The big picture: For manufacturing and distribution companies, digital transformation and cloud adoption are essential to growth.
Why it matters: A driving force behind this digital shift could be in a manufacturing company’s tool kit: Salesforce. If a manufacturing and distribution organization has a CRM solution, it is likely Salesforce.
- These organizations can leverage Salesforce to kick-start stalled transformation initiatives or harmonize disparate sales, customer service, marketing and analytics systems.
Yes, but: Many manufacturers fail to reap the full benefits from their Salesforce tools or other digital assets. Syncing the solutions with other technologies to exploit their potential can be a daunting task and require resources and expertise that are not available.
The bottom line: Manufacturers have the opportunity to increase productivity, improve internal collaboration and advanced reporting capabilities, and accelerate digital transformations by optimizing their Salesforce assets. Those that partner with the right experts can achieve a higher level of business operations and establish a solid foundation for growth.
Go deeper: Read our insights below.
In Protiviti’s latest Top Risks Survey, produced annually in partnership with NC State University’s ERM Initiative, manufacturing and distribution organizations unsurprisingly ranked workforce uncertainty among the most worrisome issues for 2023. A related concern is whether these organizations will be able to find the talent or upskill/reskill their people to operate in a digital world. Looking out to 2032, respondents ranked similar technology transformation and talent matters even higher – among two of the top three risks.
These results are the latest indication that a growing number of manufacturing and distribution companies have accepted that digital transformation and cloud adoption are essential to future business growth. It’s a mindset that is reversing the widely held perception that the sector has been a laggard in adopting new technologies. After years of seeing little reason to change traditional processes and systems, these organizations are now embracing digitalization, typically in conjunction with third-party expertise to help bridge gaps in technical knowledge and labor skills.
The promising role of Salesforce
One of the driving forces behind this digital shift could already be in a manufacturing company’s tool kit: Salesforce. The software company is most widely recognized for the launch of its pioneering customer relationship management (CRM) solution 23 years ago. And to date, Salesforce has effectively penetrated the manufacturing and distribution sector: If a manufacturing and distribution organization has a CRM solution, it is likely Salesforce.
Over two decades, Salesforce’s catalog of cloud-based products has expanded to include marketing software, application development, field service management systems and the Slack messaging platform, among other solutions. Manufacturing organizations may be able to leverage these products to kick-start stalled transformation initiatives or harmonize disparate sales, customer service, marketing and analytics systems.
For instance, manufacturing and distribution firms can benefit from leveraging an expanded suite of Salesforce solutions to:
- Manage field service teams, relationships and interactions.
- Track sales leads and opportunities or marketing and campaign events.
- Add or enhance web portals.
- Digitize workflows to improve visibility and ease of tasks and effort.
- Enhance communication.
- Automate data and information with machine learning or artificial intelligence so that users can be more proactive.
Overcoming common roadblocks
It is a safe bet that many manufacturers and distributors are failing to reap the full benefits from their Salesforce tools or other digital assets – and most are unaware of it. Plus, while some manufacturing and distribution organizations need to share Salesforce data with existing systems, syncing the solutions with other technologies to exploit their potential can be a daunting task and require resources and expertise that are not available inside the enterprise.
These challenges, in particular, tend to fall on smaller manufacturing and distribution organizations in less populated or remote locations. They typically lack the staffing levels of larger corporations as well as the availability of local tech talent to take on such projects adequately. We also see these challenges in manufacturing and distribution companies that have inherited various enterprise resource planning solutions as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Those incongruent systems frequently prevent organizations from unlocking and consolidating data in a way that would provide a single view into what are often numerous operations.
Propelling transformation forward
Manufacturers in the midst of a digital transformation, or launching one, have the opportunity to increase productivity and improve internal collaboration and advanced reporting capabilities by leveraging their existing Salesforce assets. The same is true for companies considering adding Salesforce solutions to improve the capabilities of their current mix of manual processes and various technologies.
Call to action – prepare to optimize
Manufacturing and distribution organizations see their challenge to find and train labor for an increasingly digitized sector as a major concern. Yet they also recognize that to remain competitive, they must prioritize digital transformation, whether that’s in the form of optimizing existing solutions – likely through their current use of Salesforce – or adding new technologies to leverage more business efficiency and productivity. While pursuing such projects can be a complex and difficult endeavor, those firms that partner with the right experts can capitalize on their Salesforce tools to achieve a higher level of business operations and establish a solid foundation for growth.