Fortify your walls with digital in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

September 27, 2016

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By Ian Kahn and Antoine Givens, PwC

Today’s manufacturers are striving to adapt to a new world order. As unlikely competitors scale the formerly impenetrable walls of quality and brand, it’s no longer enough to just keep digital warriors at bay. Digitized customers now expect smart, tailored products; mobility; full transparency; and a seamless experience spanning marketing, sales, and service. While 89% of industrial manufacturers say customers and clients are the most influential stakeholders1, many are not prepared for the new digital battlefield.

Players embracing this new market reality are focusing on customer-centric digital manufacturing, which is focused on four strategic areas to deliver greater customer value and sustain their brand promise:

  • Enhance the Lead to Revenue journey: Differentiate around each customer moment of truth.
  • Solidify Partner/ Channel Relationship Management (PRM): Drive trust and transparency and build a win-win environment.
  • Leverage Customer Insights: Speed response time and proactively / prescriptively meet customer expectations.
  • Foster Agility and Innovation: Unite IT and business with one objective: deliver value to the customer.

The impact on the bottom line is tangible. We’ve seen our clients achieve significant results2 such as:

  • 25-50% faster sales cycle
  • 10-40% increase in renewals efficiency
  • 30-60% reduced quote-to-order cycle time
  • 20-25% increase in cross- and up-sell opportunities

Below are insights that can help manufacturers reap big rewards in today’s digital economy:

Embed analytics, digitization, and mobility in the lead to revenue process. This is the trigger to adding value and identifying cross- and up-sell opportunities. While technology enables greater efficiencies across this continuum, a sound thought process around investments is critical. To do this, first define your vision of the customer experience. Second, select the technology platform and processes that will enable it. How can we differentiate around each moment of truth? What value can we provide at each step of the journey? How does each touchpoint affect my customer strategy? The answers to these questions will help define your path.

Align partner relationship management to your strategy. Trust and transparency among manufacturers and partners are vital to ensure a cutting edge and consistent customer experience. Create a value-based partner strategy that maps to your vision. Bake in accountability at various stages and consider incentive models.

In the past, manufacturers would often push (some would say “throw”) leads to their channel partners. Once in the air, manufacturers quickly lost track of leads—not knowing whether or when to insert technical expertise or guidance. The dynamic needs to change—so that partners prioritize your product over your competitors. Savvy manufacturers are leveraging digital to better qualify leads; connect with the right dealer; and collaborate throughout the customer journey.

Study and apply customer insight. Data can either be a blessing or a curse if it’s perceived as a goal rather than an enabler to a better customer experience. Manufacturers often turn to data first to determine their strategy—while leaders flip the problem and first define their vision—using data as an enabler. We are just starting to grasp the potential of customer insights. Leaders who unleash the power of analytics, connected products (IoT), and structured customer data can truly differentiate their customer journey.

Focus on innovation and agility. New product innovation, a traditional manufacturing strong suit, is no longer enough.  First and foremost, manufacturers need an innovative customer experience mindset. Break down silos between business and IT and close the gap between cost and profit centers. The ambitious areas of lead to revenue, PRM, and customer insight require fast-paced, cross-functional teams that blend customer experience, business strategy, and technology for a better customer experience.

One global security and safety manufacturer faced stagnant growth and needed to redefine its customer experience worldwide. Recent acquisitions had resulted in fragmented customer interactions across every touchpoint. Outdated systems and limited visibility into customer data prevented collaboration with partners and hindered the ability to identify valuable customer insights. The company leveraged a powerful digital platform and redefined its sales, marketing, and service processes worldwide. They deployed a mobile-enabled solution to address the needs of field engineers. New capabilities provided a 360-degree view of the customer and enabled seamless partner collaboration. A business-led analytics approach helped generate the right type of insights—mapping to the overall strategy.

Today’s manufacturers face a simple choice: Disrupt, or be disrupted. Digital and customer platforms are not magic. But manufacturers who are willing to innovate and invest in their customers can drive an extraordinary customer experience and make a tangible difference in the market.


Source 1: Forrester’s Global Business Technographics Business and Technology Services Survey, 2015

Source 2: Figures are representative of PwC delivered program outcomes in the manufacturing space


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