Industry 4.0 engages customers

The digital manufacturing enterprise powers the customer life cycle

About 50 percent of S&P 500 firms will likely be replaced over the next 10 years due to new digital disruptors and inability of established firms to reinvent themselves. How companies choose to evolve, explore new avenues for growth, and better engage their customers can make the difference between thriving and extinction.

Across all stages of the customer journey, advanced digital technologies are creating new opportunities for innovation and growth, and producing novel ways to improve and customize the customer experience. This digitally driven evolution—which lays the foundation for what Deloitte calls the digital manufacturing enterprise (DME)—is enabled by the rise of Industry 4.0.

In Industry 4.0, manufacturing systems and the objects they create are not just connected, drawing information from the physical world into the digital realm. Instead, Industry 4.0 takes this concept one step further: That digital information is then analysed and used to drive further intelligent action in the physical world, completing a physical-to-digital-to-physical loop of action and informed reaction.

This loop of intelligent, autonomous digital activity—and the Industry 4.0 technologies that drive it—affect the ways in which companies engage with their customers and meet customers’ ever-changing preferences. Further, and perhaps most importantly, it enables manufacturers to shift their value proposition from products to ongoing, data-driven services. Indeed, from initial research and sales to account management and aftermarket service, connected technologies create opportunities to improve efficiency and enhance customer experiences, helping manufacturers attract and retain customers as well as drive significant, service-driven value.

This paper explores the ways in which manufacturers can use Industry 4.0 technologies across their enterprise to transform customer relationships and create new value for both customers and channel partners. Indeed, many opportunities exist across the customer life cycle to better engage and interact with both customers and channel partners; the trick is identifying those openings and harnessing them effectively. To do so, companies should first understand how to apply Industry 4.0 technologies to their current customer engagement practices, move from being a traditional manufacturer to a DME, and set a course toward digital transformation.

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