Dreamforce is always the most exciting time of the year for me. Long hours, yes, but it’s also an amazing chance to meet with our manufacturing customers, partners and the entire Salesforce Ohana for four days in San Francisco. I always come away inspired and excited about how we are helping drive change across the entire manufacturing industry.

This year was no different. A few things stuck out to me during all of my conversations and presentations throughout the conference, with the main point being that the manufacturing industry must change. This is a necessity and not a choice. Why? We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a wave of innovation and technology that is radically transforming our economies, our societies and our daily lives. While the Fourth Industrial Revolution offers incredible progress and immense opportunities, there are also risks, such as potential job losses due to automation and widening existing inequality gaps in education, wealth and health.

 

How Does the Fourth Industrial Revolution Impact Manufacturing?

 

In manufacturing, this technological progress is forcing companies to adapt. AI is having a huge impact on how companies research, develop, manufacture and distribute products. It has implications for all parts of business operations, from sales and service teams all the way to the back office. All of this helps manufacturers get closer to their customers, and the future will belong to those who know their customers the best. But in order to ride this wave of innovation, manufacturers need to fundamentally change the ways they think about doing business.

These changes are not easy. For most of its history, our industry has been focused on getting product out the door in most efficient way possible. And once the sale was complete, the job was done. This way of doing business is no longer enough, as technological innovation in our daily lives has completely changed customer expectations.

Now, manufacturing companies need to differentiate not just on product, but also on customer experience. Customers today expect manufacturers to know everything about the relationship -- what they’ve bought, predicting when they need a replacement part, their personal preferences and more. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are either stuck in the wrong mindset or have siloed and outdated systems, making customer-centricity difficult or nearly impossible to manage.

And though change needs to take place, the companies that embrace these opportunities created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution are set up for future success. In my conversations with industry executives, it is clear that a customer-centric and intelligent business approach is required for this journey. Intelligent systems can help create a consistent, seamless customer experience, helping to eliminate the pains and silos for internal structures. It can help create insights that drive new outcomes and experiences across every interaction -- from lead to field sales interaction, product configuration, service engagement and more -- helping foster stronger relationships across the entire distribution network, better collaboration and additional value-added services. And our platform is the best positioned to help bring this intelligence to life for every manufacturer on the planet.

 

Is Your Company a Manufacturing Trailblazer?

 

Our customers are along for the ride with us. KONE is a great example of a Trailblazer that has accepted the challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. KONE is the world’s second largest elevator and escalator manufacturer -- used by over one billion people daily! -- and requires global coordination, managing both business and consumer experiences, and mobilizing service at lightning speed. The Salesforce platform is providing them with a complete, real-time view of their customers and business while being able to deliver best-in-class service.

Other industry Trailblazers, like Michelin and Emerson are also using technology to develop stronger relationships that allow them to stay connected with their customers after the sale, helping to increase satisfaction while saving money on wasted activities. Hear their stories from our Dreamforce keynote, which you can watch here:

There’s a lot for manufacturers to consider. But we know Dreamforce is where companies come to be inspired, and I believe we helped them accomplish that goal. So, after everything I saw this year I’m even more convinced that we are in the best position to help manufacturing companies adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I’m personally am excited to help empower people with new skills and technologies so they can help us drive this revolution and thrive in this new era.