What’s in store for 2018? Changes are ahead for the manufacturing industry, largely due to new technologies that are becoming more affordable, and provide significant strategic advantages.

Some of the trends we see manufacturing CFOs considering for 2018 include:

1. Moving to SaaS-based, integrated ERP/CRM solutions

Cloud-based ERP all-in-one systems like Dynamics 365 shift much of the IT department’s administrative work to the vendor. With the solution continually kept up-to-date and widely available from any device in any location, workers are freed up to focus on innovation and customer value-adding activities. Manufacturing CFOs and CIOs can then work together to balance risk and return as they identify new opportunities.

2. Merging structured and unstructured data, including Voice of the Operator

Manufacturing CFOs have long recognized that Excel spreadsheets, and even sophisticated business analytics tools, don’t always reveal the whole truth. Data gets hidden in emails, documents, side databases, and even in the knowledge of the plant floor operators. Data warehousing tools like DataCONNECT bring disparate source data into one central repository to create ‘one version of the truth.’

In addition, companies are finding innovative ways to incorporate the voice of the operator to provide context to the results seen on the plant floor and in the MRP / ERP systems.

3. Leveraging Predictive Analytics / Machine Learning

Business analytics is booming! The combination of inexpensive IoT devices, the availability of cloud-based data, and the advent of sophisticated business intelligence software has created the perfect storm for manufacturers to be better able to predict defective products, craft ideal preventative maintenance schedules, and improve sales forecasts. According to IDC, spending in this area should surpass $30 Billion by 2019.

4. Adding IoT – Internet of Things

According to Gartner, over 8.4 Billion “things” are on the internet today, and that number continues to grow. The IoT trend impacts manufacturers by improving the efficiency of plant operations, but also product innovation. As customers demand more IoT-things, it will be up to manufacturers to produce and support IoT devices.

5. Creating new revenue streams with Field Service

If you have to provide support to customers, you may as well make money doing it. Manufacturers are realizing that their service business today has too many revenue leaks, and isn’t profitable. BUT by adding field service software to manage and maintain service level agreements, warranties, and improve the efficiency of the service call, supporting your customers (or your customers’ customers) can increase profitability and customer satisfaction.

In addition, we see manufacturers putting greater focus on staying agile. Some manufacturers may approach agility by using rolling financial forecasts. Others are working toward improving their relationships with suppliers and reducing on-hand inventory.

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Author: Doug Bulla, VP Business Development

Adam Jenkins

Author Adam Jenkins

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