If you are like most manufacturers or industrial companies, you probably have already made some investments in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 technologies. It is still in the early days but it is only a matter of time when the digital and physical worlds integrate and smart automation powered by data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are prevalent throughout the business.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the term coined by the German government to represent the fourth industrial revolution, in which machines have the ability to communicate and interact with each other. By merging the physical and digital world (cyber-physical), Industry 4.0 promises to deliver less costly, more efficient use of assets by analyzing data to improve decision making about the use of resources.
Although still in its infancy, new technologies such as IIoT, AI, and predictive and prescriptive analytics are finding their way into manufactures and industrial firms. Even though you may view these technology investments as internal operational advancements, it will also extend to customer-facing functions and have a significant impact on your marketing and sales strategies.
The integration of the physical and digital worlds of marketing and sales will also collide and transform how you market and sell your products. New data gathered through intelligent products will enable a deeper understanding of customers. Data that is collected and analyzed from connected systems will enable companies to enhance the customer experience, develop new direct selling and marketing strategies, and better enable companies and their partners to offer post-sales support to customers, strengthening your brand and customer relationship.
What does this mean today for your marketing and sales teams?
Industry 4.0 is essentially turning manufacturers into digital enterprises. It will take time for Industry 4.0 to become reality throughout the organization. However, as marketers, you need to assess your current digital infrastructure and how it will need to evolve to support a digital enterprise.
Here are four takeaways that you can address today to lay the foundation of your digital marketing and sales programs.
- Create a sales-ready website - Digitally connected customers won’t buy from laggards. Consumer buying behavior has already changed the way people buy in B2B. Depending on which stats you want to believe, anywhere from 67-94% of the B2B buying cycle is already conducted online. If it is hard to get information or buy from you, the buyer will move on to another vendor.
- Define new personas - New players enter the buying cycle for all connected products. Since everything is now connected and data is now a valuable asset, CIOs, IT Director, IT Tech become decision makers and influencers in the buying journey.
- Develop a thought leadership program - The new players behave differently than traditional engineering buyers. They look for different types of content. Engineers care about technical specifications, quality, and performance while IT looks at cost, partnering capabilities, reputation and security.
- Implement an inbound marketing program - Inbound and Industry 4.0 go hand-in-hand. both rely on data; both aim to improve the buying experiences of your customers. With new players in your buying cycle, you will need to shift your strategies and tactics. Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that brings people to your company and products by generating interest and demand. Educative and valuable content will attract the right people to your website and show them why you are the best fit for them.