Recap: Digital Sales Fireside with Mohamed Iqbal Dabhoiwala

Posted by Leo Boon Yeow on Mar 24, 2022 9:41:44 AM
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"You need to involve the stakeholders pretty early on so that you know you're going to get sponsorship as you go on. You know that people will be committed to it as you go along."

- Mohamed Iqbal, SVP IT Applications, UCT

Episode Summary

Supply chain disruptions have been a severe problem for manufacturers in the past two years. Even then, they had to manage ongoing struggles with increasing customer demands, a global talent shortage, and the constant pressure to deliver faster, better, and cheaper. Overcoming these odds has been a top priority for many businesses in the manufacturing sector.

Their solution of choice? Digital solutions. However, simply adding technology into the mix is not enough. Their IT strategy is every bit as important as the technology they are adding to the business. One business was able to adapt its IT strategy to not only keep up with its customers—who themselves are accelerating—but also to stay one step ahead of their customers’ needs.

That company is Ultra Clean Technologies (UCT)—a leading provider of cleaning solutions for the semiconductor industry. In our recent Digital Sales Fireside, we were fortunate enough to hear from Mohamed Iqbal Dabhoiwala, a veteran business transformation leader at UCT, how the company was able to address its challenges with digital sales technology.


Digital Sales Fireside_Iqbal UCT


Watch the recording of the Digital Sales Fireside from 23/03/2022 to discover how UCT leveraged digital to stay one step ahead in the industry they serve.  

Watch the recording

Mohamed Iqbal Dabhoiwala shares insights on how a manufacturer's IT strategy is key to continued success

Episode Highlights

UCT’s unique manufacturing challenges in the semiconductor industry

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[1.00] - Ultra Clean Technology belongs to an industry, which is known as the wafer fabrication equipment industry. This is an industry that has consolidated over a period of time. And we are basically a low volume high complexity manufacturing industry.

We are more of an engineer-to-order, make-to-order than a make-to-stock, at least on some or most of our business. And we make equipment that is largely capital intensive. [It] requires a huge amount of investment, that goes into [the] making of wafers in the semiconductor industry.

We make machines that help [produce] next-generation technology and have a notable presence in all the critical elements of a semiconductor production process. It's a really complicated and complex industry that we operate in.

The business challenges that led to UCT’s manufacturing sales transformation

DSF Iqbal - 2.00

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[2.00] - We were actually on a trajectory to do this. But the pandemic has accelerated everything. It has really forced people, I would say, to really make progress very quickly. Because of the lack of chips, there are line downs in the automotive industry.

There are huge challenges in the supply chain. [Also], our customers are under pressure, and you know when you have pressure in the upstream it all flows downstream. So, tier one, tier two, tier three suppliers, everybody is under pressure to turn around very quickly.

And these challenges are global in nature. It's not restricted to a particular geography. The other thing is that we are a global company with multiple locations—so are our customers. And all these locations have to work with each other. They communicate with each other, and they must have transparency in each of their operations.

The challenge in coordinating everything is huge. If you really don't do it well, it leads to extended lead times and a lot of rework.

The other thing is that there is this huge challenge in terms of getting the right people today. And every industry is facing that. We would rather have our folks doing value-added work rather than doing some non-value-added work. Because you can't go and hire somebody because there is a paucity and a lack of talent in the employment market.

How did the Digital Sales Platform help UCT address its challenges?

DSF Iqbal - 3.51

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[3.51] - We were looking for such a platform that would, number one, accelerate our time-to-value. Number two, [the solution] would not turn us into a software development house. And number three, [it needed] to be flexible, moldable, and changeable based on the demands that our business condition would require.

All these things were some of the [implementation] challenges that we were trying to solve. We tried out other platforms and it really didn't work for us because the time-to-value was too [long]. It required a lot of customization to mold [them to fit our business].

For us, time-to-value was really important. And while it was important, the challenge that we had was that we had to find the right kind of [solution].

I mean we can't just go on a journey for two years, and then figure [it out and say] “hey, this is not the right [solution] for us.” We wanted to get up and running (with) at least the first piece of [the solution] in the first six months. 

Lessons learned during UCT’s manufacturing go-to-market transformation

DSF Iqbal - 5.08

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[5.10] - I think most [business] leaders [have] probably experienced this also. But here is what we found [during our transformation journey]. We thought, or at least I thought, that we took [a] significant amount of time to really choose a platform. At times, you really get into analysis paralysis. And I think that is something that people should really keep an eye on. You need to time-box it. It is the way I look at it.

And then [for] every project, [ask] what are the business problems you're trying to solve.

And we did a good job on that because we involved business very early [on]. You need to involve the stakeholders pretty early on so that you know you're going to get sponsorship as you go on. You know that people will be committed to it as you go along.

The sooner you start, the sooner you start achieving your goals. And the sooner you show people what this particular platform is capable of doing, [the sooner] it generates a whole lot of interest. People get engaged and you get actionable feedback. The sooner you get it in production, the sooner you will get very good feedback, [and] the sooner you'll be able to enrich the solution or the platform [according] to your needs.

We followed the Agile methodology to make sure that we are able to show, or display value to the end-users. To have them touch and feel it as soon as we could so that we could get feedback from a whole lot of people [who use the platform].

I think the user experience was really very important for a tool like this. Because this [Digital Sales Platform] really transforms the way people work. It helps them do things faster, more efficiently, and it cuts down a whole lot of non-value-added things. It just drives transparency.

Flexibility and speed are critical for adapting to manufacturing complexity 

DSF Iqbal - 7.03

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[7.00] - Well, I think that one of the things that we absolutely like is that we can get in fixes very quickly into the system. As I said, the flexibility [of the In Mind Cloud Digital Sales Platform] is just really mind-boggling.

The fact that you can really get these fixes in, [and] you can really make the change very quickly, is something that people just love. 

The way [our business] works is that we get design specifications from our customers. We are an aggregator, and we look at all the components that go into it. But sometimes with the designs, [we] know that [they are] not ready for manufacturing. So, we had to go back and forth with our customers on some of the designs [to get them] ready for manufacturing.

And that's where there are a lot of interactions involved, and it really needs to be very fast, very quick, very transparent. Because the people that you're dealing with would be in a different time zone. Similarly, we don't manufacture all the components that go into the assembly.

We have our own suppliers. So, when we give them the design specifications, we might have certain interactions with them too, because they would be facing the same problem that we're facing. And it just gets very complicated. So, this [is the] kind of complexity [that] can really be addressed.

Sum up UCT’s approach to digital transformation success

DSF Iqbal - 8.34

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[8.31] - You just need to keep on moving forward. And, as I said in the past if you want to fail, you have got to fail fast, rather than wait for a long time to do that.

It's all about action, action, action.

We hope you enjoyed watching our Digital Sales Fireside chat. We have more insightful interviews lined up in the near future, so make sure you sign up to receive an exclusive invite for our next Digital Sales Fireside.


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Leo Boon Yeow

Written by Leo Boon Yeow

Boon Yeow – is passionate about all things tech. His background as a journalist helps him understand complex B2B technology. His mission is to translate it into fact-based, comprehensible stories that help manufacturers improve their businesses.

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