manufacturing operations internally. Second, to help our industrial customers to be able to provide superior customer experience for their end consumers, externally. And, last, which is usually the hardest, especially for big, incumbent manufacturers, is to create new business models and new revenue streams that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. And so, a lot of my marketing activities here at HP really focus on developing the strategies and executing on a multi-problem, multi-channel marketing plan, then position HP as that trusted solutions leader.Danny:
Excellent, yeah, and this whole digital transformation piece that’s happening is just rapidly evolving. The manufacturers, industrial companies as we know it, and I think the whole 3D printing aspect in particular is very fascinating. We’re seeing a lot of manufacturers that are very excited about it, for many, many reasons. So, on that note, maybe we can jump into a little bit of, maybe some interesting innovations, or the different applications that you’re seeing that you’re rolling out with your solutions.Sonita:
Great, and I’m glad you’re asking about applications, because, I think in this world of 3D printing and digital manufacturing, hey, great to have technology, but at the end of the day, what kind of applications that eventually deliver benefits that you can enable? So, there are many applications, Danny, that can be enabled by 3D printing, ranging from automotive, to aerospace, to medical, to consumer products. You name it, it’s really endless. When you look at 3D printing, it’s really being used for three things. The first is for functional prototyping, the second is for manufacturing aids, and the third, which is the most important, is actually for final parts productions. And, for those in the audience who may not be familiar, 3D printing has actually been around for 30 years, but in the past, it had been primarily been used only for prototyping. But, in the past few years, with the advancement of the technology and also the knowledge, we have seen more and more use of 3D printings for industrial manufacturing applications.
So 3D printing, in the role of industrial manufacturing, enables three cool things. The first, it enables new geometries that wouldn’t be possible. The second, it enabled new part properties, that also wouldn’t be possible otherwise. And, the third thing, it also enabled new mass customizations that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. So, here, I would actually like to share with the audience this Apple, and probably you cannot see the whole thing, but this is a 3D-printed iPhone case right here, as you can see, the whole thing was 3D printed. It was a lattice structure, and it has actually my name embossed on it. And, another interesting application of 3D printing that leverage mass customization is eyewear that can be 3D printed to best fit your head and your face. And then, dental liners can be 3D printed, as well to best fit your teeth and your mouth. Like Invisalign, and Smile Direct, and all those dental liner companies. And, last but not least, orthotics and prosthetics that can be 3D printed and personalized to best fit your body.
And so, while a lot of these more consumer-oriented and medical products are interesting, HP is also focusing on industrial applications, especially in automotive. And, with the advent of new automotive platforms, especially for electric vehicles and for autonomous vehicles, there will be many automotive parts that will be 3D printed, and why is that? And, the reason is because when you start going to electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, it’s actually a big advantage for parts to be 3D printed, because one, it reduces the weight of the car, and then, second, because of that, it increases the car efficiencies, and then, last but not least, if you have customized, 3D-printed interiors inside the car, it provides superior customer experience for the end consumer. So, in this particular area, we’re working with many ecosystem partners, including leading companies like Volkswagen. They’re actually the largest auto company in the world, and we’re working with these ecosystem partners and customers who look to leverage our technology to help them, within their digital manufacturing journey.Danny:
Absolutely, that’s fantastic. So many different applications. I can see how that, it’s kind of endless. I know one area in particular I’m curious about, as far as the different materials that you’re able to do. I’m hearing a lot that metal is starting to be a big area. Do you have anything like that in the future coming down?Sonita:
Oh, actually, we at HP, we did launch this business three years ago, primarily with polymer, with plastics. However, last year, Danny, we actually launched our metals business, so the metals technology. The printer itself is not ready yet, but it will be ready by the end of next year. However, we are, today, already enabling those customers who are interested to actually 3D print metals, for production, through some of our production partners. So, to answer your question, material’s actually one of these most important factors to enable industrial 3D printing, and again, I don’t want to bore the audience with regard to all the different technical materials, but even when you say plastic, there is PA12, PA12 glass beads, PA11, there’s all types of plastics materials depending on the applications. And, the same thing with metals. So, materials, it’s really one of the enabler, actually, to make 3D printing more industrial.Danny:
That’s super exciting, and I love that, I could geek out this all day, but let’s move a little bit into the sales and marketing aspect in terms of rolling out this new solution which is a little bit of a newer approach for HP. How are you guys building that demand, and really go about it from an awareness standpoint?Sonita:
Yeah, great question, and actually, the way I would view it is really a journey, so it is new to HP, definitely, this whole industrial approach to marketing, but 3D printing and digital manufacturing itself is still an emerging new technology, as well, to industrial manufacturers. So, it’s like new, new, everything is new, and everything is evolving, everything is emerging. And, so the approach to marketing, I would say, is very different from the marketing approaches for an established category, because this category is not established yet, in the mainstream, at least. Even for industrial manufacturers. So, really, a lot of our marketing strategies and activities are focusing on three pillars, Danny.
So, the first pillar is what I would call building the market, and creating awareness. So, building the market is actually important, because, again, the market is emerging, right? And so, for that, a lot of our activities are focusing on building these multi-channel, multi-touch marketing plans that really showcased all the possibilities and all the benefits that 3D printing can deliver. And then, in addition to that, we also showcase our thought leadership, because, again, it’s an emerging area, so a leader such as HP has to have a point of view, of what does digital manufacturing mean, and what kind of benefits, and how does it fit in with all of the other advanced technologies in manufacturing, but we also showcase our thought leadership with industry analysts, industry influencers, and the ecosystem partners and customers.
And then, the second pillar is what I would call showcase our customer successes. This is like customer advocacy, as I would say, the audience probably understands, in the industrial world, nothing speaks louder than the customer’s success. As a technology provider, you can say all you want, but until a customer that I think his or her peers respect, shares something, probably shares their best practices, lessons learned, how they’re leveraging our technology to deliver benefits for them and to achieve their business objectives, I just don’t think… I cannot say enough about the importance, really, about customer advocacy. So, in marketing, we work hard to document and also showcase all of these customer successes, be it through our videos, our case studies. We let our customers present at industry events. We do webinars together. We do a lot of things to really let the customer shine, because, at the end of the day, that’s how you showcase that you’re actually delivering value.
And then, the last thing, the last pillar, is what I would call the educating market and creating demand. So, again, because 3D printing is still relatively new, but, actually, for manufacturers, to truly benefit from 3D printing, they have to know how to design the product for 3D printing. So if they are only 3D printing a product that was traditionally designed for traditional manufacturing, they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the full value. So, because of that, we do a lot of workshops. It’s called Design for Additive Manufacturing. We also have digital minds consulting services where we try to change people’s minds, work with potential customers and partners to teach them which applications would be a good fit for them. To adopt 3D printing, helping them to build the business case, the technical case, and so on, and so forth. So that’s what a lot of that we do in terms of creating demand in the market.Danny:
That’s fantastic, that’s great. You know, I love the approach there. Especially, you talked about, at the very beginning, in terms of building that market. Big word, we throw it around a lot, omni channel, but really at the end of the day, it so important, I think, with a lot of our audience members, too, just to think the way that we buy has changed, and it’s very different, and it’s important to make sure that’s it’s not necessarily one channel, that it’s across the board. And, you had to have that message, but it’s packaged in different ways across how the different type of content and that media is best communicated. So, and then I love the customer success pieces. Testimonials, obviously, case studies in the advocacy piece are important, but one thing that I thought was interesting that I think that a lot of, some of our audience sometimes, we tend to forget a little bit, is the best practices piece. Here, let’s share that story, here’s the ROI, great thing, but hey, here’s the lessons learned. Here’s how you might want to be set up for success over here, and I think that’s very, very valuable.Sonita:
Yeah, and actually, just to pound on that a little bit, Danny, because again, as I said, digital manufacturing is actually a journey, because it’s still not mainstream, and each customer is different, because they have a different sets of challenges and opportunities, and some customers might start in one way, and they want to focus on certain applications, others may want to start other ways, and other sets of applications, but the point is, I think, for HP, is no matter where the customer starts his or her journey, that we have the comprehensive and integrated solutions and expertise and also other customers that can share their best practices and their lessons learned to help the other customers succeed in their own journey.Danny:
Absolutely, and I think that’s part of that enablement piece, I think, to be able to, because the reality of it is, making some of these transitions, it can be fearful. Is this going to work? Is it not? And so, just to help to be able to minimize those barriers.Sonita:
Yeah, so in a way, this is actually a form of digital transformation for the manufacturing process. I know digital transformation is this word that everyone throws out there, right? But, truly, for me, this is an example of a digital transformation for the manufacturing sector.Danny:
Absolutely, and a lot going on there. So, it sounds like there’s a lot of things that you guys have on the horizon. What’s next, what’s that big, next exciting thing that’s coming down the road for HP?Sonita:
Man, there are so many things. This business moves so fast. I think we, of course, we keep improving our systems, and right now, as I’ve mentioned to you, we understand that it’s not all just about the hardware technology. We understand it’s about the end-to-end solutions, which means, the hardware, the materials, the software, the services. And, I think what is really big for us right now, we also understand that you cannot do it all by yourself. I think each ecosystem partner has a role in it, and that’s why we have, I’m not going to mention each one, but we have a set of ecosystem partners that we really work with closely, in order to be able to deliver, at the end of the day, that end to end solution.
So, for an example, actually, about three weeks ago, I think we announced the expansion of our alliance with Siemens. Of course, as you know, Siemens is one of the leading digital industrial companies. And, what we did is, we expanded our alliance to make sure that our additive manufacturing systems are actually integrated within the Siemens end-to-end factory solutions. Because they have it from the design to the engineering, to the manufacturing, to the production, all the way to connecting to the digital twin and their MindSphere industrial IOT platform. And so, I think for HP, we’re realizing that in order to truly transform digital manufacturing, deliver benefits to our customers, we have to make sure that our system can be integrated within an end-to-end factory workflow. So, many things coming, of course, more materials, more applications, but also ensuring that our system can integrate within the larger digital factory environment.Danny:
Exactly, yeah. It’s a big team approach, it’s not just one and done. Not just one. You are stronger together, and it takes all the different partners to do this, yeah, absolutely.Sonita:
Excellent. Well, Sonita, this has been a fantastic conversation. I really am very thankful for you for coming on IndustrialSage. If anybody would love to learn more about your solutions or have any questions for you, what’s the best way to get in touch?Sonita:
Yeah, I would say the best way is to actually, to get in touch with me, I have a LinkedIn profile, which is my name, Sonita Lontoh, and I have a Twitter, @slontoh. But, if you’re interested to learn more about HP Solutions, go to hp.com and click on 3D Printing.Danny:
Excellent, a lot of ways to get a hold of you guys. So, you got the omnichannel thing going on, that’s great. Sonita, thank you again, so much, for coming on, and sharing this information with us.Sonita:
Thank you very much, and hopefully, it’s useful.Danny:
I think it’ll be very useful, thanks so much. So, there you go. Great episode here with IndustrialSage, again, with Sonita Lontoh from HP. There’s a lot of great things, at least for me, that I feel like we were able to unpack on here, and one thing that I mentioned, she mentioned three pillars from the market, and there’s some subsets there, and one being building that market, the next piece is showcasing success, and that customer advocacy piece. In particular in that, I loved the aspect of not just sharing those stories and that ROI and that case study. We know that’s really important, but also helping to share some of those best practices, and those learnings. So, particularly in a market where we are looking to, it’s an emerging market. Where, maybe not everyone is used to it, there’s a lot of fear, and maybe a little bit of trepidation that we can go, and say, “Look, here’s some ways that we can enable you “to really roll out with this, “successfully, as much as we can.” I think that was fantastic. And then, obviously, educating the market, and really helping to create that demand, and really being those thought leaders and putting out that content.
So, a lot of great things to unpack here. Hopefully, you have one or two key takeaways that you can implement, as you think about this today. And, that’s all I’ve got for you today on this episode. Thanks for watching, if you have any questions, you can reach out to us at industrialsage.com/questions. We’d love to answer them for you. If you’re listening on any of the podcasting stations, we’d love a review. Social media, share our stuff, we’d love it. Share the love. So, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Thanks so much for watching, or listening, depending on how you’re consuming this. I’ll catch you next week, I’m Danny Gonzales, and this is IndustrialSage.
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