Here I go to yet another IT conference to talk convergence and platform. Salesforce invited me to its summer marketing conference in June and promised an interview with a Vice President. I could take my wife out to a good anniversary dinner, visit family, and go to a tech conference with a good interview all on one trip. Too good to pass up.
This was the Salesforce Connections conference. Not as big as Dreamforce in San Francisco, but still quite large by our standards in manufacturing.
Salesforce is more than the CRM company it was. Many acquisitions later, it has assembled an array of technology. Like all tech companies, it has a platform. In fact due to its open APIs, you could use it, too. Some time ago, I interviewed the CEO of a manufacturing ERP company called Kenandy that was build upon the Salesforce platform. Rootstriker, another ERP company build on the Salesforce platform, recently acquired Kenandy.
Featured in one keynote was an application by MTD, a manufacturer of lawn tractors (Cub Cadet, etc.). No, Salesforce doesn’t run machines. It does help connect the manufacturer with its end customers and then with its dealers with feedback to the manufacturer.
The idea is that customers do online research and so need to be reached in many ways (thus Salesforce marketing). MTD erected an online store on the Salesforce platform (in simplified terms) for direct to the consumer interaction. An order is fulfilled by the local dealer. The dealer still gets margin and relationship and as an extra added bonus, the opportunity for service business. Linking all back to MTD, it gets to know the customer, satisfies the dealer, plus receiving data from the service business feeds back into product development.
Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce VP automotive/manufacturing, told me industry is moving from product centric to system, e.g., autonomous vehicles, mobility services, digital signals; factory automation, geographic expansion, intelligence, vehicle sales. Mobility services lead to transaction service—over air updates, location based services.
He noted that people start online and mostly know what they want before visiting a dealer. Other manufacturing customers tying their whole sales systems back to manufacturing include John Deere and Ecolab.
“State of the Connected Customer” report
Before I went to the conference, Saleforce sent me this interesting report—a survey of over 6,700 consumers and business buyers worldwide that looks at the ever changing landscape of customers’ expectations, the emerging technologies influencing these expectations and the role trust plays in the customer experience.
Customers today are energized by tech innovations — but also plagued by deepening distrust of the companies that provide them. They have high expectations about what makes a great customer experience, and not a lot of patience for companies that fail to deliver.
These trends impact every company, regardless of whether they sell to consumers or business buyers purchasing on behalf of their companies. In this research, “customers” is an aggregate of both consumer and business buyer responses.
The report dives into the nuances of this tricky customer landscape. Here are five of the high-level findings our research brought to light:
1. Customer experience matters even more than you think
Eighty percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. A majority take this sentiment a step further by voting with their wallets; 57% have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.
2. B2B expectations mirror B2C standards
The concept of “B2Me” isn’t new, but it’s gathering steam. Eighty-two percent of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves. But only 27% say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall B2B experience, signaling ample room to improve.
3. Companies face new connected mandates
For 84% of customers, being treated like a person — and not a number — is very important to win their business. Another 70% say connected processes are very important to win their business (such as seamless handoffs between departments and channels, or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions).
Even before a purchase, personalization is hugely important; 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to win their business.
While they buy, 78% of business buyers seek salespeople that act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry.
4. Technology sets new benchmarks for innovation
Real innovation, not lip service, is a deciding factor for most customers. 56% of customers (including 66% of business buyers) actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies.
While some emerging technologies are only starting to take root, a majority of customers say these technologies have transformed (or are actively transforming) their expectations: the Internet of Things (60%), voice-activated personal assistants (59%), and AI (51%).
5. Facing a crisis of trust: finding the balance between personalization and privacy
Sixty-two percent of customers say they’re more afraid of their data being compromised now than they were two years ago — and nearly half of customers (45%) feel confused about how companies use their data.
82% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for connections between their digital and in-person experiences.
81% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for more consultative help from salespeople.
85% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for proactive customer service.
For 92% of customers, the ability to control what personal information is collected makes them more likely to trust a company with that information.
Siemens invited a couple of writers to the Cincinnati area headquarters of PLM and a Cyber Security Center of Excellence to witness an internal presentation to Siemens employees. The presentation included both an overview of cyber security and the Siemens response plus Siemens’ plans to build a sizable business in the area. I was there along with safety and security writer Greg Hale.
Eric Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA, kicked off the day with a presentation on the importance of cyber security and Siemens’ intent to build the business. In fact, Spiegel noted, “We want to grow the cyber security services in the US at 2x market speed. Cyber was a small part of our business, but we see much potential for growth.”
Spiegel related, “I was at a White House meeting in the situation room, had a chance to meet the President. He talked to me directly about the need to protect critical infrastructure.” Spiegel continued that hacking is top of mind in this area. Recognizing Siemens’ own strategies in the area, he continued, “If digitalization is important for the future of manufacturing, then cyber security is also important. Attacks on critical manufacturing are becoming more frequent and intense. Two-thirds of CEOs rank cyber security as one of the top two things on their agenda. In response, we have 50 differentiated service offerings in cyber today.”
Cyber Security Golden Nuggets
Joanna Burkey, U.S. CISO, moderated the first panel discussion which was more technical in nature. She suggested to look for what she called “Golden Nuggets”, that is, places where a risk-based approach suggests vulnerabilities. For example, she noted, one is source code.
Siemens began the effort to uncover these golden nuggets and then decided to take what it learned to its customers. When Siemens goes out to a customer to consult on cyber risks, it follows a process that includes mapping IT assets (for example, SAP, end points, encryption), developing an asset classification system, designing an holistic protection process coordinating with business, IT, and vendors.
Siemens has identified about 700 of these golden nuggets and is in the process of mitigating 121 of them. It expects the number to grow to about 1,000.
Rolf Reinema, Head of Technology Field, added that protecting Intellectual Property goes beyond hardware and software, but it also includes algorithms. In process industries, these might be called recipes residing in a processor. “OT attacks are complex. Having so much legacy equipment creates vulnerabilities.” Then he left us with this sobering thought, “If a hacker shows they can attack, they’ll ask for a substantial deposit of bitcoins so that they won’t carry out the attack.” Think of the blackmail you could be open to.
Udo Wirtz, Head of Technology Field, calls the Internet the new company Intranet. “We are shining a light in a cave, we now can see some of the problems where five years ago not so much.” Wirtz also addressed phishing attacks. These attacks are still an important problem tricking people into clicking on what looks like a legitimate link which instead gives the hacker access to user accounts and even administrative rights. “So they are phishing all of us,” he concluded.
In March the FBI came to Siemens and GE and said that both had been contacted by Facebook. It seems that someone was “friending” employees on Facebook and building an innocuous relationship. Then they sent a link that turned out to be malicious. “It used to be stupid to click on a link. But today the messages are so sophisticated that it is hard to tell legitimate from phishing.”
Growing Cyber Security as a Business
The next session was a Marketing Panel addressing how Siemens will move cyber from internal to a customer service. Rajiv Sivaraman, VP and Head of Plant Security Services, said that given the development of digital manufacturing, cyber is high on the enterprise list. Siemens is laying foundations for taking customers on a journey to awareness. Answering the question about scaling the business, Sivaraman noted a progression of going from consulting and “hand-holding” to ultimately scaling to managed services. Siemens is also checking out partners for both C-Level and operations level consulting.
Ken Geisler, VP of Strategy & Markets, Energy Management Digital Grid, reported grid suppliers do have compliance requirements. As they grow many more points of access, e.g., smart meters on homes, there is growing concern for cyber security. Cyber is a huge potential market with many competitors.
Judy Marks, Executive Vice President, Global Solutions, Dresser-Rand, A Siemens Business, says that with the oil & gas market it’s all about business and enterprise risk. Especially with the exposure of offshore facilities. They also have the challenge of operating in a heterogeneous environment. Siemens, through acquisitions, is now a leading service provider to O&G and plans to leverage that into growing the cyber business.
In his first year at Siemens, Leo Simonovich, Director, Global Cyber Strategy, said operations is the new frontier for attacks. Of all attacks, 30% are targeting of coming from OT. Customers are turning to Siemens “because we understand that environment. We can secure the technology stack.” Another sobering thought, your chances of an attack? 100%.
Jeremy Bryant, Head of PD PA secure networking solution business, added that customers (and Siemens) need to be worried about inside-out attacks as well as outside-in.
Overall, a profitable day in Cincinnati to learn what Siemens was up to. Several of the majors have some type of cyber division or initiative. Siemens appears to be ahead of that pack right now. As a user, you should be happy that suppliers are developing solutions to help in the battle.
One of my new favorite tech news sites is The Information. It’s a subscription email newsletter/Website founded by Jessica Lessin. (Interestingly my other favorite is Pando, also founded by a woman–Sarah Lacy.)
Jessica’s husband, Sam, wrote a post with a provocative thought this week, The Good Enough Stuff Revolution.
He asks, “Are Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club razors better than Gillette? What about Honest Co. soap versus Dial soap? I have no idea, and I don’t have any interest in figuring it out. They are good enough and generally easier to buy, and so they win.
“There is, in my mind, a major revolution underway in most consumer hard and soft goods which I call the Good Enough Stuff revolution. As a result, most traditional brands sold through traditional retail avenues are going to struggle to find a foothold in this new world.”
This leads to the provocative idea, “The thing to understand is that Good Enough products aren’t purely commodities racing to the bottom. They are a class of products where the end-to-end experience of selection, purchasing and customer service is more important than the product itself.”
Good enough Industrial Products?
What do you buy? Of course there are many classes of industrial products. Large assets, smaller assets, control components, MRO.
Which of these do you buy because of the end-to-end customer experience rather than diligently searching out best-in-class or merely price?
There are lots of PLCs available, for instance. You could get a smaller one and buy on price. You could go to AutomationDirect and buy direct over the Web (not unlike Amazon). You could buy where there is a strong distributor relationship. You could go with the “new kid on the block”–Bedrock Automation–and go for the added feature of built-in security.
Have you changed buying habits over the past 10 years or so? Do you think you could change buying habits? Where would you draw the line on size of equipment??
More important, perhaps, would be the question–should I be considering how I purchase and re-evaluate the entire process.
I took 10 days off to go on vacation in Europe. I tried to write ahead, but ran out of time. So last week I reposted several older items.
We did the Danube cruise on Viking (you can see its ads on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS) from Nuremberg to Budapest–two of my favorite cities.
Three are many notable takeaways from the trip, but one thing stands out from a professional perspective. That would be workforce recruitment and training.
Every person on the ship’s staff was obviously screened well and then trained impeccably. It’s the same reason I like to stay at Marriotts. The staff is invariably friendly and trained–not only to do their jobs well but also to excel at customer service.
This contrasted markedly with the poor American Airlines guy who was managing (sort of) the queue through security at JFK. He’d do one thing, then reverse himself, then reverse again. All this in the space of 15 minutes! The queues were hopeless. Some industrial engineering training would go a long way toward adequate customer service at JFK.
Big Data and Jim Pinto
Meanwhile, I’ve finished sorting through about 1,200 emails today in addition to a couple of meetings. Catching up with work after a trip is so much fun.
Jim Pinto’s latest blog message was buried in my email folder. Turning from his recent ruminations on life, he turned to the Big Data subject.
Here’s Jim’s summary:
A revolution that compares with the impact of the Internet is changing the way that business, politics, health, education – almost everything – is being conducted. It is pervasive to the extent that everyone knows that it’s there, but no one can do anything to stop encroachment Every digital process that surrounds everybody at all times generates data: messages, updates, images posted to social networks; readings from sensors; GPS signals from cell phones. What’s revolutionary is that something can now be done with the data. Online retailers develop algorithms to predict what individual customers like, performing better every time recommendations get a response or are ignored. Political campaigns analyze large datasets to create predictions, giving data-savvy campaigns a major advantage. Big data has become the basis of competition and growth.
What with sensors everywhere, all that data must go somewhere in order to be useful. The consumer domain has been struggling with this. And it is all so debatable. Is is service or invasion of privacy for all these consumer companies to compile all that data about us? On the one hand, they hope to serve us ads and information that would be relevant to what we’re interested in. On the other, what if a nefarious agent–say the Department of Homeland Security or the local police–grabbed all that data and then trumped up charges against us?
In the manufacturing/industrial domain, ubiquitous sensors and massive amounts of data are old hat. But…are historians adequate to the tasks required by modern manufacturing methods? What do we need to learn and incorporate from the new database technologies from consumer big data? Who is working on that? This is crucial to the success of Industrial Internet of Things.
Anyway, check out Jim and debate with him–he loves that!