The big issue: acting on pressure from OEMs
Here’s what we consider a top issue that’s driving automotive manufacturers to adopt new technologies that in turn help them optimize business processes. Supply chains are no longer linear, and they are in fact turning into demand chains that work as a tiered network, where manufacturers collaborate with a plethora of suppliers, distributors, even other major manufacturers. To simplify, we’ll put original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as the lead players in a demand network that is being squeezed by customer needs, trends, and buying patterns. Out of necessity, they’re continuously pressuring automotive manufacturers to reduce costs, increase output, improve quality, and deliver more frequently. Manufacturers are doing the same with their suppliers and distributors. If companies aren’t keeping pace with the best sales and product configurators available, they’ll be out of the race.
Solution: Combine Microsoft Dynamics with the e-Con Sales and Product Configurator
Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions are designed to adapt quickly to industry-specific needs. Among many essential capabilities, they offer built-in integration with the e-Con Sales and Product configurator. Along with giving customers a vivid, flawless sales experience, e-Con enables manufacturers to reduce time to market, improve plant floor production, and link supply chains/demand networks more effectively to production.
Improve operations and reduce costs
The automotive industry has always worked with extremely tight profit margins that can be as low as 3-4% over cost. For decades, the saving grace was the stretch of time between the launch of new models—that shrunk from a decade in some cases to a few years. Manufacturers have no time to define the most cost-effective development process, suppliers, distributors, even campaigns. In addition, many need to revamp operations to accommodate more outsourcing, more channels for working with a high volume of dispersed stakeholders, role-based access to data and analysis coming from internal teams, suppliers, competitors, customers.
Take those challenges to e-Con—this is the tool that lets you smooth out and standardize complexity so that it seems relatively simple:
- Model versioning and a modeling studio that doesn’t require deep programming skills reduce time pressures, and enable concurrent maintenance /enhancement of current models. New Models can be created more quickly with help of wizards. Packaged model information can be re-used.
- Project calculators can work quickly to define appropriate suppliers and fabricators, taking into account factors such as cost, location, ability to create eco-friendly materials (example response to trend demands). They can also provide hard knowledge about timelines, potential supply issues—key factors for meeting tight deadlines.
- e-Con’s overarching strength is that it connects and integrates the entire quote through production process. Along with a rules engine that “rules” what products and options are possible, e-Con lets sales teams serve as the front end for quotes that are smoothly processed into orders with BOMs and routings. No production delays. Even a knowledge base with information that gives quick answers to all teams. For more than a decade, we’ve helped companies balance speed, cost, and quality—absolutely essential to today’s automotive players.
Develop profitable customer relationships
So you’ve established an operational backbone that’s poised to meet customer demands. Now use e-Con to work with customers and combine satisfaction—even a great buying experience—with precise knowledge about profit margins.
- Companies need to take advantage of e-Con’s business intelligence capabilities—it’s easy to pull reports relevant to customers buying trends, biggest customers, sales wins for established products and new opportunities, specific customer knowledge, deadline demands, after-service requests—name your product angle.
- Real-time is a term that may be a bit over-used, so let’s say e-Con data is always fresh, with changes entered either in Dynamics or the configurator instantly updated across both systems. Sales will know what’s available, what isn’t, whether prices have changed.
- Just as important, when they work with customers to configure products, pricing is automatically and continuously updated, and standardized discounts can be applied with certainty. The e-Con HTML5 interface is a cool tool with dynamic product visuals, responsive design for multiple devices and single-click conversion of quotes to orders—if your product is good, you’re going to impress your customer.
Build connections to suppliers and vendors
We’ve touched briefly on the change form a more linear supply chain to a demand network that can collaborate more freely with multiple companies and exchange information more easily. It’s an extremely interesting movement—we encourage you to learn more.
Demand networks are all about connection that facilitates quicker analysis of and response to customer demand. Just a few examples:
- e-Con offers centralized data that lives in Dynamics as well as the configurator, and that can be accessed by any stakeholder with rights—internal teams, vendors, suppliers, distributors, OEMS. Information is real-time and saves countless hours for answering requests.
- If you have relevant rights, you can update information via web-portal whether you’re internal or external to the organization. No double entry, no entry into silos, no telephone updates that reach only a few people.
- Among many other examples, e-Con connects suppliers, vendors, dealers worldwide, with built-in capabilities for working with multiple languages and automatically applying region-specific regulations, currencies, pricing, and more.