Introduction

According to an International Data Corporation (IDC) survey, 97% of “digitally determined”organizations want fully connected processes across their entire business, yet only 5% are entirely integrated.¹

This presents a massive opportunity for change and improvement! A transformation requires the appropriate digital tools and platforms that drive advancement in connectivity and a heightened focus on the customer. This paper outlines a progression that is beginning to take hold in the manufacturing sector – best-in-class companies leveraging digital ecosystems to strengthen key business relationships, grow revenue, and forge valuable customer interactions.

Terminology such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0 (I 4.0), and Smart Manufacturing are everywhere these days and conjure up images of fully mechanized, autonomous shop floors. These efficiencies are critical for most organizations, but their impact on the customer is indirect. The reality is that modern technology is radically transforming how all manufacturers do business and drive revenue not only inside, but outside the factory walls as well.

Tesla, as an example, utilizes Industry 4.0 principles to gain efficiencies inside their manufacturing organization, while also ensuring that current and future customers have direct contact with the brand like never before.

Before Tesla, car buyers never even considered their car as a digital device. Now, automobile owners expect technology updates that enrich the driving experience on their current model in real-time. Enthusiasts exchange ideas in online forums, and expert tutorials populate YouTube, leading the brand to receive quick and direct consumer feedback. This digital experience and network effect strengthens the brand’s presence, connectedness, and credibility with customers.