Where digitalization has been on the rise in the manufacturing industry for years, 2020 and COVID-19 have made it even more urgent. Digitalization is not just a desired dot on the horizon now, but a condition to remain competitive in the industry both during and after the pandemic. A condition that will eventually grant a lot of advantage to the manufacturing industry.
Every company has encountered the consequences of this year’s crisis. Where certain sectors have ridden the wave of increasing online orientation, the largest portion of the manufacturing industry has had a tough year. Lowering orders, delivery problems and employee shortages in production caused a lot of uncertainty. The importance of online visibility and visualization of products became clear: physical contact with customers was no longer possible. Causing sales calls to gain a different dynamic and making it more difficult to give a customer a good feel for the product.
On top of that, it is now more difficult to train your dealer network and supply it with adequate knowledge and developments. Businesses that could not manage to offer online alternatives were forced to temporarily close their doors. These extraordinary circumstances have roused urgency to restructure business processes, particularly by digitizing the (pre-)production process.
A development influencing not just the manufacturing industry but the entire economy has arisen: online visibility and findability. Physically showing your customer around in the showroom, to then create a customer specific order over a cup of coffee is no longer the norm. The consumer expects the business to go along with the developments in online visibility, visualization of the product and ‘self-service’.
The challenge here does not lie in offering your product package online, but in also offering all variants and options, in the customer journey: allowing customers to independently configure a customized solution, tailored to their needs. This is where visualization of the product is important: textual explanation about a product no longer suffices. The customer expects the product portfolio to be demonstrated in an interactive and attractive way.
Anticipating a crisis such as COVID-19 is impossible, but by gaining insight in customer demands at an early stage businesses can in fact anticipate reducing orders, and delivery problems. Offering your product range online is crucial: this allows you to determine customer needs in an early, orienting phase. Afterwards a so-called chain integration can allow good cooperation between purchasing, stock, and production, resulting in an efficient way to react to customer demands.
Probably the biggest consequence of the current crisis and one of the biggest challenges: having all business processes be managed while working remotely. A condition for this is a complete chain integration in the cloud. When this is attained, it becomes possible for every employee to fulfill all processes: from composing a quotation to generating a bill of materials or CAD model. All from their office chair in their improvised work office.
We will continue to support SMEs as good as we can during 2021. The importance of our product configurator has become more and more apparent to manufacturing businesses looking to move to digitalization. This allows us to push our own growth during this crisis. And to further develop our product in the years to come. In 2021 even more companies in the industry will make the digital transition, with the focus on digital pre-production. Elfsquad will ensure this happens fast, and without problems.
We let our innovative power in the manufacturing industry speak and are proud to say that we have received a number of prominent awards with Elfsquad. This motivates us further to fulfill our mission together with our customers: Ensure the manufacturing industry the right to exist.