Never before has change fueled by technology been so pervasive. The last decade has completely reshaped and restored our world and the way we do business. Digital transformation to achieve business transformation is occupying the top slot on every company’s priority list. CIO’s and CTO’s clearly have their work cut out for them as today, technology is the key driver to help you outperform your competition.
The tweet that started it all!
I came across a recent tweet by Forrester that set me thinking (I know! A great outcome from less than 280 characters). The tweet shows how technologies such as IoT, Edge Computing, AI, and Blockchain are rising progressively in creating an industry impact. The point that stood out for me was the claim that “next-gen cloud platforms” were the technology construct enterprises were best geared to adopt and that also drove the maximum impact.
But what could that mean for the folks that we work with? Manufacturers, B2B, and B2B2C companies have their own challenges and many of them are to do with how they create, process, translate, syndicate, and analyze product information.
So, what is the challenge for manufacturers?
As the march towards digital accelerates for these folks, it intensifies the need for quality product information. Gone are the days when B2B or B2B2C organizations could get away with a less than optimal online experience. Complex product offerings and a need to address the growing needs of the woke buyer are challenges that need careful handling. Product specifications are constantly evolving. There are new products hitting the shelves ever so often.
As B2B buying gravitates closer to the expectation of a B2C experience, organizations have no option but to look at upping their online capabilities to generate sales. According to the Forrester B2B Buying Behaviors survey, 62% of B2B buyers are influenced to buy by the range of capable and credible information available from a supplier. It is a no-brainer to conclude that B2B companies have to place a heavy focus on providing credible, clear, consistent, and updated product information that drives the buyer decision forward -at all times.
However, there is the challenge of managing the complexities of content for these companies. The volume of product information is huge. They don’t know what specific product information is relevant to their buyers. It’s hard for them to predict how that information will be best received by the buyer. And the product information keeps evolving rapidly as the product evolves. This task involves capably transferring catalog information to align with style guides. Along with this, we need to enable continuous content deployment to achieve accelerated speed the time-to-market.
These companies also often have a complex manufacturer and supplier network. This adds to the scale of the challenge. Now they have to ensure that the product data can be syndicated seamlessly across this network and all its disparate systems and processes. Accelerating the distribution of product data across supply chains and sales channels is also a crucial point to consider.
Managing the complexities of providing location-specific content, ensuring the presence of contextually relevant images, use of localized words for appropriate product description, safety standard codes, and compliance needs, etc. are also key.
It’s clear that content influences sales. This suggests that we need to accelerate and optimize the distribution of product information across all the sales channels (digital, distributor) and supply chains. The challenge is that the organizational digital experience has to provide uniformity of content.
We also have to navigate the challenge of ensuring product information is presented in exactly the right manner. There are the technical and technology considerations that enable smooth digital interactions. For instance, you must ensure that the right product information is presented with the product image that has to be accounted for.
What’s the solution (and what about that tweet)?
Clearly, there are a number of touchpoints that need addressing. However, what if there were a technology solution that would enable the democratization of this whole process? A cloud-enabled platform, for example, could make this content management nightmare a great deal more pleasant. Uploading and evaluating product information becomes more manageable.
Such a platform could also have a standard set of templates to present product information in the right manner. This could make presenting product information in the correct format a whole lot easier. The product managers then don’t need to focus on the technology involved in presenting product information.
SaaS products are also increasingly gravitating towards self-service. This aspect ensures that the user is enabled where work happens and proactively. Whether it is product information management or problem-solving, self-service gives more power in the hands of the user (who in this case is the product owner in the manufacturing enterprise).
The use of new age technologies such as the cloud thus emerges as a possible savior to address a key challenge of manufacturing companies. A cloud-native platform (as identified in the tweet) could help in enabling greater democratization of product data. Giving the users in the manufacturing companies the right set of resources could help them to manage their own product data needs effortlessly. There’s little doubt in my mind that this could work. And, it’s a single tweet that made that apparent!