Bridging the Gap Between Digital Manufacturing and Digital Transformation

The future of the manufacturing industry is bright. Industry 4.0 marks an era in which the majority of industrial manufacturers are building upon their existing infrastructure to become “digitally advanced” by 2020, spending over $900 billion on greater connectivity and smarter factories.

However, despite these advances, there are still a number of challenges manufacturers need to overcome before they can adopt this status. Shifting workforce demographics have prompted executive teams to rethink how to train and onboard new associates; a proliferation of new product releases has generated a mountain of additional work for various operations teams; the Amazon effect has driven customer expectations through the roof; and tightening industry regulations have put traditional production processes into question.

And of course, amid – and perhaps because of – these developments, there are also mounting frustrations between two departments who feel the knock-on pressures further downstream: Sales and Marketing. In order to keep apace with accelerating product development cycles, sales and marketing teams need to work collaboratively in terms of collating and accessing content. So why, in this era of industrial digitalization, are these teams finding their efforts misaligned?

The Misalignment of Sales and Marketing

Firstly, increasing product updates mean that even the most efficient sales operatives find they are wasting significant chunks of their day trying to access the right files in order to present their customers with the latest, most relevant messaging. They also need to engage in quick and efficient back-and-forth discussions with their marketing counterparts on projects such as updating product specifications, or developing sales presentations, but this can prove impossible without the right systems in place.

Meanwhile, marketing execs are often disheartened by the lack of feedback from the sales team on which content is engaging (or discouraging) customers, and what changes need to be made to improve the overall brand messaging. This channel of communication between teams needs to be established from the outset of the sales journey, so that any messaging can be consistently personalized throughout.

Manufacturers who want to keep ahead of the competition have to be able to collaboratively customize their content – at scale – but many are finding their internal teams simply don’t have the tools in place to facilitate this way of working together.

Bridging the gap between digital manufacturing and complete digitalization

The arrival of Industry 4.0 has brought about a whole host of digital advances in the manufacturing industry specifically. But there is an important distinction between these processes, and the digitalization of sales and marketing systems which are responsible for getting the product from the factory into the hands of the customer.

For example, innovations in manufacturing processes include 3D printing, mechatronics, advanced robotics and smart (or connected) machines. Meanwhile, sales and marketing teams are often working with multiple legacy tools, such as CRM and marketing automation platforms, with no way of joining up these siloed systems. 

Recognizing the disparity between manufacturing technology and content management technology is half the battle, but how can manufacturers go about completing their journey towards digital transformation?

Silo busting with sales enablement

One of the most effective ways to unite sales and marketing teams is to integrate a sales enablement solution, which taps into existing tools to provide a single source of truth, allowing everyone to access and update collateral as and when they need to. It also eliminates the content creep that occurs when years of conflicting and mismatching information is stored in different places.

With sales enablement, the sales team automatically receives approved collateral and information relevant to the specific status of their sales motions without having to manually search for them; and the marketing team gains insights into seller and buyer engagement with content; which interactions are making an impact on prospects; and which campaigns should be optimized.

By combining this with advanced automation tools, visions of personalizing customer content – both in real time and at scale – is now becoming a reality for Sales and Marketing. Augmenting CRM and marketing automation with sales enablement technology allows teams to carry out in-depth analytics across a range of areas to justify their marketing budgets and provide more accurate reports to their executive teams, empowering them to have more of an influence on future strategies.

Data governance and permissioning is also possible through sales enablement technology, meaning teams can now control which segments of their audience see which content, reaching the stakeholders they need to while remaining data compliant.

2020 may be an ambitious target for complete digital transformation, but by adopting a robust sales enablement strategy, manufacturers have every chance of succeeding.

If you’d like to find out more about how your teams could benefit from sales enablement technology, download our free whitepaper: From connected machines to connected content: the missing link in digital manufacturing.