By Curtis Williams

How manufacturing businesses can close the tech gap

A man wearing hard hat smiling

A key element of Industry 4.0 is about bringing data closer to your value chain and your customers. But doing that with legacy technology systems can be a challenge. 

Across the vast majority of industries throughout Australia, if not the world, there is an increasing emphasis on having a 360-degree, whole-of-customer, view. 

Unfamiliar with the term? The notion of a 360-degree customer view – that is, an aggregation of data across all customer touchpoints from the first contact to after-sales service and support – is something that is in line with Industry 4.0, and can help manufacturing businesses to get closer to their value chain and their customers – and ultimately deliver a more profitable and effective business model. 

Both brands and customers themselves are driving this desire for a 360-degree customer experience. For brands, the benefits are obvious – the more they know about a customer, the more relevant they can be with products, promotions and helping customers solve their problems. 

For customers – which also includes your supply partners and dealer networks as well as purchasers – it’s a reflection of changing expectations in a world in which technology is increasingly consumed as part of our day-to-day. 

This technology-driven change is increasingly important for businesses to compete – however, for many businesses, their technology is a roadblock, rather than an enabler. 

Many companies have a patchwork of bespoke applications (sound familiar?) that have been installed over many years to connect information – and this can be problematic, onerous and in some cases impossible to flow data between different applications, let alone extract the interpretations needed.

Simplifying the tech stack

One of the most important aspects of digital transformation is having a lean technology stack, which enables you to innovate while not having the burden of so many systems you risk becoming an IT company!

Today, businesses need a solution that doesn’t require coding, that doesn’t rely on programming – a solution that operates on clicks and drags – something a business analyst can update as readily as an IT practitioner. 

A frequent conversation that we have with manufacturing businesses is that Salesforce is a lot more than a CRM – it’s actually a whole-of-business engagement platform that’s capable of bringing all of this data together to create valuable and actionable insights. 

By having a flexible, reasonable and simple system that gives you the ability to focus on and evolve your processes, you can achieve that flexibility and agility while leaving your ERP system to the middle back-office operations. 

Opening up new business models 

Salesforce is a single platform that has many aspects to it that a business can choose from depending on how they operate. 

One of the biggest things for manufacturing businesses is that Salesforce can help you optimise your business models – and open up new business models, too. 

Having the right technology can help manufacturers get to new segments or new geographies by going straight to consumers in areas that have no conflict with channel partners, or areas in which you can monetise your data. 

With the embedded video, IoT and AR capabilities on the platform, manufacturing businesses can predict and engage with consumers who they didn’t know before, by virtue of the fact they purchase from a retailer rather than direct. 

By using that capability, you can give the end customer an extended warranty, for example. From there you can learn who your customers are, segment them and drive a relationship that can increase that share of wallet. 

You can even give them discounts to return to the retailer, so it helps your business partners too.

In short, the platform enables you to try and test different ideas, different business models and that capability extends across the whole of the business. 

Getting started with Salesforce

Salesforce manufacturing CRM solutions are ushering in and advancing a new industrial revolution — one driven by innovative new means of connectivity. 

With manufacturers turning ideas into realities on a massive scale, the expectations of companies and consumers are at an all time high. That’s why more and more of them are relying on Salesforce CRM optimised for manufacturing management. It’s the new, connected age of manufacturing.

For businesses wanting to establish or develop Salesforce within their manufacturing business, the most important aspect is to have an understanding of where you want to get there – this is something Simplus can help you with – and from there it’s a partnership. The platform grows with you and has all of the capabilities to get you where you want to get to. 

By having a whole-of-customer model, you also establish a whole-of-business model – which enables efficiencies and transparency across the organisation. This can also improve sales and order effectiveness because you have a clearer and fuller view of the customer, as well as the overall customer experience. 

Don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the water – Salesforce will scale as you scale. It’s an evolutionary product, an established product, and one that grows at your pace. 

For more information on Salesforce and its capabilities for manufacturers, watch our on-demand webinar: 
More than a CRM: How Salesforce drives agility, relevance and profitability for manufacturers.

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