I've spent the last year and a half talking to manufacturers about Industry 4.0 implications and learning the ins and outs of the industrial space. Robin Dechant’s article “Industry 4.0 - Reinventing the Factory Stack” hits the nail on the head. Industry 4.0 transformation is opening the door for tech companies to capitalize on a historically tech-immature industry.
Dechant quotes Jeffrey Immelt, former CEO of General Electric, “Industrial companies are feeling the increasing pressure to adapt to the changing environment.” His article goes on to expertly describe how a new industrial paradigm is evolving and forcing adaptation. I found the section on shifts to service based business models especially interesting.
One observation is the absence of the sales channel in this and other similar analyses. Dechant mentions beating competition by differentiation through building “interfaces, API’s, [shared] data with suppliers and customers to work collaboratively on more efficient processes.” His point is well-made, but there is another point to be made: sales can (and should) drive digital transformation. Analysts are ignoring an industry-wide conversation about how modern SaaS tech, on the revenue side of industrial businesses, can better connect the manufacturer with the buyer. Modern, digital sales environments (like our QuoteBooks Cloud) offer real-time buyer and seller data that can power better decision-making. Reinventing the 'Industrial Sales Stack' can drive the same benefits as Industry 4.0 has forced on the shop floor.
Change is happening and the companies that adapt and evolve with that change are going to win. It is essential that the sales channel is part of the evolution.