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Business 4.0 – how technology is changing the business of manufacturing


written by Natalie Davies

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Industry 4.0 technologies are transforming the manufacturing industry. ‘Smart factories’ using automation, Internet of Things (IoT) technology and cloud computing are becoming the new norm. But what impact is Industry 4.0 having on the business side of manufacturing? What does ‘Business 4.0’ really look like?

Will new technology make sales, marketing, customer service, and other critical teams obsolete? The answer to this question is way more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Business 4.0 will certainly make these departments function differently than they did in the past. But this doesn’t mean your human personnel will no longer be needed. In fact, they will be more important and powerful than ever before – aided in their own distinct way by technology.

Customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and business intelligence (BI) tools can drive profits and productivity, helping manufacturers and distributors to stay competitive, and – when harnessed correctly – to get ahead of their rivals in the market.

If you’re a company operating in the manufacturing and distribution industry, the following are three Business 4.0 trends you really need to know about.

Next-level relationship building

Industry 4.0 technologies help manufacturers monitor production processes and make decisions more effectively. In a similar way, Business 4.0 technologies can help sales, marketing and customer service teams to take their customer interactions up a notch.

Our study showed that 40% of salespeople still make decisions based on relationships they have with their existing customers. This is dangerous – instinct and rapport are not substitutes for verifiable information.

Thankfully, the days of schmoozing a potential customer and then hoping for the best are behind us.

With the help of data analytics tools, sales teams can easily identify buying patterns and trends and target the right sales pitches directly at the most relevant customers. For example, if a customer consistently reorders at a certain time, you’ll be made aware of this and be able to follow up immediately if they skip an order.

Or, if there is a drop in spending from a particular customer, you’ll be notified, giving you the opportunity to investigate why this happened and do something to fix it – before you lose the account altogether. With the help of data, you can better understand your customers and their needs.

Increased automation

Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of burdensome administration tasks you have to carry out on a daily basis? You’re not alone. Our study showed, for example, that 17% of sales professionals struggle with manual data entry, 10% find completing outdated spreadsheets for reporting to be a hassle, and 6% are wasting time preparing for meetings.

This means that they’re wasting time they could be using to fulfil their core responsibility: building and nurturing customer relationships.

Luckily, Business 4.0 has a solution – automation. Activities like data entry, reporting, and meeting preparation can now be performed by task bots in your software system, freeing up your time to do the things that really matter.

Better still, the capabilities of task bots are only increasing and even more tasks will become automated over the next few years, freeing up even more of your time for strategic work.

The cloud and mobile revolutions

The business side of manufacturing and distribution is no stranger to the benefits of mobile and cloud computing, but judging by recent developments, the best is yet to come.

Cloud tools are typically much more reliable than on-premise systems. In fact, the best cloud applications experience less than 1% of downtime each year – and they are cost effective.

Meanwhile, off-site Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions also come in affordable packages and are more convenient than buying software outright because – in most cases – the solution provider will provide set-up, installation, or ongoing maintenance on behalf of the user.

Improving mobile accessibility is another way in which technology can be game-changing for your company. Our research has shown that 11% of professionals find it difficult to get access to information when they’re not in the office, while 34% struggle to access timely information when selling. With the right technology, these problems can easily be overcome.

With sales analytics software, you can make a customer’s entire buying history available in an instant on your mobile device, while you’re in the taxi or walking to a meeting. What’s more, if an issue requires immediate attention, you’ll be notified immediately, and not only hours later when you’re back in the office.

By embracing these new technologies, salespeople, marketers and customer service professionals can become more responsive and, in turn, more competitive. The benefits of are plentiful – improved agility, responsiveness, and efficiency. All of these will naturally translate into more profit.

If you’d like to find out more about what modern sales technology can do for your business, get in touch!

Written By -

I’m another marketing bod here at sales-i (that is marketing exec come social secretary, branded wardrobe, stationary cupboard, fixer of the printer and chief maker of a terrible cup of tea). I get to work with the two delights that are Chris and Steve who have taken it upon themselves to educate me on all things football and Star Wars. I’m a Villa or Birmingham City fan depending on which of them you ask. I really rather enjoy reading and writing (I’m not that great at the maths thing, as Chris will tell you). What I lack in Star Wars and football knowledge, I make up for with a keen eye for a good wine and a great impression of a Wookie.

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