Over the past 18 months, Acumen Solutions, a Salesforce Global Strategic Partner, served as a design and launch partner for Salesforce’s latest industry solution - Manufacturing Cloud.  We caught up with Andy Schoka, Managing Director, Manufacturing & Automotive to hear directly about their thoughts on the future of manufacturing, and the benefits they expect customers to realise over the coming months and years with Manufacturing Cloud. 


1. What is driving changes in the manufacturing industry?

There are a myriad of issues that manufacturers are currently facing within the industry. Some of these include: Globalisation of supply chains; Rapid and disruptive technology advancements (additive manufacturing, nano-tech, advanced polymers and compounds, more efficient production methods, sustainability, etc.); Rising commercial buying behaviors (B2B) being shaped by consumer experiences (B2C); and the rise of Mass-personalisation.

Many or our customers come to us because they are in need of guidance in solving their complex business challenges and want to advance the ball in their digital transformation journey. We try to help them by identifying solutions that will solve these issues and increase efficiencies.


2. How are manufacturers thinking about the future?

Today’s manufacturers are constantly working to innovate in order to stay ahead of the competition and increase their market share. They are looking for solutions that help them to achieve predictability and automation in their day to day activities.

In addition, they now require greater agility so that they can keep up with the constantly shifting landscape (production, operations, product development, etc.). They know that they need to continue to evolve in order to engage young workers, as the interest in manufacturing as a career has declined over the past several decades.

We are seeing many of our manufacturing customers working to leverage new agile technology platforms, as well as focus on their digital strategies. This enables manufacturers to help drive better efficiency leading to increased revenue, better product quality, and a more engaged workforce.


3. What was your involvement during the design of Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud?

Acumen Solutions has been engaged with the Salesforce Manufacturing team since the concept of Manufacturing Cloud came to life. Several years ago, we built a Salesforce solution for Integrated Sales Forecasting to help our manufacturing customers better contain demand volatility, enable supply chain visibility, and resolve supply chain complexities. When the idea to design this functionality into the Manufacturing Cloud product came up, we were thrilled, as we know this is a challenge that our customers are dealing with every single day.

We were able to share our Integrated Sales Forecasting solution architecture and data/object models as a starting point for the build of the Sales Agreement functionality.

Throughout the process, we collaborated with the product team to provide regular feedback and input into the design process. This included helping to identify and define the market need, target audience, customer pain points, as well as the stakeholders that would be impacted.

As the months went by, we participated in numerous global launch events and enablement sessions, and engaged our customers directly in the design conversation, encouraged their participation in the Manufacturing Cloud Pilot, and facilitated their inclusion in the Manufacturing Industry Advisory Board. Now that Manufacturing Cloud has been rolled out, we continue to be involved in shaping the future roadmap for the product.


4. How do you think Manufacturing Cloud can tackle your customers’ challenges?

Manufacturing Cloud is going to provide our customers the demand predictability that they want and need to have to be successful.

It will surface the insights from their enterprise data in order to drive them towards predictable results.

Additionally, it will break down the siloed environments that most manufacturers operate under, while being able to provide a true Customer 360 specific to the manufacturing industry.

Manufacturing Cloud will allow for tracking and managing Sales Agreements along with the ability to forecast customer revenue and volume. It will also analyse customer, product, territory and channel performance to help integrate and provide visibility into operations. It provides all the necessary data and analytics in one system for a manufacturer to make critical decisions that can impact their bottom line.

Overall, we are thrilled that Manufacturing Cloud will provide the foundation to support industry-specific processes and data structures that our customers need to continue to achieve success.


5. Can you share how your test customers are using Manufacturing Cloud and what benefits are they seeing? 

The early commentary and feedback has been very positive, and given what we know about the challenges they are facing, we are expecting to see tremendous results over time.

One aspect that our customers are looking forward to is being able to see the tangible improvements in their forecasting accuracy and efficiency. If customers buy in to the product roadmap (as we do!), there will be a great deal of very focused and specialised functionality in the upcoming and future releases. We know that Sales Agreements and Forecasting are just the tip of the iceberg and we’re excited to be on this journey with our customers.


6. Are there benefits of Manufacturing Cloud outside of manufacturing proecesses too? Such as sales and marketing? 

The principle benefits of this first version of Manufacturing Cloud will be focused on Sales Agreements, integrated forecasting, integration and some initial analytics/visualisations. This will be of greatest benefit to the S&OP teams in terms of leveraging more accurate production plans, reducing excess inventory, and more closely aligning production with committed sales contracts from their customers. They will also see a reduction in (time and efficiency) cumbersome/manual (spreadsheets) and disjointed sales forecasting that often takes weeks or more and still results in inaccurate aggregated projections.


7. How easy is it to integrate with legacy systems?

Manufacturing Cloud utilises pre-built Mulesoft templates for SAP to help unlock and unify a complex back office in order to easily integrate order and account information. It also allows for the surfacing of real-time inventory, sales data through various sales channels and automate robust workflows with ERP data. Since Manufacturing Cloud is built on the native Sales Cloud platform, it contains the same robust open APIs that all Salesforce clouds have to allow for easy 3rd party integration.

Manufacturing Cloud also allows organisations to simplify the conversations around Master Data Management due to the ability to easily integrate with other platforms via Mulesoft or open APIs. Customers need the ability to quickly integrate data from various source systems. The Manufacturing Cloud architecture, along with Mulesoft Anypoint platform, allows for manufacturing customers to quickly bring in 3rd party data to take full advantage of the Salesforce Platform.


Find out more about Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud in this demo video.