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Digital data collection shattering longstanding process gaps for manufacturers

  • October 27, 2016

Poor visibility into the channel has long held back manufacturers. In theory, manufacturers have been aware that getting better information from their partners in the channel can be valuable. The problem comes in practice, where gathering that data has been an expensive, cumbersome process.  Digital data collection from channel and other incentive transactions makes it possible for channel marketing professionals to work smarter and with continuous improvement.

Consider a simple reporting workflow based on traditional paper-based processes. Getting sales and inventory data from partners, gathering those documents, pulling out relevant data, comparing it with similar reports from other parts of your channel and unifying this information all needed to happen on paper. The result: Gathering information from the channel was so expensive and time-consuming that it wasn’t worth the effort.

Breaking down the process walls created by a dependence on paper-based data dissemination is possible with the digital tools available to businesses today. In the past, the high cost of solutions like enterprise resource planning limited data transparency, but modern cloud apps empower manufacturers to gather data from diverse sources without the same costs or technical overhead.

Digitizing data workflows and business processes can drive transparency in the channel, and many businesses are noticing the importance of getting paper out of the picture.

Digitizing data collection historically restricted to paper-based reports can pay dividends for manufacturers.Digitizing data historically restricted to paper-based reports can pay dividends for manufacturers.

Digital transformation changing processes
The Association for Information and Image Management recently released the results of a study that found organizations are putting a renewed focus on process management in light of the growing benefits of digital data collection. The cause-effect relationships is fairly straightforward: The ability to transmit data quickly and easily between diverse user groups opens new opportunities for process automation and optimization.

For a long time, reliance on paper has held businesses back. It has limited how quickly they can share data, how easily they can interact with stakeholders and even how ambitious they can get when working with partners. The key to achieving all this, however, depends on not only moving data into digital systems, but also keeping it there, the AIIM explained. This move to digital data collection injects a degree of creativity into processes, enabling organizations to move on from the status quo and develop innovative operational models.

Digital data collection is just a first step. A recent Diginomica report pointed out the goal is not just to move data off paper, but also to make it accessible and actionable for users. Strategies such as housing information in .PDFs and similar locations still keeps that information siloed. Transforming operations around data hinges on making it easy to communicate between diverse user groups.

Modern cloud apps and services make it easier for project stakeholders from disparate settings to share information seamlessly, empowering organizations to tackle longstanding challenges. For manufacturers, this means new opportunities to engage the channel and gain transparency into sales.

“Modern platforms create new opportunities to engage the channel.”

3 key advantages of modern channel incentives and analytics software
Gaining visibility into the channel, including details into everything ranging from inventory levels and sales to the results of incentive programs, can have a significant positive impact on operations. With this data, companies can more accurately predict demand for products, optimize production around sales results and fine-tune marketing plans to maximize revenue. All of these capabilities are the result of three key benefits that come with modern channel incentives and analytics software.

1. Flexibility
Manufacturers that don’t have immediate visibility into incentive programs and product performance in the channel face significant limitations. It isn’t possible to adjust plans if you don’t understand how those strategies perform in action. Easy access to data from the channel empowers manufacturers to add a layer of flexibility to their channel engagement strategies by using detailed information from throughout the channel to optimize operations in response to product performance.

2. Visibility
Data transparency is a major contributor to the flexibility we just discussed, but it also provides major advantages in other areas. For example, visibility into data from the channel enables manufacturers to:

  • Accurately project sales and manufacture goods accordingly.
  • Understand inventory levels to get a clear idea of assets residing in the channel.
  • Negate rebate fraud with transparency into actual sales results.

Easy access to data from the channel can leave manufacturers wondering how they got by without it.

3. Simplicity
Traditional software solutions, such as enterprise resource planning suites, often create technical complexity, leave users facing restrictive interfaces and heavy learning curves. Conversely, modern cloud apps are built around easy-to-navigate interfaces that simplify the end-user experience and make information accessible on a wide range of device types.

Paper-based processes have long limited manufacturers when it comes to their relationships in the channel. Transforming operations around digital data unlocks new functionality, and manufacturers have an opportunity to leverage modern tools to bring the full power of information to bear in the channel.

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