Today's Customer: It's All About the Data

Manufacturers Must Embrace the Power of the Customer and Adapt Quickly. A Fully Integrated, Data-Driven Platform is the Way Forward

In the era of Industry 4.0, manufacturers must accept that they can no longer assume that a customer will wait patiently to take delivery of a product; the customer is demanding that product from the manufacturer  — and on the customer’s terms.

Re-defining Goals

This sea change in the role of the customer —from a passive one to an active one — is driving manufacturing down roads paved with data generated from smart machines and reinforced by a full 360-degree view of the customer.

New international standards for manufacturers, such as ISO 9000-2000 and beyond, are driving a customer focus and achieving customer satisfaction through improved manufacturing processes.

In effect, Industry 4.0 is redefining the goal of manufacturers. They must now be fully focused on customer success, to drive business growth and sales.

So, this has led many companies to adopt Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that work in harmony with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

The two technology platforms tie together all the areas of a manufacturing business, from backroom operations to those on the factory floor.

Forward-thinking manufacturers are looking for alternative ways to create and capture value. They are being forced to rethink old notions of where value comes from…

— The Future of Manufacturing, Deloitte Insights

Integration in Action

Smart manufacturers understand that this holistic method is the only way to ensure the customer is successful, and, by extension, the manufacturer, as well.

Let’s use two examples to demonstrate how this might work.

A sales team follows up on a warm lead generated by the marketing department. Marketing’s data analytics are shared with Sales to create a cohesive strategy, based on extensive data analysis of the lead’s company and business sector.

The salesperson provides a real-time quote for the potential customer, using a smartphone app that connects with the CPQ. The customer accepts and the salesperson now enters the order details which flow directly to the factory floor. At the same time, every other area of the manufacturer is provided with the same data.

The second example involves an existing customer who needs to change and customize their order.

Sales reports from the field, via a mobile app, that the customer is changing their order substantially; they want new colors, different sizing, and more (or less) product than before.Once again, the information flows through the entire manufacturing operation in real time.

Marketing picks up the data and begins to tweak their plans for that customer for the future.

Operations is on notice that a wholesale change in the production process for that customer needs to begin immediately.

What these simplified examples demonstrate is how a CRM works together with ERP technology to meet any changes in a customer’s needs, without missing a beat.

The seamless integration of all operations in the company is critical to maintaining a satisfied customer.

All Data, All the Time

The use of real time data, analyzed immediately and generating decisions from the front offices to the factory floor, is how a sales order is executed without delay and without error – and, most importantly, without upsetting other manufacturing operations.

While these are obvious advantages of a fully integrated manufacturer, there are others that go directly to reduction of waste and inventory control, as well as cost control.

Smart Means Cost Savings

A smart manufacturing enterprise doesn’t need to manufacture to stock, in order to keep a sizeable amount of inventory on hand; it can create product on demand much more easily. This means that warehousing and expensing large amounts of raw materials indefinitely is no longer so important.

Lead times – from production to warehouse and warehouse to customer – are reduced; on-time delivery is improved and, ultimately, customer satisfaction grows.

All these positives flow from a fully integrated CRM and ERP.

Businesses are realizing that customers are becoming more difficult to attract, influence, and retain.

— Salesforce.com

The Gerent Advantage

However, the key to such integration involves consulting with a technology expert that can make it all happen. In fact, such a partner should be able to link a state of the art CRM to an existing ERP,  saving the client from having to write off a legacy software investment and increase capex to purchase another.

Gerent LLC, a senior Salesforce partner specializing in manufacturing, has over 800 successful projects to date.

Gerent designs and implements custom solutions that bring modern Salesforce CRMs and legacy ERP platforms together, digitally transforming the client and providing them with the power and capabilities of a fully integrated manufacturing operation.

Contact us for more information on how we can help your company with the requirements of digital transformation and drive sales, as a result.