How Digital Transformation Impacts The Manufacturing Industry

Document creation, sharing, signature and storage in a single location reduces “paper” steps. And fewer steps means more time and productivity for manufacturing teams.

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David KerrDavid Kerr

Business owners know that over the last several years, everything has moved online. Not just with emails and virtual web conferencing, but even the way we do things like create and manage documents. And, if you’re hiring new employees, onboarding a new client or hiring a new company for services, you’ve likely used an e-signature to complete a document.

A story by Industry Today mentions that in 2018, only 30 percent of manufacturers investing in digital transformation will be able to maximize outcomes. The remaining 70 percent are hindered by outdated business models and technology. Consumer expectations and the advent of connected devices and platforms are driving the persistent digitization in manufacturing. While the majority of manufacturing executives acknowledge the importance of this transformation, only five percent of them are satisfied with their current digital strategies. The manufacturing industry continues to evolve in response to the challenge of ensuring the right products are delivered at the right price to the right person.

Digital signatures

When we talk about digital transformation, one of the most easily recognizable features is e-signatures. The largest provider of this service is DocuSign, a San Francisco-based company that provides electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services for facilitating electronic exchanges of contracts and signed documents. In August of 2017, the federal government approved the legal use of DocuSign, effectively communicating to the masses that e-signature technology is here to stay. This technology is now a “must have” for business leaders, not a “nice to have” like it was just a few years ago. So, what’s coming next in the world of digital transformation?

The digital signature market is expected to grow by more than 30 percent each year, and that growth will transform more than just the way we sign contracts. Mainly, it will have a profound effect on all aspects in the manufacturing industry: work orders, production, distribution, sales, legal and more. Let me break it down.

Digital Workflows

Digital workflow has a place in just about any area of business. When we take a look at sales and legal departments within organizations, standardization of contracts and proposals is essential. Consistency is a critical element of any workflow. Internally, it provides the framework for a process than can be easily and efficiently replicated across your organization. Externally, it provides a seamless and consistent customer experience. It also greatly reduces the risk of human error. From brand messaging and service offerings to contract terms and pricing structures, standardizing your contracts and outbound documents eliminates the need to worry about anyone misrepresenting your offers or making promises that your company can’t keep.

Neither speed nor accuracy can be achieved without the right document workflow. And that requires a template that provides a solid foundation for document generation, a tech stack that makes pulling data from disparate sources easy, and a central location to store each document after it’s been created. A reliable document workflow is important for companies of all sizes, but it’s especially important for the enterprise, where speed and accuracy can save valuable money and time.

Customer Management

Customer conversations begin well before your first proposal is sent, and extend far beyond the signature line on your first deal. These manufacturing industry activities represent a crucial turning point in the company and customer relationship. Getting those initial interactions right not only makes or breaks the initial deal, but also wins or loses you the lifetime value of the opportunity. A workflow process that balances control with flexibility gives your organization an edge that can make a big difference to your long-term bottom line.

From increasing the speed and accuracy of work orders to automating paperwork and documents that integrate with CPQ/CRM, utilizing a digital document solution in the manufacturing space is essential. It will lead to better predictability in business. By integrating these technologies in your business, you’ll be able to take highly complex product configurations and customer info to then display in a well-organized digital document.

So if you haven’t already transitioned to a digital landscape, what are you waiting for? You need to transition from paper-based workflows to digital-first documents. Why is this important? Digital documents are easier to create, edit, share, sign and manage. This allows for streamlined document workflows for things such as templates, integrations with source systems and online document collaborations. And, of course, the implementation of e-signature services.

It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 50 times the digital content compared to what exists today. Big data analysis becomes increasingly difficult and time-consuming as the digitized manufacturer struggles to manage, update, and analyze product and consumer information. This is leading many businesses to turn to software platforms that store, manage and process documents, specifically specialized software that allows interactions with your CRM, CPQ, ERP, ATS and HCM. By implementing these systems, multiple steps can be eliminated in the document workflow. This means more time back to your teams, and that means enhanced productivity, more resources and often increased bottom lines. Making your organization more effective and efficient by employing faster and simpler working methods is key.

As technology has improved and become more integrated in every element of our life, especially the workplace, the way businesses create documents has also evolved and improved. Document creation, sharing, signature and storage in a single location reduces “paper” steps. And fewer steps means more time and productivity for manufacturing teams.

David Kerr is CEO of Octiv.

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