Manufacturers seldom realize how much data they and their customers are generating on a daily, possibly even hourly, basis and how much opportunity they are missing, as a result.
Those manufacturers who do know how much data they produce also know how to use it like fertilizer to enrich the soil and grow their sales.
A Data Goldmine
Industry 4.0, the digital revolution that is sweeping through the manufacturing sector like a tsunami, is really a story about data and transformation.
Once manufacturers understand that raw data is a goldmine, then they want more of it and companies on the vanguard of data usage are boosting efficiency, driving innovation and producing customizable products for an ever-more demanding and changing customer base.
How To Find That Goldmine
So, where does all this magical data come from?
It comes from every facet of a company’s operations: from sensors in computer-controlled machines on the factory floor that measure machine function and output; from sensors built into the products being made for their customers - sensors that tell service teams when and what to service in the field by detecting possible problems before they occur; from sales teams who are calling on existing customers and prospects, recording details of the calls directly into a Customer Relationship Management system visible to all; from the accounting department as it sends out quotes and invoices; from the marketing department as it prepares to launch a new email campaign, and so on.
There is no part of a manufacturing facility that isn’t generating data that can be analyzed and used to advantage.
Serving A Demanding Customer
What we also hear, along with data analysis, is how today’s customer is different. While there is no such thing as a homogenous “customer”, it is accurate to say that everyone’s customer is more demanding and more expectant.
This means that every department within an organization must be “singing from the same song sheet”, so to speak; in other words, speaking with one voice to the customer at all times and offering one ear with which to listen.
This is what is referred to as the 360 degree view of the customer where all departments see the same customer, no matter if it’s through the lens of accounting, supply chain, production or IT.
Let’s look at some other practical uses for data, apart from unified communication.
Optimized Sample Management
Manufacturers often need to supply customers, partners, and independent agents with samples of their products. Whether it is standard stock items or custom orders, customers expect manufacturers to capture and track all sample requests, provide samples expeditiously, and communicate parameters clearly.
Accurate Forecasting and Production Planning
The longstanding battle in Manufacturing has been between Sales and Production. Accurate sales forecasts lead to accurate production and vice versa. With real time, actionable data and insights, manufacturers can produce just the right amount of inventory to satisfy demand and minimize unsold inventory, waste, and shortages.
Accelerated Channel Management
It is possible to minimize channel conflict by enabling deal registration and making it easy for sales agents to effectively sell and represent their company with the right tools.
Manufacturers can leverage one centralized, customizable portal to easily share information like price books and product details with their partners.
All too often, quotes in the manufacturing community are kept on spreadsheets, sent in emails and even written on the back of napkins! Modernizing the quoting process means enabling version control, bundling, cross-sell and up-sell capabilities, and comprehensive and efficient approval routing.
Although some customers prefer the old fashioned way of engaging with manufacturers, many have grown accustomed to quick and convenient digital communication channels. Now, a manufacturer can enable customers to easily communicate electronically to open customer service cases or check in on the status and fulfillment of their orders.
All of these areas, when optimized, help to set a manufacturer apart.
AI And Predictive Analytics
It is entirely possible to accomplish this when data is gathered and analyzed using powerful software available today.
With built-in artificial intelligence (AI) like that found in Salesforce CRM, predictive analytics is at your fingertips. The power to analyze and predict outcomes is invaluable to sales teams, for example, who can concentrate their efforts on prospects or customers who are most likely to buy. This, in turn, sets up production runs to make the best use of raw materials and ultimately leads to cost savings.
Finding the right partner to help implement a Salesforce CRM is also critical. Gerent LLC is a leading provider of Salesforce solutions and was the first to be trained by Salesforce on the new Manufacturing Cloud platform.
If you’re considering a Salesforce CRM solution to power your manufacturing organization, then it would be worth your while to contact us first for a consultation.