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  • Providing real-time responses 24/7 on any mobile device anywhere is the new normal in 2017.
  • 54% of B2B companies selling online report that their customers are using smartphones to research purchases, and 52% say that their customers are using smartphones to buy online
  • The majority of CEOs (86%) see mobility as essential to creating and sustaining a competitive advantage.
  • Industrial manufacturing CEOs prioritize mobility (73%), cybersecurity (72%) and data mining and analysis (70%) as their top three priorities for attaining competitive advantage.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWC) annually surveys global CEOs to learn about their current and future priorities, plans and technology adoption trends. PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey (free, no opt-in) is based on interviews with 1,322 CEOs located in 77 countries. The survey provides valuable insights into the strategic direction enterprises are taking with technology investments. The following graphic from the report illustrates the strategic importance CEOs are placing on mobile technologies:

 

Competing On Accuracy, Speed And Responsiveness Is How You Win Today

CEOs at the world’s leading industrial manufacturing companies share a common focus on how to continually improve the accuracy, speed, and responsiveness of their companies using mobile technologies. A recent study by research firm Forrester shows that 54% of B2B companies selling online report that their customers are using smartphones to research purchases, and 52% say that their customers are using smartphones to buy online.

Being ready to respond with complete quotes, pricing, order status, delivery dates, updated service information on a 24/7 basis on any device anywhere is the new normal. Amazon’s ability to take orders, process, ship and deliver them in some cases all within 24 hours is driving up expectations in B2B selling too.  And a key part of making sure you can compete in 2017 and beyond is by having an integrated mobile apps strategy that provides customers the information they need when they need it.

The following are five ways real-time mobile apps delight customers and streamline manufacturing:

  1. Enabling configure, price and quoting (CPQ) apps to provide real-time updates on any device, anywhere wins more deals and keeps customers sold on doing business with you. According to a recent Gartner study, the competitor in any deal who is the first to produce a quality quote will win the deal 70% of the time. Given the competitive intensity around delivering the first, highest quality quote possible, having mobile apps that are based on real-time Salesforce and SAP integration is a must-have. From the very first interaction with any new prospect to closing a sale, having mobile apps that deliver real-time information gained through CRM and ERP integration is key.
  1. Being able to answer “When will my order ship?” anytime, anywhere on any device, at any time is what it takes to win and keep customers today. It’s time to challenge the outdated assumption that customers only want to speak with you when your legacy systems are available. The best manufacturers are modeling Amazon today, providing real-time alerts on when orders are being prepared to ship, providing e-mail and text alerts and delivery times and shipping information. Mobile apps need to be used to extend past the boundaries of legacy systems that don’t meet the minimum expectations of customers today. The CEO of an electrical machine manufacturer told me that once he was able to launch mobile apps for his customers, there was a 76% reduction in order status calls to the enterprise sales teams and 13% increase in sales the first six months these apps were available.
  1. Getting in control of quality and being able to manage customer expectations and relationships to positive outcomes with accurate data. Quality, compliance, inbound inspection and quality assurance are applications that often are isolated from CRM, ERP and customer service systems. The lack of integration between these systems wastes valuable time in getting back to customers on how best to solve quality problems and address questions they may have. That’s why it’s so important to have compliance, product quality and quality assurance data delivered on mobile apps in a context the customer can use. Having this data available over mobile apps, enabled for customers’ use via Salesforce integration, reduces problem escalations and provides greater accuracy. Enabling quality data on mobile apps also helps to unify operations and production, giving everyone on the shop floor visibility into quality levels of order and long-term, over product lines being produced.
  1. Reducing Field Service call cancellations and delays by accurately communicating parts and staffing requirements shows respect for your customers. There is nothing more frustrating from a customer’s perspective than waiting for a field service technician to show up, only to find they don’t have the necessary parts or are told the problem was completely different than the one that needs to be solved. By enabling Salesforce integration with field service apps and providing customers with real-time alerts to their mobile devices via an app, field service calls can lead to solved problems and higher customer satisfaction faster.
  1. Providing customers with real-time updates via mobile apps on delivery dates driven by supply chain conditions helps in managing expectations while giving production planners the information they need to meet demand. Manufacturers whose business models rely on rapid inventory turns, tight production schedules and thin margins are the leading early adopters of mobile technologies for logistics and supply chain coordination. Enabling mobile apps to provide the latest updates on Available-To-Promise (ATP), Capable-To-Promise (CTP) requires SAP integration across the Salesforce platform. Being able to provide updates on how suppliers are potentially impacting their delivery dates on orders is invaluable in managing expectations over the long-term.

 

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Louis Columbus
Louis Columbus
I am a Forbes contributing columnist, industry analyst and blogger, and serve as Director, Global Cloud Product Management at Ingram Cloud. Previous positions include product marketing at iBASEt, Plex Systems, senior analyst at AMR Research (now Gartner), marketing and business development at Cincom Systems, Ingram Micro, a SaaS start-up and at hardware companies. I am also a member of the Enterprise Irregulars. My background includes marketing, product management, sales and industry analyst roles in the enterprise software and IT industries. My academic background includes an MBA from Pepperdine University and completion of the Strategic Marketing Management Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. I teach MBA courses in international business, global competitive strategies, international market research, and capstone courses in strategic planning and market research. I've taught at California State University, Fullerton: University of California, Irvine; Marymount University, and Webster University.

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