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8 CRM Essentials for Manufacturers in the Internet of Things Era

3. CRM inside the inbox. Most sales and marketing professionals use email all day long, and email can sometimes be an impediment to adoption of the CRM solution by end users. How a CRM solution interacts with popular email tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Gmail will have a big impact on the user experience. Choose a solution that brings CRM functionality inside the email inbox, rather than forcing employees to toggle back and forth between applications.

4. Social media capabilities. In a mobile device-driven world, it's important to engage with existing and prospective customers through social media during the sales and marketing cycle, and also for customer service and support.

5. Analytics. A CRM solution contains crucial information about customers and buying trends, as well as the performance of sales, marketing, and customer support. It's essential that this information can be used to make informed business decisions and shape strategic priorities.

6. Integration with key business systems. There's no good place for data silos in a connected, global business environment. Operating at the speed of the IoT means you need to make sure your CRM solution integrates with key business systems, especially your ERP system.

7. Ease of customization. In the overall IoT infrastructure, technology evolves quickly. Your CRM solution needs to be able to scale up without complication and adapt to changing business processes. Most enterprise CRM solutions allow for customization, but you'll get the most value from a system that can be customized without coding.

8. Designed for manufacturers in an increasingly digital world. Manufacturers are turning to business systems designed to meet specific challenges to help them differentiate themselves from competitors. Developing customer-centric business models is one of the most important ways manufacturers are avoiding commoditization of their products. Highly personalized products are becoming the new normal in manufacturing, with engineer-to-order (ETO) and make-to-order (MTO) processes put in place. 

How Can Manufacturers Take Advantage of Modern Capabilities?

The Internet of Things offers growth opportunities for manufacturers recovering from the recent economic setbacks. The IoT provides valuable insights in both the consumer world and the business world. Connected machines and systems can help improve the manufacturing process itself, and connected products can help manufacturers to engage with their customers, suppliers, partners, and distributors like never before.

To find the right CRM solution, manufacturers will want to consider the technology drivers of the IoT—cloud, mobile, and social media. They should also look for functionality, such as email integration and ease of customization, which can drive user adoption. Finally, manufacturers should seek a CRM solution designed for their industry and integrated with major business solutions such as ERP, business intelligence, and marketing automation to help them operate more efficiently and deliver an exceptional, consistent customer experience.

Jason Rushforth is vice president and general manager of customer experience business at Infor. Rushforth is a respected technology industry veteran with more than 17 years of experience acquiring and growing businesses, defining and aligning technology offerings, and leading global, world-class teams. Rushforth is currently responsible for the entire go-to-market strategy and revenue for Infor's Customer Experience Solutions.

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