CRM, the first step on an automotive supplier’s digital journey

The Digital Age is firmly upon us and we cannot avoid the daily references to the absolute need for, and benefits of, digital transformation. It has been noted that digitalization is now a cultural norm where organizations use digital to improve efficiency and the customer experience to gain new levels of competitive advantage. Digital progress is also seen as a key factor for attracting and retaining talent.[1]

High performing companies do not only seek to build new digital businesses but equally focus on digitizing legacy operations. The crucial task of digitally transforming the core business enables higher effectiveness in leading transformation across the business, automating business processes, developing analytics and deploying advanced digital technologies (such as Artificial Intelligence).[2]

For the automotive supplier industry in general, it is important to initially focus and implement digital technologies on existing businesses. This, in turn, allows the companies to build agility and prepare for larger changes in the future. A comprehensive digital strategy should focus on targeted benefits to the organization and customer focus is always a good place to start. Improving business acquisition, customer retention or customer profitability are all typical goals for the digital roadmap of the Sales organization and therefore a CRM system becomes the natural first step on the journey.

A well-planned digital CRM strategy unleashes huge potential in all these areas:

  • Transform processes as well as technology
  • Design lean and efficient processes
  • Automate business processes
  • Develop analytics capabilities
  • Exploit data in decision making and processes
  • Structured data formats for future application of cognitive / AI technologies

Driving further along the Sales digital roadmap and using advanced CRM solution functionalities, the further opportunities come into view:

  • Process automation: Quote configuration and creation, Price confirmation and Order processing, …
  • Sales Forecasting: Forecast simulation, Forecast generation, …
  • Advanced Analytics: Plausibility reports (integrated with ERP), Customer sourcing behavior, Opportunity prioritization, …
  • Marketing: Marketing and campaign automation, …
  • Innovation: Implementation of innovative/disruptive business models using an agile approach, …

As Ray Wang wisely stated, “Digital Darwinism is unkind to those who wait”. For automotive suppliers and Sales organizations in particular, a comprehensive digital CRM strategy is a natural first step to ensure survival of the fittest.

[1] G. C. Kane, D. Palmer, A. N. Phillips, D. Kiron and N. Buckley, “Strategy, Not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation” MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte University Press, July 2015
[2] McKinsey Digital, “Mastering the duality of digital: How companies withstand disruption”, September 2019