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Few companies can say that 2022 wasn’t eventful. It was the year we were supposed to get out of COVID-19 hibernation. The year we went back to strong economic growth. The year for big tech to dominate manufacturing. None of those things happened.
Uncertainties in the macroeconomic environment and disappointing results of digital transformation efforts in manufacturing continued to challenge the manufacturing industry. Yet, this year still saw some significant shifts in mindset and philosophy, particularly toward the augmented lean philosophies, in which Tulip is both a steward and a pioneer. 2022 was definitely the “augmented” year for Tulip as we introduced the augmented lean philosophy to the world, inspired many organizations to concentrate on building human-centric operations, and grew extensively on our own.
For Tulip, 2023 kicked off with a bang as our CEO and Co-Founder Natan Linder headed to Davos to share his message on how to best accomplish manufacturing growth. For Natan, an MIT Media Lab Ph.D. and eternal contrarian, people come before technology, and operators come before managers. He believes in testing ideas organically in a ‘greenhouse’ instead of preaching change from atop a lighthouse. I watched him running the pre-launch of our book Augmented Lean in front of an audience of accomplished senior executives from international companies far bigger than his own. That has never stopped him. He knows that fast-growing startups can become the next decade’s established companies.
In April, Tulip had its Grand Opening of the Global HQ in Somerville, MA. We gathered hundreds within the manufacturing ecosystem to celebrate our new space on the grounds of a former Ford assembly factory, which also houses the Experience Center that now draws attention internationally. The new office was completed just in time for Tulip’s aggressive headcount growth. A whole 122 people have been added to the team, which increased our headcount to 266 people at the end of 2022. This puts Tulip among the Boston area’s top names among start-ups and certainly makes us a big employer in Somerville. The Grand Opening was attended by Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, which represents a new phase in our growth cycle as a startup. Greeting the Mayor’s office and hosting official delegations was an honor and a reaffirmation of our commitment to giving back to the community of Somerville.
This aggressive headcount growth enabled us to build an international workforce. We now have more than 11 nationalities among our employees and worldwide working locations, with US, Germany, and Hungary being the primary three cohorts. We also experimented with virtual hires and were able to grow headcount in areas where we were yet to establish an official presence. For me, it’s not just the number of languages spoken but the global literacy of the company overall that is exciting. We can now poll our own workers to figure out what is going on in the world and start accessing new markets with locals already on board.
The launch of the Augmented Lean book in October was another milestone for us—the event was so well received both among our own and by the media. We appeared in Fast Company, IndustryWeek, and Forbes, and I was interviewed on several podcasts about the book. “What is Augmented Lean?” is a common question in my interviews, and I see it as a testament to the poor progress with the industry 4.0 roll-out. Industry 4.0 is plagued by technology determinism which slows progress and tends to focus on the wrong technologies far too early in the innovation process.
Executives need a management framework that prioritizes humans over machines. Augmented lean fills that void by explaining when, why and how to augment their workforce. When you empower your frontline workers, you are investing in their growth, productivity, and loyalty. Increased efficiency of your machines is just a side effect.
Tulip’s growth this year is, in no small part, due to its forward-leaning approach to product development. In collaboration with our customers, Tulip creates digital applications that run critical aspects of manufacturing operations and supply chains, from digital work instructions and production visibility all the way through quality management and compliance and audit. The number of apps published by customers is now a staggering 10,673, many of which are with over 250 apps and content in the Tulip Library. With these apps, Tulip customers have completed 25,066,943 workflows, which means they have augmented more than 25 million tasks with digital apps.
But that is not all. In this year alone, the Tulip team released 23 platform updates with major features such as Analytics Insights, Mulit-lingual Apps, Custom Widgets, and Vision powered by AWS. Tulip University, our educational platform, added 6 new courses and Tulip Challenges to better assist customers in their digitization journey. Overall, Tulip’s user growth has increased by over 52% year over year, which is a testament to the value of the Tulip platform and ecosystem.
As the manufacturing world becomes more and more receptive to the augmented lean philosophy, it’s been truly an exciting year for operations transformation. By helping many organizations overcome fluctuations and deepening their resilience, augmented lean has proven to be an effective tool for managers to navigate a challenging economic landscape and strengthen their foundation.
Here’s to another year of success with augmented lean and Tulip’s platform!