New dimension for business

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
14 January 2014

16 January 2014 | Paul Snell

Paul SnellI am a 3D printing sceptic. While enthusiasts for the technology have proclaimed its disruptive potential in business for some time, I have been left unconvinced.

But, momentum appears to be building. It has been highlighted as a ‘top trend’ for 2014, and as our in-depth look points out, share prices of the major manufacturers of 3D printers have more than doubled over the past 12 months.

Even on the morning I write this, it has just been announced that the RAF has flown fighter jets with 3D printed parts for the first time. And, it is suggested, this could cut the RAF’s maintenance bill by £1.2 million over the next four years. But this is no overnight phenomenon. As our article points out, it has taken near-on 20 years for the technology to be considered a serious proposition.

I am conscious I don’t want to suffer the same fate as the chap who wrote the automobile off as a “novelty”, or the person who couldn’t envisage 
the need for a computer in the home. And so at the start of a new year, what better time to put such cynicism to one side, and consider innovation 
with an open mind?

Indeed, a characteristic that puts successful leaders ahead of the competition in business is 
their ability to spot trends and capitalise on them. BT CPO Hari Sundaresan frequently likes to remind his staff: 
“Leaders make change happen”.

Whether 3D printing takes off this year, in five, or twenty years time, now is an opportune moment to consider how you can “make change happen” in your organisation in 2014.

• If one of your New Year resolutions was to increase the size of your professional network, to swap ideas with peers – or simply to get out of the house more often – join us at the CIPS Annual Dinner in London on 12 March. For tickets, call +44 (0)20 7324 2755, or email or visit

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