Like any industry, data integration for manufacturing is essential to streamline operations, improve real-time decision-making, and enhance client satisfaction. Unlike most industries, real-time performance monitoring and continuous process improvement aren’t just helpful – it’s the dividing line between profitable and unprofitable manufacturing companies.
The urgency of bridging data silos is universally felt, as almost every company has invested in some kind of data initiative. Still, far from that, many believe they have an adequate command of that data. As we’ll explore, the secret to data integration for manufacturers is to automate their information sharing, just as they’ve done for their physical manufacturing processes. In other words, RevOps data integration is now more than a good idea; it’s become necessary to remain competitive.
Why Data Integration for Manufacturing Matters
Manufacturers depend on meticulous facility operations, complete with data-intensive quality controls, CNC machine programming, and the ability to change workflows on a dime. However, similar data-integration challenges for supplier and client relationships must be painstakingly accounted for before these technical operations can be fully exploited.
Functioning as an Orchestrated System
The IT principles behind a manufacturer’s product design and fabrication processes strongly reflect a similar need to share sales- and supplier-related data quickly and efficiently. Further, data must be actionable the instant it reaches its intended destination. In the simplest terms, data integration comes down to an enduring need for both:
- Efficient, contextually relevant data sharing
- Automated data sanitization
Manufacturers invariably know this regarding mechanics, as they depend on timely, accurate data to safely and efficiently run their equipment. The same principles apply to customer and vendor relationships with few exceptions.
Because the business side of manufacturing involves no shortage of variables, it’s easy to believe that achieving similar levels of business data accuracy and utility is impossible. While that may have been the case in previous decades, it’s no longer valid with real-time application syncing – but how does properly integrated customer data translate to operational efficiencies?
Virtual Solutions to Physical Challenges
More than any other industry, manufacturing relies on perfect clarity of customer and supplier relationships to maintain suitable raw materials, adjust workflows and manufacturing equipment correctly, and allocate labor for maximum efficiency. Failure to do any of these things in concert with real-time data could lead to costly downtime and missed deliverables.
How Poorly Integrated Data Causes Communications Gaps
At the heart of proper data integration is communication. Data silos affect more than historical data, as the same type of rifts appears in an organization’s daily communications. For instance, if product teams can’t see which leads the sales team interacts with, they can’t prioritize suitable projects. This could compromise essential scheduling requirements, such as delivery timing for raw materials and packaging, hurting efficiency and stalling revenue growth.
In reverse, sales teams could be chasing leads out of step with current manufacturing capabilities unless product teams can quickly tell them about material shortages and limited production capabilities. In numerous ways, seemingly minor data-sharing issues can lead to significant manufacturing or customer-relations issues.
Unknowns Can’t Be Solved
If muddled data prevents even one team from seeing their current obstacles, it’s doubtful they’ll know enough to communicate the issue. Teams can’t adjust to each other, and everyone wastes time without knowing it until some unexplained revenue loss gets everyone’s attention.
A need to continually sanitize data could distract teams from effectively communicating about the causes of dirty data in the first place. Key decision makers might know there’s some kind of problem but not know what to do besides expend vital problem-solving time trying to find out what the problem is. In manufacturing, determining what to troubleshoot isn’t troubleshooting; it’s simply playing catch up.
Meanwhile, interdepartmental collaboration breaks down, with one team waiting on another to figure out which tasks will break the cycle and start directly generating revenue again. Said otherwise, if one team loses a clear direction, it’s likely the other teams will also.
The Cause of Dirty Data
According to Forbes, an astonishing 27% of business leaders don’t know how much of their data is accurate. It leaves companies vulnerable to decision paralysis, which is better than the alternative (mindlessly risking resources). Naturally, there’s a tremendous urge to know what went wrong.
Dirty data comes in many forms, most commonly:
- Redundancies, including duplicate customer or vendor records (do you have multiple sales instances across multiple geolocations?)
- Inaccuracies, such as incorrect values entered into a field (how many of your data-entry processes are manual, and which ones can be automated?)
- Inconsistencies, as when some records aren’t included in system syncs, leading to only partial updates (could an entire data silo have gone sight-unseen, never being synced?)
- Expired data, like customer records that aren’t auto-updated after new interactions (are your sales, marketing, and support teams all operating with different customer profiles for the same individual?)
All these errors can be passed throughout the organization, eventually becoming “ironed in” and incredibly hard to remove. Further, if non-automated data processes led to these issues, it’s doubtful that manual efforts will resolve them.
The blessing in disguise is that what was lacking can, once embraced, resolve these issues and keep them from arising again.
Synchronizing Teams Through Synchronized Data
Just as manufacturing equipment must be calibrated, your teams must maintain a common reference point. When sales, marketing, and manufacturing processes are all synchronized to the same data repositories, workloads flow effortlessly between departments – just as your fabrication equipment functions as a highly coordinated, unified system and not separate machines running in tandem.
Your staff is that unified system waiting to happen. All they need is a permanent shift towards automated data integration, and that’s become astonishingly easy to achieve.
The Missing Piece: A Central Data-Management Network
Data integration for manufacturing can seem daunting, but if you’re already maintaining hair’s-breadth tolerance windows in your manufacturing runs, honing your data management is easy. All you need is a dedicated platform designed to pool data points of various formats, then share the information throughout a newly unified environment of native applications. You already do it with your physical manufacturing equipment; you just lack the tools for doing it with apps.
Routing leads, contacts, and accounts from CRMs and other business apps to specific partitions is the most efficient way to manage information across various locations. Multiple instances of the same app can also be handled this way because the unifying data-integration platform is format-agnostic.
Teams can finally focus on and discuss what the data represents rather than the data itself, which is only an abstraction of real business and manufacturing processes. This applies both downstream and upstream, to wit:
- Sales teams can achieve higher close rates based on insights received from marketing teams.
- Marketing teams begin nurturing leads more effectively, thanks to greater customer knowledge from support services.
- Product teams can see instantly when raw materials are coming.
- In full circle, clients receive fully reliable timeframes and are much more likely to commit to more future business.
Manufacturers show customers a unified front by maintaining the most up-to-date sales history and product interest records. Customer satisfaction and brand reputation increase, and manufacturers watch as their competitive edge cuts deeper into their market.
Related: How a Mid-Market Manufacturing Company Uses Vertify to Connect Marketo Engage With Multiple Dynamics CRMs
Closing the Loop on Data Integration for Manufacturing Companies
Ultimately, revenue doesn’t respect data silos, so neither should your RevOps strategy. If you’re grinding through inefficient data-sharing procedures, chances are, it’s an issue of compounding complexity.
As in physical manufacturing processes, the solution to cumbersome workflows is to refine and automate what’s already there. Individual processes must be integrated into a meaningful whole, leading to a site-wide system, not separate parts exerting force in different directions. The most tech-savvy small and mid-market manufacturers alike can achieve more with less through simple but powerful data integration for manufacturing facilities.
Vertify offers the broadest suite of automated data-integration solutions, complete with data-cleaning tools and automated multidirectional integration between countless native platforms. To match the gains you’ve achieved with properly synced manufacturing equipment via equally applied control of your data repositories, get started today, and see Vertify in action with your live data.