Imagine doing business without face-to-face interaction. Video calls instead of in-person meetings, virtual waves instead of handshakes, and online presentations as opposed to live product demos. Six months ago this would’ve been laughable in the manufacturing industry. Today, manufacturing, which has relied on personal interaction for generations, has gone digital. For many manufacturers, digitisation has been on the roadmap as part of a longer-term plan. But, COVID-19 has made it an immediate priority, not an option for further down the track.
Today, virtual is the name of the game. People want the ability to do business without having to meet in person. They want Zoom meetings, virtual signatures, and the ability to work from any location at any time. Manufacturers need to be able to meet these expectations or they risk losing business to competitors.
Digital optimisation enables manufacturers to operate their businesses safely, at a distance and more efficiently, now and in the future, no matter what the situation. As daunting as transformation may initially seem, it doesn’t have to be. With the right technology supporting you every step of the way, digital optimisation can happen in a matter of months, not years.
A crawl, walk, run approach can help you build a cohesive framework that enables you to make strides in your efforts toward digital optimisation, and ultimately, transformation.
When thinking about where to start, begin by focusing on the highs and lows of your current customer and employee experiences. Ask yourself:
What are the friction points in your process?
What are customers asking of you? Are you able to deliver?
What can you put in place that will make it easier to do business with you?
When answering these questions, be completely honest. Hone in on detailed aspects of your business. For example, your collaborative sales and operations planning. What can you do to foster better cross-organisational collaboration so you have a more accurate prediction of supply/demand and predicted sales?
Next, it’s time to set your foundation. Cloud-based digital solutions, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform designed specifically for the manufacturing industry, provide a single source of truth. The ability for everyone to access the same tools and data greatly improves collaboration across your ecosystem. This means you can elevate your sales team’s input into the process, giving teams across all business functions visibility. Your employees (and customers) will be able to see an immediate positive impact from the actions they take on your platform. Think of it as a near-instant reward.
Every manufacturing executive wants to know, how will my investment support necessary innovation in the future? When we talk about the CRM as your foundation, we mean that in every sense possible. It’s where you build the rest of your operation and opens up a world of possibility by unlocking traditional sales and digital channels.
Let’s take a look at how exactly this works. When you unite data across marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT departments, you get a complete, shared view of your partner or customer (for example, enterprise resource planning and CRM data). This single source of truth is the secret sauce that helps deliver the experiences they expect. With your data in one place, intelligent analytics can provide sales and marketing leaders with white space analysis on customers and segments. For example, you can take advantage of predictive scenario planning to provide revenue and production forecasts so that finance, sales, and operations teams are better able to collaborate and plan more predictable outcomes. This means you can use information you already have (like company data and sales records) to uncover new opportunities, allowing you to both identify and take advantage of gaps to increase sales.
Once you have these tools in place, you’re on your way to transforming how you do business. You now have the ability to accelerate simple projects, garner new and valuable insights into your daily operations, and continue to innovate to connect with your partners and customers more efficiently and productively. Going forward, ensure there is both flexibility and scalability so that you can continue to deliver the experiences people expect.
You can also layer more features into your operation. For example, apps. Apps are simple to implement and provide high impact capabilities for both employees and customers alike. They might enable better tracking of sales performance management and/or contract lifecycle management. They can also help you create a feedback management system to better capture the voice of your customer. This allows you to take your customer feedback, combine it with the data in your CRM, and take customer insights to the next level.
Rather than a well-intentioned (but often clumsy) customer experience, you’ll now have the ability to easily locate cases and document new information into the customer file. This is transformational. It’s now easy to find previous conversations, pictures, and prior feedback from other customer service representatives. Literally any person can pick up where another left off, vastly improving the overall experience for both the customer and your employees.
The ongoing pandemic has upped the urgency to digitally transform. This is no longer something manufacturers have the luxury of leaving on the backburner. Even if it can seem overwhelming, this three-step process can put you on the path to digital transformation, as soon as today.
Ready to start your journey?
Eric Marotta is a director of product marketing at Salesforce Industries, driving global awareness to the transformative value Manufacturing Cloud and Energy & Utilities Cloud provide.