As recently as a few years ago, manufacturers viewed optimizing productivity and increasing customer satisfaction in isolation. However, digital disruption is fundamentally changing the way manufacturers do business, requiring them to use modern technology to drive transformational change across the organization: enhancing manufacturing efficiency, improving quality of products, optimizing inventory, accelerating time-to-market, and meeting the fluctuating needs of customers.
The Challenges Manufacturers Face Today
Improving visibility while increasing efficiency and lowering costs are key concerns for manufacturers. In the absence of the right data at fingertips, it becomes difficult to enable greater productivity and profitability to meet strict delivery schedules and deadlines. The presence of siloed departments and isolated legacy systems further adds to the woes, as manufacturers don’t have the visibility, they need across functions such as finance, sales, customer service, and supply chain operations. Here are the top challenges that manufacturers face today:
1. Visibility into Operations
Visibility into the entire manufacturing process is what drives business excellence. But manufacturers often struggle to collect, integrate, and visualize global supply chain data worldwide, and have poor or no visibility into end-to-end operations. Without easy and timely access to supply chain data, there is no way manufacturers can improve communication between production, supply, service, and sales. Poor collaboration across departments and poor integration between different business systems means poor insight into company-wide production metrics.
2. Empowering Employees
As the global workforce gets increasingly demanding with respect to the experiences they enjoy at their workplace, empowering employees is one of the first steps in building a great manufacturing organization. Yet, in a complex manufacturing setup, where every function works in complete isolation using department-specific tools and systems, providing the workforce with the right tools and right data greatly impacts productivity and efficiency of everyday tasks. With no access to role-specific tools or a 360-degree visibility of business, employees find it difficult to keep up with the pace of manufacturing while always relying on error-prone, time-consuming manual tasks to carry out day-to-day activities.
3. Improving Productivity
Productivity is not just about doing more; it’s about creating value in whatever you do. Manufacturing productivity comes from having a consolidated view of operations and access to mobile and virtual reality tools to monitor and resolve issues remotely. But if the workforce cannot intelligently coordinate tasks between different functions, productivity enhancements cannot be achieved. The lack of intelligent tools means employees have no way to prioritize workloads, generate customized reports, or view relevant information – leading to poor efficiency and costly engagements.
4. Managing Field Service
In an industry where technicians spend a majority of time on the field, using policies and workflows that are configured towards specific business needs helps in supplying the right product at the right time to the right field service agent. But in the absence of modern field service capabilities, field agents find it difficult to standardize workflows, cater to customers, and get timely approvals. Agents also struggle to manage resource assignments across multiple work orders and organizations fail to assign the right field service agent with the right job skills to the right location at the right time – impacting issue resolution. Lack of real-time updates and personalized interactions further impact visibility and an accurate view of the buying cycle to ensure procurement always stays within indicated quantity and price levels.
5. Personalizing Customer Service
For any manufacturing business to be a success, providing customers with more visibility and trust through personalized customer service is key. But delivering value-added customer service through self-service, community, or social channels without intelligent analytics in place means the workforce has to manually track customer interactions across every touchpoint to enable seamless and consistent omnichannel experiences. Such manual approaches need employees to be on their toes 24×7 and they cannot take out time to focus on high-value interactions. In addition, in the absence of standardized workflows, employees also struggle to have a 360-degree view of each customer’s journey, making it difficult to anticipate needs, personalize interactions, and deliver value at every touchpoint.
How Dynamics 365 Transforms the Manufacturing Landscape
For manufacturers, Microsoft
With Dynamics 365, manufacturers can optimize processes across the supply chain while laying the foundation for connecting advanced technology in the future. Here’s how Dynamics 365 has transformed manufacturing processes:
1. Visibility and Collaboration
Dynamics 365 integrates the sales and purchasing processes with logistics, production, and warehouse management to provide visibility and management throughout the supply chain. The inter-company and multi-site capabilities help drive streamlined vendor collaboration and manage distributed organizations with ease. Using Dynamics 365, manufacturers can:
- Optimize fulfillment and reduce costs by synchronizing logistics across sites, warehouses, and transportation modes and modernize business logistics
- Collect, integrate, and visualize global supply chain data and gain better visibility into operations from production to sales
- Gain visibility and control across all sites and warehouses and proactively respond to issues using predictive analytics
- Automate procure-to-pay processes, streamline operations, reduce procurement costs and gain greater control
2. Employee Productivity and Efficiency
In the manufacturing landscape, empowering employees is important for improving production efficiency. Dynamics 365, with its intelligent machine learning, collaboration, and analytics capabilities, offers employees all they need to do their tasks quickly and efficiently. It is only when employees are empowered, can they deliver personalized service and recommendations to customers, and turn relationships into revenue. With Dynamics 365, manufacturers can:
- Collect and analyze data from connected products and equipment and empower employees to collaborate more efficiently
- Automate processes across the manufacturing lifecycle, accelerate production, and improve cycle of innovation
- Provide employees a 360-degree view of customer asset and work order history and enable them to have a better understanding of customers and their needs
- Enable instant feedback from machine learning algorithms for successful troubleshooting and maintenance
3. Customer Service and Engagement
Not too long ago, optimizing manufacturing productivity and increasing customer satisfaction were viewed as two separate endeavors. However today, with digitization eliminating the boundaries of space and time, organizations are looking to engage with the always-connected customer through innovative means including social networks. Using Dynamics 365, manufacturers can:
- Take on a customer-centric approach while optimizing operations and change the way they do business
- Create and deliver personalized content that can be accessed anywhere and anytime by customers.
- Engage customers all across the product lifecycle from production design to field service
- Offer a range of value-add services that complement product sales, thereby opening new revenue streams and strengthening customer relationships
4. Real-time Insights
With visibility into business operations becoming the single most important element for improved decision-making, Dynamics 365, through its built-in analytics, offers real-time information on almost any device, at any time. The unmatched, rapid and scalable deployment options offer the best of both worlds (cloud and on-premises) to meet global business requirements of today and have the flexibility and ease to change as business needs evolve over time. Using Dynamics 365, manufacturers can:
- Simplify and accelerate business process changes by seamlessly integrating legacy systems and scaling globally at their own pace
- Achieve consolidated view to unify process oversight and institutionalize efficiency gains by monitoring and resolving issues remotely
- Improve service quality and margins by carrying out remote monitoring and proactive maintenance services that supplement break-fix support
- Enable intelligent coordination between technicians by equipping them with mobile and virtual reality tools that leverage existing expertise and minimize costly engagements
Unified System for Improved Outcomes
Across every industry, business leaders have come to realize that customer satisfaction is the top priority for any business. Companies who are looking to build customer-centric strategies are focusing on revamping their customer value propositions and changing modus operandi for to stay relevant. Businesses have always looked at new information and digital technology in terms of what it can do for them, e.g., enable greater profitability and expand customer reach through new business models. With customers having a range of new choices, making decisions about what to focus on or buy are through various channels, the digitization of manufacturing requires a shift in the way business operate – from a siloed approach to a more streamlined, connected one.
In the new era of manufacturing, organizations need to work faster and smarter to remain competitive.