The Online Industrial Experience Is Gravitating Toward A Single Screen

CEOs are trying to squeeze out opportunities with smaller budgets, despite ongoing supply chain snags and amid questions on rates and inflation. They are undertaking major overhauls of their sales and marketing strategies as what seem to be the last vestiges of physical commerce migrate online.

Now many companies are discovering that, while they have prioritized the reinvention of customer-facing products like websites and webinars, they don’t necessarily have the foundations that allow them to capitalize on the new tools they’ve created.

On one hand, they’ve embarked on digital restarts in order to keep pace with the competition. On the other, they now fear a digital nightmare as the web-portal façade of their business shows signs of strain as they rush to deliver at the new pace of sales that their digital strategy has delivered.

Executives who might feel as if they are frauds because they’re in this predicament aren’t alone. Many CEOs are realizing they’ve been underinvesting in the core operational processes and technologies necessary to efficiently and effectively turn around quotes and deliver products in an increasingly dynamic world even as they’ve kept pace with Industry 4.0 and similar developments in their plants. They need tools to marry their front-end and back-end capabilities, in other words.

The solution lies in unified e-commerce platforms, or one-stop-shop applications that can be customized to specific businesses to manage B2B and B2C transactions, sales orders, marketplaces, and vendors in a manner that integrates with enterprise resource planning, from supply chain oversight to human resources.

Questions, questions, questions…

The following questions can help CEOs to understand how to become heroes in this era digital transformation.

Do your supply chains operate with resiliency and flexibility? Do they meet customer needs and at the same time cope with constant, fast-changing market conditions?

Having easy-to-use order management, e-commerce, organized data streams, and constant access enables visibility, efficiency, flexibility and the power to anticipate product lifecycles, delivery speeds and market demand for personalization and customization. The goal is not necessarily to know more about supply chains. It’s about knowing how to manage supply chains in order to deliver products consistently. Much of that information is already within a company’s daily business flows. But many companies lack e-commerce solutions that help them unlock the insights that would help them overcome supply chain challenges.

Do you have cloud-based enterprise commerce systems and processes? Can you deliver data visibility and integrity across core operations?

Enterprise commerce sits at the heart of the business. It needs to be customized to the way your company works. In manufacturing, SymphonyAI has pointed out it’s not enough to have automation. It has to be tuned to the culture and capacity of your business to incorporate automation into workflows. Otherwise, your business will pay a price with employee burnout. The same goes for order management and commerce. Can you enable leading edge decision-making to unlock realistic innovation and drive growth?

Are you leveraging a complete technology approach effectively to unlock performance efficiencies and ownership mindsets in your talent?

The U.S. rate of employee churn across industries is 22 percent. CEOs understand this problem well. Replacing a frontline employee can cost sixteen percent of what would be paid in wages if they stayed. Finding more senior level professionals can cost six to nine months of their salary.

Communications is perhaps the best way to retain talent. Forrester found in the early days of the pandemic, for example, only about 43 percent of employees believed their organization had a plan for what was happening. Getting that right made it easier for executives to focus on customers and other stakeholders. Finally, installing a business continuity plan for the duration based on strong employee communications and performance loops delivers value.

Finally, can your business support your customers’ drive to take control of configuring and pricing complex products and services and get the self-help and support they want digitally?

If you want to optimize revenue, you will need to offer up and refine a low friction buyer and customer experience. Get this right, and you will also gain normalized useful data you can invest downstream in business and financial functions, in addition to learning about your customers and monetizing what you see. Mark Nathan at Zipari has been a pioneer in this area for the health insurance many manufacturers look to for their teams.

Unified commerce

These core operational processes define intelligent, integrated and agile cloud-savvy businesses.

Direct digital transformation investments are expected to total $6.8 trillion globally between 2020 and 2023. That’s a compound annual growth rate of almost 16 percent, according to IDC. What’s called the digital transformation services market is forecasted to reach $186 billion by 2024.

Moving computing power off company-owned machines and onto more nimble cloud-based services is the evolution that every industry is undergoing at present. Gartner predicts that global spending on cloud services will approach $400 billion next year. That’s almost a 50 percent increase compared to last year.

And yet spending money does not equate becoming a new hero of the digital restart. It takes more than cash to overcome the struggle with legacy technological debt. Beyond technology, the emerging digital manufacturing leaders are also looking at the organizational, process and cultural foundations of their businesses. Asking these questions starts companies on the right path.

What’s next?

The result is avoiding lost sales opportunities, distribution shortfalls, inconsistent financial management, sub-optimal resource planning and high employee turnover.

Making all this happen, frankly, will take more than the services of most consultancies today. Staffing agencies masquerading as true business partners won’t cut it. And few digital transformation prophets are purpose-built to innovate the next generation of digital operating platforms for the next generation of commercial pioneers.

But the market has a way of pulling forward what it needs to move to the next level. CEOs can and will rise to the challenge of satisfying record high demand while simultaneously harnessing the technology of the future.