Manufacturers: Improve Your Customer’s Journey

As a CIO, you’ve been asked about digital transformation. No doubt about it, digital is front and center in business transformation – and the manufacturing industry is no exception, as digital enables manufacturers to look at means to grow their business, engage better with their customers and carves the path to becoming more agile and competitive.

Customer experience plays a key role for manufacturers and B2B transactions, but it presents a unique situation. I think many in manufacturing have held the misconception that digital only applies to the end-customer. But when we take a closer look, we see that’s not the case. Customers, suppliers, channel partners or retailers and your employees expect the digital experience. That's why it’s imperative to address the needs of all customers – customers who live in a digital world all the time. 

Why manufacturers need journey mapping

Manufacturers are Embracing Digital Across the Enterprise

From accurate, resilient supply chains to enhancements in product design and production, digital tools have already become critical differentiators, and companies are leveraging digital to seamlessly integrate their customers, suppliers and employees.

One specific example: some manufacturers are embedding “Internet of Things” (IOT) technologies like sensors or Machine to Machine (M2M) in their products or on the shop floor for quality management, real time performance monitoring or predictive maintenance. Companies, including General Electric, are looking at information liquidity to generate new revenue streams. GE is leading the development of a new breed of operational technology (OT) that literally sits on top of industrial machinery. Long known as the technology that controls and monitors machines, OT now goes beyond these functions by connecting machines via the cloud and using data analytics to help predict breakdowns and assess a machine’s overall health.

Through digital transformation, manufacturers are better collaborating with the key suppliers that design parts and systems for them and gain better insight into their supply chain. Companies are equipping their sales teams with mobile devices used for quickly configuring their products with lead times to deliver, or using visual tools to simply present a brochure to their customers. By adopting Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud, manufacturers can streamline inventory and reduce service costs with channel partners. And as for end customers, digital allows better personal data security and stronger loyalty through social media.

In this digital world, employee productivity is even more important than before. Consumerization is a growing trend in manufacturing companies. Employees want to use the same tools and technologies that they use it at home. Employees buy their own devices, use their own personal online service accounts, install their own applications and then connect to the corporate network. And they expect their employers to provide process and tools to integrate with their personal devices to seamless connect with corporate network without compromising on security and compliance.

Digital solutions like analytics, mobility, social networks, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are shaking up the old ways of doing business and allowing you simplify and transform. Those disruptive technologies will lead to better relationships between manufacturers, and channel partners – and ultimately, the end consumer. 

Making Your Business Case

For manufacturers, adopting digital has not been an easy road. We know that IT budgets are limited. In fact, growth in overall IT spending is only 4.1 percent in the manufacturing sector. That means you have limited funds to apply to ongoing needs, which makes new and innovative investments a challenge.  To clear that hurdle, making the business case is crucial. And that business case starts with understanding your customers’ journey.

Too often, it’s people (rather than processes) that roadblock digital. You need to be an advocate and a digital champion – and for CIOs, a customer journey map helps you get the buy-in from those outside of IT, as it demonstrates how IT is a true business partner.  Gaining an understanding of everyone you call “customer” will improve their experiences, boosting productivity and your bottom line.

You can see how customer journey mapping plays a role in better understanding your customer’s journey by downloading this report. I’m certain that as a manufacturer, you’ll find valuable insight inside. You can also read about Dell Manufacturing Solutions and Digital Business Services. Follow us @DellDigitalBiz.

About the Author: Prasoon Saxena