Salesforce goes vertical with manufacturing and consumer goods 'clouds'

Salesforce goes vertical with manufacturing and consumer goods 'clouds'

Idea is to bundle core CRM product with intelligent features from Einstein portfolio

Credit: Dreamstime

Salesforce is pushing forward with its strategy of packaging elements of its software-as-a-service (SaaS) stack for specific industries, with the launch of Consumer Goods Cloud for the retail industry and Manufacturing Cloud this week.

The idea is to bundle its core customer relationship management (CRM) product with intelligent features from the Einstein portfolio and other pieces of the Salesforce stack to appeal directly to the challenges of specific industries.

Manufacturing Cloud

Focusing on the Manufacturing Cloud first, Salesforce is aiming to bring together its CRM with Einstein analytics to give manufacturers more intelligent forecasting capabilities to boost efficiency.

One core feature of the platform is a new approach to sales agreements that bring together a customer's run-rate business with data in their ERP and order management systems. This allows operations and account teams to align around customer agreements, and make sure the business is on track to meet those requirements.

Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing will also provide account managers with account health, demand insights, product penetration and sales agreement progress metrics, along with recommended actions to keep those relationships strong.

Pilot customers for Manufacturing Cloud included Kawasaki, Hitachi Chemical and CF Industries.

“In the manufacturing industry, changing customer and market demands can have a devastating effect on the bottom line, so being able to understand what is happening on the ground is imperative for success,” Cindy Bolt, SVP and GM for Salesforce Manufacturing said.

“Manufacturing Cloud bridges the gap between sales and operations teams while ensuring more predictive and transparent business, so they can build deeper and more trusted relationships with their customers.”

Manufacturing Cloud and Einstein Analytics for manufacturing will be generally available in October, 2019.

Consumer Goods Cloud

The other announcement was for Consumer Goods Cloud, which is targeted at retail and consumer goods companies to combat challenges around retail execution, or getting the right products to the right stores at the right time.

The solution promises to digitise a process that is often still managed on spreadsheets or on paper by field reps. It includes a prioritised list of stores to visit, and a host of Einstein-powered features to optimise product placements and inventory checks.

“Retail execution remains one of the most important pieces of a consumer goods brand’s strategy, but so much opportunity is wasted if the field rep doesn’t have the data and technology needed to make smart decisions,” said John Strain, GM and SVP for retail and consumer goods at Salesforce.

“Consumer Goods Cloud provides these field reps with the tools they need to be successful on the ground, while helping build both business opportunities and stronger relationships with their retail partners.”

Consumer Goods Cloud will be generally available on 15 October 2019, followed by Einstein Analytics for Consumer Goods in February 2020.

Four years in the making

The first vertical solution launched by Salesforce was aimed at the financial services industry in August 2015, closely followed by the Health Cloud.

A year later during the vendor’s Dreamforce conference, Rohit Mahna, general manager of financial services at Salesforce, said: “In banking everyone is thinking about getting this 360-degree view of customers to become trusted advisors. In insurance it is about the policy holder and creating a seamless claims experience. In wealth management we help teams create a 'one team' mentality to get time back to spend with clients.”

In terms of specific use cases Mahna talked about relationship managers being able to discover relationships among their client book that they weren't aware of, or marketing teams making predictions around when a customer is likely to buy a new product. Bank of America and Farmers Insurance are two early customers of the Financial Services Cloud.

Charlie Richey, head of product at Bank of America, said: “We pay attention to the data we have access to, so transactional data like if their pay cheque deposits are rising, and listening on social channels like LinkedIn to see if they got a promotion.”

By pulling this information into Marketing Cloud, Bank of America can start to deliver tailored messaging to, say, enter its rewards programme, or increase monthly deposits into a savings account.

Co-CEO of the SaaS vendor Keith Block has long favoured industry-specific solutions designed to appeal to enterprises that are running legacy technology, especially as the company works towards an ambitious $20 billion run rate target.

Speaking on an investor call in 2017, Block asserted that "around the world, speaking the language of our customers is giving us incredible momentum," as the firm announced that of all the customer adopting these industry clouds, 57 per cent were new to Salesforce in Q3, a key metric when it comes to growing the software's footprint.

At the time, Block said the financial services and health products were "the tip of the iceberg", however we didn't see another industry solution reach the market until the two announced this week, nearly three years later.

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