Data is only good if you can use it. This sounds simple but metals manufacturers understand the underlying truth in this message. The challenge is taking a seemingly infinite amount of data and making it usable in a short period of time. Incorporating an analytics solution specifically tailored for the metals industry, into your ERP system will help you to turn the raw data produced by the ERP into actionable insights to help you streamline operations, increases productivity and reduces costs.
Analytics enables you to dig further into data associations from any number of data sources and make sense of what you’re looking at. It’s time to use analytics to understand the “whys” that drive your business’ success.
Examples of how metals manufacturers benefit from analytics:
The term “scrap” typically implies unwanted leftovers or rusted junk material. In the metals business however, scrap actually points to a multi-billion dollar industry around recycling and reusability. Analytics can help you to understand where and when scrap is being produced, along with other associations such as product, gauge, hardness or even operators and shifts, so that you can quickly determine where you have opportunities to recover your scrap losses, and improve your overall usage.
While scrap is one piece of the puzzle, it is important to understand all of the yield losses resulting from your process. Some losses, such as scrap or kerf losses from cutting cannot be avoided, but with analytics you can determine when and where those losses exceed standard, and most importantly determine why and ultimately take action to improve your yields. Having a streamlined solution that helps to recognize losses in production (recoverable and non-recoverable) will help ensure maximized productivity in your business.
Imagine if a car were to flip because of a piece of defective metal that came directly from your plant. Because the wreck was out of the driver’s hands, the person that owns the car will most likely sue. To prepare for the lawsuit, it is imperative to have your ducks in a row and know exactly where the faulty metal came from.
An analytics solution can dive into the details and will trace the metal back to the exact date, heat and machine it was produced on. In case of any potential recalls on a specific piece of metal, a lawsuit, or any other occurrence, having the capability to trace metals back to square one is necessary for cost savings and increased productivity. But even more important, analytics can help you understand why the problem happens, and then proactively trace down other materials with similar characteristics.
Remember “back in the day” when we actually knew dates and phone numbers by heart, read a physical map for directions or even stopped and paid a quarter to use the payphone. Thanks to digital disruption – a term coined by Forrester Research, all of this information is now at our fingertips. The phrase “back in the day” seems irrelevant because we are living fast and in the moment, always one step ahead. Technology can help us to make smarter, timelier decisions.
However, sometimes our fast-paced, digitally advanced lifestyles can create quite a bit of noise and distraction. The distraction takes away from our attention span and before we know it, we’re subconsciously moving on to the next step before even finishing the last one. As a consumer, we know we do this. As a seller on the other hand, we need to think about slowing down. That doesn’t mean get rid of distracting technology. It means understand how to use technology to your advantage with your target demographic and get back to the basics with your customers. It means ensuring that the customer experience is consistent and fluent across customer touch points. How do you get attention and attract people to your community and/or your website? Once they’re there, how do you keep them interested? You may have the tools, but consistency is the key.
Identify your customer touch points
It is critical to recognize your customer touch points by tracking your customer journey and determining the key touch points where customers connect with your brand. While there’s no one-size-fits-all list of touch points, it’s important to include points across all channels. Here is a set of examples for home builders:
|Before Purchase||During Purchase||After Purchase|
|Word of mouth||Open house opportunities||Service calls|
|Community involvement||Promotions||Follow ups|
|Advertising/Marketing/PR||Phone/Email interaction||Handwritten thank you notes|
Identifying key customer touch points and staying consistent each time provides a user experience that your buyers can appreciate. To identify the touch points that make sense for your brand, take a second to step out of your role and into the customer’s shoes. When you walk yourself through the customer’s journey and understand the total customer lifecycle – attract, sell, service - all the pieces should become pretty clear.
The easy customization capabilities of a modern CRM system can be a blessing and a curse. As simple as it is to tailor the software to a company’s unique sales process, it’s equally easy to pollute the database with data fields and expect sales reps to capture everything from a customer’s dog’s name to his favorite college football team. Once you throw in the fields that marketing and customer service organizations want to track as well, you’ll end up inundating your sales reps with a data entry nightmare they’re sure to avoid. Instead, follow these simple guidelines and let your salespeople get back to what’s most important – selling.
Understand what you want the end customer experience to be
Each brand has a different target audience and offers a different customer experience. Maybe you’re selling a quite home in a retirement community or showing a five bedroom, three bath family home in the suburbs. Maybe you’re selling a studio loft in the heart of the city. Each market requires a different experience. They key is consistency –
Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice’s report Applying Digital humanism to Customer Experience Design, published May 12, 2015 suggests that “chances are that the customer would share more information with the employee than the organization as a whole. The opportunity for an organization is to apply digital workplace strategies to empower its staff to create connections with its customers that are impossible without meaningful connections existing between people.”
Finally, please take a minute to slow down
It’s no longer “back in the day”, it’s the twenty-first century and digital disruptions aren’t going anywhere. Don’t fight against technology to stand out, work with it instead. Use technology to understand the customer life-cycle but add in a few simple, personal touches along the way, like a quick follow-up phone call rather than a standard email or maybe even a handwritten thank you note. It may be important to know the name of your customer’s dog or their favorite college football team but I would argue that it is more important to create separation from the noise by differentiating yourself. It’s important is to slow down and know what will give your customer an experience that will not only encourage them to spread the word, but will also have them coming back.
 Help your buyer find their dream home with a tailored customer experience| Residential Pros, Matt Keenan, Feb 9, 2015
Bringing Back the Human Factor to Manufacturing
In an age of increasing technological sophistication in manufacturing processes, its people are the most important and valuable resource a company possesses. The human element is what dictates true operational efficiency – that is, if it can be optimally integrated into a business’ production practices.
Uniting the people to the process
Having effective MES software is not just about trusting your staff to oversee the production processes; it is about empowering your staff with an MES that specifically spotlights their abilities and personal performance levels. This approach is known as ‘human MES’.
The Best Human MES
The best human MES solution gets operators involved from the start and makes it easy to use the system. Everyone understands the need for the system, and is in no doubt about “what’s in it for them”. Being a part of the MES solution removes any morale-sapping doubts that result from lack of transparency between factory floor and management. It also gives staff the personal satisfaction of knowing that their actions have made a sincere difference to the company.
The MES software itself should automatically:
More than Software
A human MES solution is designed to be more than just a software system. It encourages a holistic approach to refining the manufacturing processes. A human MES encourages communication and operational optimization based on the intelligence achieved through the integration of the human and the machine.
Big Data, aka the biggest challenge facing organizations everywhere, isn’t going away anytime soon. According to IBM, every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. To give you an idea of what that may look like, one terabyte alone is the equivalent of 4.5 million books — overwhelming to think about, especially for healthcare providers.
From medical charts and prescriptions to financial and insurance information, patients generate a lot of data throughout their lifetimes. Some of that data is structured. However, even within sophisticated healthcare organizations, most of it — paper documents, ad hoc emails, data created through monitoring devices, for example — is not. As healthcare moves toward more of an evidence based model, data will play more of an instrumental role. Now more than ever, it’s important for healthcare providers to realize organizational success has less to do with how much data they gather and more to do with how data is utilized.
Planning Makes Perfect
To improve patient outcomes, healthcare providers must plan appropriately and develop a comprehensive strategy for gathering and utilizing data. For starters, everyone — including the care team and senior executives — should reflect on how they would respond to the following questions regarding data management:
To view the full article from Andre and Lori, please visit Health IT Outcomes.
VSMPO-Tirus, U.S., which offers sales, distribution and service center processing for the world’s largest titanium manufacturer VSMPO-AVISMA, has selected Aptean Axis ERP to bring all of its U.S. operations onto the same software platform. VSMPO launched the first of their planned implementations of Axis ERP on August 1, 2015 and will complete the rollout to their other facilities in 2016.
VSMPO selected Axis ERP to increase accuracy and speed in their transactions while providing real-time material information to improve inventory turnover and control. The ability to track materials throughout the manufacturing and distribution process, “birth to shipment,” along with the usability and ease of implementation were key factors in VSMPO’s decision to choose Axis ERP.
“Axis ERP was designed specifically for the metal manufacturing and distribution industry, and this industry expertise meant we could be up and running on a new system with minor modifications, setting Aptean apart from the competition,” said VSMPO President, Michael Metz. “We are able to replace our outgrown legacy systems with a solution that can meet our current and future needs, while standardizing our ERP solution across the company. We are looking forward to achieving the same success we experienced with the first implementation as we bring additional facilities onto the Axis ERP system.”
To learn more about VSMPO's plans with Axis ERP and to understand how Axis ERP contributes to the long-term success of companies, click here to view the full press release.
2016 CRM PREDICTIONS, AS PUBLISHED IN CRM MAGAZINE -
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions are entrenched standards in today’s modern, enterprise ecosystem. Organizations and users have come to expect that their CRM system is a core part of day to day responsibilities and in many cases serve as a key system of truth regarding a wide variety of business metrics. Unfortunately, the value, impact, and accuracy of the CRM system comes into question as employees compare their experience with their CRM system with technologies that they use on a daily basis in their personal lives.
With that challenge as the backdrop, we look to the top trends emerging in 2016 to answer the challenge. Trend predictions are useful to investigate as you look ahead to how your organization should operate in the upcoming years. What to do with these predictions in 2016 will be the key to your organization’s success this year and every year in the foreseeable future.
CRM solutions will be forced to become more intuitive as users demand an interface that includes best-practice usability from the current market leading consumer websites, thus eliminating the need for lengthy training to learn how to use the system. Users no longer need a training course or extensive manual to complete an online purchase, book a flight, etc. Instead, the user will be able to perform these simple tasks easily within their system. Designing CRM solutions with an experience that empowers the user is an important shift toward the increased adoptability of CRM solutions.
MEASURES OF PERSONAL VALUE
Simply collecting a vast array of numerical data from a CRM solution won’t make businesses smarter or salespeople more productive. CRM ROI will no longer be viewed primarily on the organizational level as the “Age of the User” is now in full effect. The user will determine the true value of the CRM solution based on their individual productivity gains and insight it brings to their job each day. Successful CRM solutions will be measured by the personal value they bring to the user first and the value they bring to the organization second.
MICRO-MOMENTS OF PRODUCTIVITY
In the digital age of things, relationships between machines and people are becoming increasingly competitive. Smart machines (i.e. smartphones, tablets, etc.) are acquiring the capabilities to perform more and more daily activities at a fast pace. The best CRM solutions will become integrated into the daily work life of a user, almost taking on more of a co-worker role rather than just added technology, allowing the user to access and input information whenever and wherever. In this mobile and hyper connected world, the user expects to have quick and seamless access to CRM data and analytics whether from their smartphone, tablet or desktop. The top CRM systems will deliver micro-moments of productivity and insight at the user’s point of access, enabling them to move at an extraordinary velocity. Adapting to the fast-paced user environment is critical to being proactive and making impactful business decisions.
With significant changes in the user’s personal adaptation of their CRM solution, there won’t be much rest in the year ahead for CRM professionals. Instead rather, there will be a fresh crop of new opportunities to consider. Keeping user experience, personal value of the solution, and the pace in which the digital age contributes to in mind will keep CRM professionals at the forefront in 2016.
As we welcome in 2016, I would also like to welcome you to Aptean's new Blog. Our intention is to share thought-provoking insights and advice from our team of enterprise software experts, inform you about new releases and highlight stories from customers who are utilizing Aptean solutions to run their businesses more effectively and profitably. If you want to look back at some of our more historic posts, you can find them in the archives.
If there are other topics that you would like us to cover in the Blog, please email your ideas to email@example.com.
Senior Director, Global Marketing
Jack Payne, the VP of Solution Consulting at Aptean, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share their insight on the intersection of sales, marketing, and technology. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.
In this episode we discuss everything from the future of ERP, how food service companies can benefit from software, and the state of food service policy.
Below are a few highlights from our conversation:
TechnologyAdvice: How can regulations help reduce sickness?
Jack Payne: There’s a combination of regulations. There are both government and industry regulations. Most people have heard about the Food Safety Monetization Act that was passed three years ago. Prior to this, there was the Global Food Safety Initiative, which was more of an industry initiative prompted by the major food retailers.
Companies such as Walmart and other large retailers were concerned about the safety of food they were selling to their customers. The consumers came together to put regulations and requirements in place. So as a food manufacturer, if you wanted to sell to these companies, you had to meet the requirements they set up.
Food safety is something that has become more of a topic as published year round recalls and the health risk and accidents have occurred. In fact, there are quite a number of people that get sick and die from food safety problems in the US.
TA: Explain how software can help reduce the amount of food sickness?
Payne: There are two main areas of food safety. Prevention and response. In all instances, you want to prevent a problem that implements certain processes and procedures. The term for this is referred to as HVCC. As a food manufacturer, you need to evaluate your process, the flow of product and materials coming in, the processing of products, and the flow of materials going out. Then determine every point there is a possible contamination area or place where food safety problems could exist.
Once these have been determined, you need to find the processes that need to be put in place to prevent food safety issues. Once that process has been determined, software systems can help with this, in terms of purchasing qualified suppliers and making sure they’re qualified. Also, what incoming processes are being performed? For example, a meat product would need to come in at a certain temperature, and there needs to be certain sending/receiving products themselves and certain processes for handling.
These are all ways we can work within our process, and the steps are taken and the results are within acceptable limits. If the results aren’t good, we can prevent that product from being used in manufacturing and continue to go in the process to track and monitor. Anytime something is out of predefined limits we can keep it on hold. There’s also the environmental aspect as well, proper sanitation, ensuring certain bacteria isn’t present in the workplace.
These are all things that can be done as part of the preventative maintenance side. We can set up alerts for whenever situations go outside the tolerances or when something does not occur. Tests for bacteria should occur, and we should be alerted and notified if that doesn’t happen.
We want to prevent a problem with food safety to start with, but if something does get out into the marketplace, the response time is critical. We need to notify those customers in a timely matter to recall those products off the shelves.
TA: What are some challenges for ERP?
Payne: ERP is a very large term so when you talk about finding an enterprise resource planning system, it’s not just in a particular department. Going back to traceability, there’s receiving, inventory, receiving, customer complaints, etc. ERP is proving the tools to control all the activities and actions.
As companies have more demands in terms of competition, they’re looking for ways to improve efficiency and cost, they need to be able to continue to provide the capability to do so. The other thing is it’s a more mature product. In the past it was viewed as a complex process that required fairly extensive training. Also they need to be business analysts and see how the parts fit together. Look at tech as a consumer.
If you go out and buy new technology, how many people read the user's manual? Everyone just reads the quick start guide. The expectations are to just start using it. That’s where ERP needs to go and be more in touch with social media trends to provide information to users rather than having to ask them what they need to get from it.
Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.
This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.
In January we were given some outstanding news—Respond was selected as one of CUSTOMER magazine’s Products of the Year! Receiving the award from a magazine focused entirely on the CUSTOMER certainly means a lot to us, as everything we do, every version, every update, is geared to driving more value for our customers. Our customers, and their customers! Respond was launched in the United States exactly 12 months ago and we’ve made significant strides since that launch, including notable customer wins with companies like Volkswagen Financial Services, our growing voice in the importance of compliance and of course the launches of 5.11 and 6.0 in just a few months. As a tier 1 enterprise solution, Respond has also seen validation from industry analysts, specifically Renee Murphy from Forrester Research, who included us in her July 2014 report “Listen To Your Customers To Meet Financial Regulations--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Is Changing The Face Of Customer Care.” A key takeaway from her research:
“Leverage technology to manage and report on customer complaints. The CFPB requires that covered firms manage customer complaints centrally across all lines of business to create a holistic view of common issues and metrics. This is nearly impossible without some kind of software to facilitate complaint management workflows, documentation, and reporting.”
This is the essence of what Respond does for our customers, and we’re thrilled that Renee has taken a leadership role in the analyst community regarding companies working with the CFPB and finding improvements to the complaints management process that can be applied across every industry. We’ll have additional exciting Respond news coming in the months to come as the new launches are prepared, but for now this CUSTOMER award is a chance to take a moment and reflect on how far we’ve come as we look towards a bright future for Respond and the growing voice of customers everywhere.
The 2014 Aptean Consumer Complaints Compass is the first research study of its kind to dig into how organizations are reacting to the CFPB and what U.S. financial service executives think the impact will be on consumers. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB supervises banks with more than $10 billion in assets, as well as certain nonbanks including mortgage companies, private student loan lenders and payday lenders.
Below, you can check out some of the findings of the
study, along with a fun infographic. The full survey report is available for