The Future of Manufacturing, research conducted by IDC for Salesforce, addresses the issue of digital innovation prospects in our country’s businesses.

Italian manufacturing companies feel the need to improve customer satisfaction and experience, but to do so they know that they must be able to better align data and processes between IT and business lines.

The success of a company must be based on production processes that evolve with technologies and the IoT is a clear example of this.

What emerges clearly from the survey is that digital innovation in manufacturing industry is today characterised by centrality of data: from production to information acquisition, to analytics and automation.

This evolution is helping to improve the flexibility and overall effectiveness of companies, allowing the implementation of data-driven decision-making processes and new business models. Despite this evidence, only 31% of Italian companies are in an advanced phase of implementation of IoT projects.

In a scenario where products can quickly become commodities, manufacturing companies are looking for new ways to deliver value to their customers. Customer Loyalty is a key marketing priority for 92% of the companies interviewed.

In the long term, the strategy for 45% of companies is to focus on product and service differentiation.

The ability to solve customer problems and provide better experience has created the conditions for exploring new strategies, such as the… service.. which allows the transition from the supply of goods and services to the supply of integrated systems. Based on this new model, the ability to integrate a complex ecosystem of partners is an important factor for success, helping to strengthen customer loyalty and satisfaction.

With the progressive connection of factories, products and employees, cybersecurity is now at the top of the manufacturing companies’ design priorities, with the aim of protecting data and systems and respecting regulatory compliance.

In general, there is a strong alignment on the prospects of innovation between the three main business areas (IT, Marketing & Sales and Customer Service) which see a strong need for greater data sharing and integration between different business areas.

The cloud plays a strategic role in the evolution of IT infrastructures as it is crucial for the creation of connected environments and data-driven. But IoT technologies will also see their importance for digital innovation in production processes and data collection and analysis with strategic impacts on business models.

According to IDC’s research, Italian manufacturing companies show the common need to improve customer satisfaction and experience, but also to overcome the lack of alignment between IT and business lines. In many cases, there is also a lack of innovation-oriented business culture.

The IT departments continue to be looking for new infrastructure and architectural models to support increasingly data-intensive workloads. The renewal and evolution of infrastructure is moving towards hybrid models, already explored by many companies, which include the simultaneous use of on-premise services, on private and public clouds. Security continues to play a key role in data and system protection. Moreover, the progressive adoption of new technologies, such as the cloud, the IoT, big data and mobile devices, are also characterizing the need for an application renewal also in the areas of the ERP and CRM.

Alignment and collaboration between different business areas is confirmed as a fundamental necessity for the Marketing & Sales departments. Data remain at the heart of the innovative marketing and sales strategies of Italian manufacturing companies. For this reason, the most desired solutions for a strategic CRM solution are customer analytics, social media activities, viral marketing, sentiment analysis and sales forecasting.

Manufacturing companies can no longer postpone investments in innovative technologies for the customer support service area.

Service Management activities need to be connected to the main business applications (e.g. Enterprise Asset Management, ERP, CRM, Supply Chain Management).

Nowadays, however, the data collected by the support service or the field interactions with customers are not always integrated and valued in an appropriate way. If feedback and information collected by the field service is not provided to other systems within the company, negative impacts on sales, marketing activities and customer satisfaction in general are likely.

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