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The relationship recently forged between optimizing productivity in manufacturing, and increasing customer satisfaction has somewhat disrupted the manufacturing industry.

Many manufacturers today are focusing their efforts on integrating digital and physical systems which can improve visibility, increase efficiency, offer further flexibility and lower costs.

They’re also making advances towards the now commonly used term smart factory, by endeavouring to connect equipment and factories to leverage data from the factory fall to customer call centres, with the goal to improve every aspect of their operations – optimizing productivity and increasing customer satisfaction at the same time.

Digital transformation

‘Digital transformation’ as it is known is fundamentally changing the way that many manufacturers are doing business by enabling more of a customer-centric approach while also optimizing operations.

Manufacturers that consider themselves to be digitally empowered are able to engage with customers through the product lifecycle and are able to predict and understand future trends that may impact on production or product design. Also, the convergence of physical and digital developments is altering how optimum productivity and maximum customer satisfaction is achieved.

Companies that are maximising new technologies in this way are able to sell value-add services to complement product sales, which opens new revenue streams and strengthens customer relationships, often also increasing customer loyalty.

Taking hold of the trend

It’s a common concern amongst manufacturers that capitalizing on trends of this nature is limited only to large, well-resourced manufacturing businesses, but with the new unified and flexible solutions from Microsoft, the opportunity to digitize has never been more accessible.

Here's how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help manufacturers in five ways:

1. Optimize supply chain operations through enhanced visibility

By collecting, integrating and visualizing supply chain data, manufacturers can gain better visibility into their operations from production to sales.

As an example, a large industrial automation firm found that by automating the collection and analysis of data from remote installations across their supply chain, they were able to increase their competitive advantage with a faster time to market.

Improved visibility and access to supply chain data can also help to inform better collaborative discussions and projects across production, supply, service, sales, and marketing.

2. Streamlining asset management

The ‘connected factory’ capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics 365 provide real-time insight into data, which means that manufacturers can monitor machines and resolve any issues remotely. These additional insights into performance, usage and machine lifecycle stage allows manufacturing businesses to provide value-added services such as proactive support, or ongoing monitoring – using this approach, it is possible to enable 24-hour continuous uptime, a great differentiator against competitors!

3. Open additional or alternative revenue streams

Through the increasing use of the Internet of Things (sensors), mobile devices and cloud-based data aggregation, manufacturers now have the option to offer services such as proactive maintenance and remote monitoring that supplements usual support.

The ability to intelligently co-ordinate your technicians equipped with mobile tools and data at their fingertips, you can leverage the best expertise to fix a problem, no matter where it is, and minimizes what could have been a costly engagement, another plus for your customers!

4. Accelerate innovation and time to market

The best way to pursue innovation is to understand customer needs, or the product a little more.

By using IoT-enabled parts, manufacturers can gain the insights that they need to innovate faster. As an example, through sensors on machines, teams are able to track and identify faulty or inefficient components in the field and use the information gathered to improve future designs.

Using a data-drive approach can accelerate the cycle of innovation, and decrease time to production. For more information on improving your time to market, take a look at our downloadable tip sheet for manufacturing.

5. Increase customer loyalty

It’s all about data. Through predictive analytics (available with Microsoft Dynamics 365) and the ability to deliver value-added services to your customers, you can build trust through fast and convenient responses. With a connected platform, you can solve potential problems remotely before your customers feel the impact, proving your value and building loyalty and trust.

Predictive analytics also allows you to configure differentiated offerings based on each customer usage and purchasing history. Solving customer problems or potential shortages before they have the chance to actually happen is what can increase your customer loyalty.

What Microsoft Dynamics 365 means for manufacturers

For manufacturers, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial divide between CRM and ERP systems and supplements necessary capabilities with rich analytics, embedded intelligence, and the convenience people expect from consumer apps on their phone or tablet.

Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, at the pace and scale that’s right for you.  

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