The entire business environment for the sales forces in engineering and manufacturing industries is becoming more demanding – everyday sales activities need to be simpler, and the information technology infrastructure is becoming more complex. Also, the chief executives officers in any company require a clear overview of the entire business operations and any incoming investment opportunity.
In such environment, cloud solutions have proved to be indispensable tools for the high-tech and manufacturing industries to strengthen the sales forces, and carry out other functions efficiently. Let’s first analyze the current situation and find out why the manufacturing SMEs need cloud need cloud technology.
The failure of the outsourcing of IT
We have witnessed a significant shift in computing operations in the last one decade. Beginning from the late 1990s, most corporations changed their personal costs to project costs through outsourcing to optimize their budgets. Also, the decisions regarding ‘build vs. buy’ favored building software. As at that time, the standard software wasn’t a perfect match for the corporation’s demand, and this made most companies to go for the custom-tailored solution.
Currently, custom-tailored solutions and outsourcing approach appear to be a legacy for numerous companies. This implies that information technology could be sitting on obsolete solutions that are expensive to run. It is hard to upgrade such projects since they have no extra benefit to the corporation.
Note that it is clearly evident that the sales forces in the SMEs are left with only standard software like the Microsoft Excel to keep their data. Also, they only have Microsoft Word to generate proposals. Such standard office software is prone to errors that can turn out to be very costly to the entire business and are also inefficient.
However, the emergence of software-as-a-service has given the availability of unique specialized software and the IT operations model a new face. With that, even the SMEs have opportunities to support their sales forces in an affordable way and easily compatible with their current sales activities.
Usability is an indispensable tool in the sales forces
If the small or medium enterprises maintain a strong focus on the usability of the cloud technology, they are likely to achieve a higher user adoption rate, and this will result in effective sales processes in the business. One thing that the SMEs should note is that the IT can never push users to continue using obsolete software that has inadequate features to unravel the daily challenges in the business. Also, users tend to shy away from software that has unsatisfactory usability.
The so-called ‘consumerization of enterprise software’ offers a sufficient explanation to this trend and also gives insights into the resultant behavior: the sales persons turn to pens and papers, start looking for easy-use apps that can be installed on their mobile devices, and in worst cases, they stop documenting the sales processes. With that, such processes become inefficient as well as non0-scalable for the corporation. Also, lack of transparency intrudes the sales channels while the managers become unable to make the right and accurate predictions on revenue.
However, the cloud solutions can rescue businesses from this trap. One interesting aspect of the cloud software that makes more efficient is that it covers a small business process, and this implies that the software can focus on the user needs. Hence, usability is the primary focus of cloud solutions not only in interaction patterns and cover design but also in response times and performance which are essential for any business’s success.
Integrating the existing workflow through PDF or Word document downloads and Excel uploads will help in enhancing the user adoption rate, and this may lead to increased business productivity.
Centralized internal operations no longer work for sales persons on the road
Centralizing primary systems such as orders and maintaining them in one Enterprise Resource Planning systems is a trend that dominated the entire business operations in most companies in the last decade. Though this works well for personnel that has fixed workplace, it is a big problem for mobile staff such as sales people.
Having a centralized system that can be accessed externally for sales representatives to get relevant information comes with numerous security and data compliance risks. To cover this issue, most IT departments in the business tend to manage the internal network, virtual private network, and the reverse proxies. Despite these efforts, secure operations of a complicated network setup remain complex, and most users find such management approaches cumbersome and slow.
It is worth noting that sales representatives require a fast and reliable access sales data. With that, cloud technology becomes the best answer as it offers standardized and secure ways of synchronizing internal systems such as enterprise resource planning system’s data and makes it accessible in the cloud. With that, the salespeople no longer have to struggle to access the relevant information, and this enhances the effectiveness of the sales forces.
With the today’s highly-competitive business environment and the increasing demand of user-friendly software, the manufacturing SMEs should invest in cloud technology to survive the competition. Leveraging lean and smart cloud solutions that minimize costs and increases productivity is the roadmap to the success of the manufacturing SMEs.