Thursday, January 22, 2015

Under the Hood of a "Connected Factory"

Until recently, most manufacturing plants operated like they were built on desert islands, isolated from other factories and from the business networks, supply chains, and customers they depend on. For managers at these “disconnected” factories, the feeling was like flying blind, with only hazy visibility into downtime and quality problems. Rarely did they understand (or address) the root causes of inefficiencies.
This is a recipe for high costs and non-competitiveness, so the smartest manufacturers have been rushing to retool. Today, more manufacturers are using IoT (Internet of Things) and IP networks to connect everything within the plant and share information across multiple locations and business networks. Once machinery and systems are connected, manufacturers can harness the information to automate workflows and maintain and optimize production systems without human intervention.
Iconic motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson does this at its York, Penn. plant, where the company installed software that keeps a record of how different equipment is performing, such as the speed of fans in its painting booth. The software can automatically adjust the machinery if it detects that a certain measurement—such as fan speed, temperature, or humidity — has deviated from acceptable ranges.
“What used to take hours or days to troubleshoot problems now takes seconds,” the plant’s infrastructure design manager said. Plus, adding machines to the line is plug-and-play easy, allowing for quick changeovers to new models and reducing time to market.
Scores of other manufactures are getting connected lately, adopting new plant architectures that converge operational technologies (OT) with global IT networks. As a result, companies are reporting new levels of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), supply chain responsiveness, and customer satisfaction.

Wireless and mobility are key features of the new factory floor. Toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker, for example, has attached small RFID tags to parts to help tablet-carrying floor managers spot and fix bottlenecks on the line. These are just a couple examples of the new breed of Web-connected factories that is transforming the face of global manufacturing. To dive deeper, see our recent white paper that explores the technologies behind this worldwide manufacturing renaissance. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do You Know What Your Salespeople Are Selling?

By Jeb Dasteel and Amir Hartman
Sales organizations, beware! Today’s customers are more informed than ever and have no patience for salespeople telling them what they likely already know or how great your products are. And we know that most of the buying cycle is complete by the time customers actually engage with someone from sales. That means that selling, like marketing, has forever changed.
Making customer success part of the sales DNA helps companies engage customers in meaningful conversations about the business challenges those customers face and the business outcomes they are trying to achieve.
Today’s most successful sales reps are able to understand customers’ markets, competition, positioning, and what they need to do next to be successful. They provide their customers with actual facts that justify an investment in what they’re selling, and they work hard to build mutually beneficial and enduring relationships. Successful sales reps understand their customers’ business as much as any one of the customer’s employees. And they do this through a combination of in-person, social, and mobile engagement.
Sales must transform the terms of customer engagement—in other words, the language, tools, and skills they are equipped with have to help them sell business outcomes that matter to customers. Research shows that sales cycles can be reduced by over 30% when organizations use quantifiable evidence of the value their solutions deliver.
So what should you do? Start by demanding that your sales organizations (direct sales, inside sales, and channels) be able to:
  • Engage with your customers to understand their businesses, what’s top of mind, and how their performance is measured.
  • Problem-solve with your customers and then jointly develop and justify the business solution.
  • Recast and communicate the solution through relevant customer stories.
  • Help your customers with best practices and lessons learned for effective and speedy adoption of the solution.
  • Measure the actual value your customers are realizing, helping customers course-correct as necessary.
Bottom line: Provide your sales organizations with the skills and tools to truly embed themselves in their customers’ business, sell business outcomes, and ensure customer success. You’ll see a greater share of your customers’ business.
If you would like to participate in a short survey on customer success, we would be honored to have your input. Click here. It will take just a few minutes.
Jeb Dasteel is Oracle’s senior vice president and chief customer officer. Amir Hartman is cofounder and managing director of Mainstay, and author of the recent book Ruthless Execution.