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Are you servicing your customers?

07/05/2011

Never mind the mantra that the customer is always right, according to the findings of research from IDC Manufacturing Insights into the strategies of the discrete manufacturing sector, the customer is seriously high maintenance. 

Whether you are a CEO, COO, CFO or CIO in the manufacturing sector, you’ll be well aware of, and no doubt responsible in part for, the dynamic of living in the ‘now’ society.  We expect products how, when and where we want them, and this trend shows no signs of abating.  But cultural and social implications aside, this market characteristic is making an already tough manufacturing environment exponentially tougher.     
 
The knock-on impact of the ‘now’ society is that manufacturers are citing increasingly or rapidly changing customer requirements and demand volatility as serious concerns when it comes to servicing the customer effectively.  Manufacturers were asked how concerned they were about a range of issues on a scale of 1-5 and both demand volatility and changing requirements came in at a ‘very concerned’ 3.41.

Interestingly, despite these concerns, manufacturers believe that their customer fulfillment is excellent and precisely where it needs to be in moving forward.  They are less confident about areas which can add major value in addressing these concerns, most notably demand planning and bid and project management, citing a significant gap between where their current capabilities are and where they need to be over the next two years.   

How concerned are you about servicing an increasingly volatile and demanding customer base?  If our findings serve us right, all manufacturers are feeling the heat to some degree – wherever you are in the world. 

But while low cost bases and low complexity equips emerging markets with greater ability to respond to customer volatility, Western markets have a greater handle, and therefore derive substantially more benefit from the tools and ERP systems to manage fluctuating demand. 

Our expectations of the ‘now’ society certainly aren’t going to decrease any time soon.  And to keep pace, we, as an industry, truly have our work cut out.  Business agility, and recognizing the right tools for the job, will sort the winners from the losers in this space.    

Posted by Andrew Kinder, Director, Product Marketing, Infor

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