Salesforce (2)
An image of Achyut Jajoo, Autodesk's head of manufacturing and automotive, over Dreamforce 2016.

Salesforce Sets Its Sights on … Manufacturing?

Nov. 3, 2017
On the eve of one of the country’s largest shows, a conversation with the manufacturing veteran who heads up automotive and manufacturing for the cloud giant.

Think for a second or two about the biggest trade shows in the world. CES probably pops up right away. Maybe Hannover Messe over in Germany does, too. And what about the annual extravaganza Salesforce puts on every year called Dreamforce? No? Not so much?

Maybe it will enter the manufacturing mind sooner rather than later.

The cloud computing giant is focusing more than ever before on manufacturing — though it still represents a sliver of its market reach — and will include dozens of industrial sessions at its four-day trade show out in San Francisco.

In advance of that event, IndustryWeek talked with Achyut Jajoo, an automotive and manufacturing veteran who made the move from Oracle four years ago to become Salesforce’s global industry team leader for the automotive and manufacturing industries.

IndustryWeek: What’s your manufacturing background?

Achyut Jajoo: I began as an engineer working in automotive, but then began developing CRM technology products for manufacturing customers. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with large global manufacturing organizations to help them with their customer experience and digital technology vision, plans, and with their overall execution of that vision. I spend a significant amount of time talking with C-level suites of these manufacturing companies about digital transformation, the opportunities and challenges ahead for the industry, and how can they leverage CRM technologies to occupy leadership positions in their business.

IW: Salesforce isn’t the first name that comes to mind for most manufacturers. How are you staying relevant? What are some of the company’s plans for industry?

AJ: We are seeing a profound shift taking place in manufacturing. Most manufacturers are moving away from product-centric strategies toward becoming customer-centric organizations. This is predominantly driven by their intent to become more services-oriented, by the addition of sensors to their products, and development of software to take advantage of the connected data. So the future manufacturer is differentiating on software and hardware solutions for their customers.

What this means is that a manufacturer can no longer think of sales and customer relationships as purely transactional. It’s not about processing an order in ERP. Customer-centric manufacturers need to collect and analyze all kinds of customer data — from sales interactions, to service history, to marketing touches, to product usage data and more. And they need to unify all that customer data in one place, analyze it, and try to understand the full potential lifetime value of that customer. And their customers demand this from the manufacturers.

So, our customers and prospects are the ones who are undergoing these customer-centric digital transformations. CEOs, business unit heads, chief digital officers —they understand that they need new breeds of systems, which can take them into the customer-centric future.

IW: Can you name names? Who are some of your more recognizable manufacturing customers?

AJ: KONE is the world’s second-largest elevator and escalator manufacturer. More than 1 billion people use their products every day. That requires global coordination, managing B2B and B2B2C experiences, and mobilizing service quickly. Using our suite, they’ve got a complete, real-time view of their customers and business while being able to deliver best-in-class service. Plus, we integrate seamlessly with their back-end systems. KONE is using Field Service Lightning to maintenance over 1 million service contracts. If an elevator has an issue, it triggers a service case. A dispatcher can then quickly review the case and field it to the right technician for the job, with relevant knowledge articles & product details. The field technician is equipped on-site with a mobile application with all the information they need and the ability to update the customer directly from the app.

General Motors is a pretty big name. They wanted to expand customer on-the-road services for drivers using OnStar. They needed to build a merchant community, manage point of interest, discounts and offers to provide contextual recommendations to drivers. They turned to our app cloud as the foundation for their next-generation of in-car services.

Honeywell, too. Honeywell built an app to better connect with their distributors and suppliers, allowing much better data collection from their customers, and allowing contractors to be much more proactive, collaborative and successful with customers.

IW: From where you stand, what are the biggest issues in manufacturing today?

AJ: There are really three key challenges:

First, the IoT-ization of everything has manufacturers drowning in data and unable to separate signal from noise. Caught up in the IoT wave, they’ve placed sensors on heavy equipment, plant machinery and even their shipped products (jet engines, trains, etc.). And the mass of IoT data has manufacturers unable to analyze the information for use in their day-to-day businesses.

Second, due to rapid growth and M&A activities, manufacturers’ back offices are a mess of multiple siloed ERP systems and trapped data, making it difficult to have a consistent view of their business and customers.

Third, legacy technology and paper-based systems have created a disconnect between field service agents and the home office. More than 70% of executives say their field service agents need to make return visits at least sometimes. Many field service reps aren’t mobile-enabled, and are unable to look up customer data and service histories in real-time. Only 46% of executives say agents have the ability to access customer information if not connected to the internet or WiFi.

IW: Getting companies to adopt new technologies can be a challenge. How do you convince companies to implement yours?

AJ: Customers across all industries are demanding much more, which is changing the way information flows. They expect the information they need when they need it. They expect you to know everything about your relationship with them, throughout its entire lifetime. That's forcing manufacturers to think about how to bridge the gap.

What this means is that manufacturers need to focus on creating a consistent, seamless customer experience, eliminating the pains or silo effects of internal structures. This means thinking about the customer experience not just as when a customer has installed or deployed a product and is physically using it. It means thinking about the customer experience as the sum of all interactions and touchpoints your customer has with your company and your brand, even before they’ve bought anything from you.

IW: What do you expect to see more of in the next year?

AJ: We’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution — an incredible wave of innovation and technology that is radically transforming our economies, our societies and our daily lives. After steam in the 1700s, electricity in the 1800s, and computing power in the 1900s, we have intelligence. Key factors driving the incredible changes we’re experiencing include the decreasing cost of computing power and connected devices, the ease of using sophisticated algorithms, machine learning, and other forms of artificial intelligence.

In manufacturing, AI helps you get closer to your customers. AI is having a huge impact in how you research, develop, manufacture, and distribute your products. And it has implications for all parts of business operations, from sales and service teams all the way to your back office. Companies are investing in this because they want automation through intelligence, and the rapid growth of data requires them to look at and focus on these technologies.

About the Author

Matt LaWell | Staff Writer

Staff writer Matt LaWell explores news in manufacturing technology, covering the trends and developments in automation, robotics, digital tools and emerging technologies. He also reports on the best practices of the most successful high tech companies, including computer, electronics, and industrial machinery and equipment manufacturers.

Matt joined IndustryWeek in 2015 after six years at newspapers and magazines in West Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, a season on the road with his wife writing about America and minor league baseball, and three years running a small business. He received his bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University.

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