‘A quality 4.0 approach can unleash tremendous business opportunity’

6 Mar 2020

Morgan Palmer. Image: ETQ

Morgan Palmer, CTO at ETQ, discusses his role at the compliance management software company and why he values ‘quality 4.0’.

Morgan Palmer is CTO at ETQ, a compliance management software company working with international clients in a variety of industries, from aerospace and automotive to biotech and pharmaceuticals.

Palmer has been in the field for more than 20 years, having received an MBA from the University of Arizona following his studies in marketing, business administration and management.

Here, he tells us about the four key areas of focus at ETQ and how he believes digital transformation should be approached in the manufacturing sector.

‘Digital transformation initiatives are impacting every industry, and manufacturing is no exception’

Tell me about your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

As the CTO, I’m responsible for product development and optimisation. I spend a lot of my time speaking with customers and industry analysts to understand both current and future needs for quality management.

By staying intimately aware of their challenges and goals, I can work with my team to develop solutions and capabilities that address the most important business objectives.

Are you spearheading any major products or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

At ETQ, our strategy is rooted in four key themes: usability, flexibility, analytics and SaaS.

When we talk about usability, our aim is to make it as easy as possible for casual users – that is, people who may be less familiar with IT systems – to input data from their respective departments into our platform. Suppliers, contractors and other external stakeholders represent an important, yet often ignored, community of casual users.

As a result, our customers can have a more comprehensive view of business processes to ensure quality standards are being met consistently throughout the entire product value chain. This, in turn, helps promote a better culture of quality.

When we talk about flexibility, we mean that we want to provide an optimised experience when implementing our solutions and advanced features. Though our platform offers quality management and compliance best practices out of the box, we realise that businesses often derive significantly more value from adapting those processes to meet their unique needs, systems and processes. We make sure our platform is flexible to meet these unique needs in a timely fashion without customising the software.

Our efforts with analytics are particularly topical right now. We recently launched ETQ Insights to offer quality practitioners an advanced analytics solution for collecting and analysing data specific to quality. This information, presented via interactive and configurable dashboards for easy and comprehensive visualisation, enables users to make better decisions to drive continuous improvement.

Lastly, everything we do is SaaS. We have seven integrated SaaS solutions including quality by design, non-conformance handling, supply chain quality, complaints management for life sciences, health and safety, environmental management and enterprise risk management.

How big is your team? Do you outsource where possible?

Our team is growing, and we do not outsource development.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

Digital transformation initiatives are impacting every industry, and manufacturing is no exception. This relates to what we refer to as ‘quality 4.0’, a concept coined by LNS Research, applying industry 4.0 solutions to quality management processes.

A quality 4.0 approach can unleash tremendous business opportunity. For instance, by collecting data from various streams – whether they’re social media feeds, IoT solutions or other business systems – organisations can have a much more complete view of what’s happening across their organisation. And through AI and machine learning, they can quickly glean analytical insights from this data to steer better decisions.

We’re addressing this opportunity by continually advancing our platform. As I mentioned, the tenets of our strategy are usability, flexibility, analytics and SaaS. Robust integrations with other sources of quality data is a critical capability to support this strategy and we are constantly evaluating how we can enhance our platform so our customers can efficiently collect data, analyse it and access those insights to make more informed decisions up, down and across the business.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

In our industry, SaaS is still fairly new. Companies and customers accept that they’re going to use it, but they’re not necessarily moving there quickly – yet. We’re fully supporting our customers to help get them there.

Analytics also present a game-changing opportunity in our industry. Right now, a lot of organisations still use Excel to manage quality initiatives. This is not only tedious, but also allows for error with manual data tracking and management. To improve quality, organisations need accurate, flexible analytics tools.

Mobile is another trend to watch. Though a small percentage of organisations use mobile devices to manage quality today, we expect more people – particularly those on the shop floor, such as inspectors and auditors – will leverage tablets and phones to update systems in real time.

I would also say that mobile, among other tech solutions like the IoT, offers more data to quality stakeholders. I expect more people to take advantage of this data to enhance quality management programmes and foster improved business performance overall.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

As companies collect more data, they need to stay up to speed with data privacy regulations to ensure they – and their suppliers – stay in compliance.

As a SaaS provider, ETQ takes this very, very seriously and we continue to strive to attain and exceed industry best practices in this area.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.