Industry 4.0 reshaping customer expectations for small businesses in Asia

To respond to Industry 4.0, SMBs must be able to meet customer demands 24/7

The world has started the transition into the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) – where the emergence of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, machine learning, and blockchain; has created a huge disruptive force for businesses that will level the playing field across industries.

The prevalence of Industry 4.0 in Asia is driving the region to become the next world's next economic common market after Europe. It's changing the face of customer relationships for businesses of all sizes, especially for small to medium businesses (SMBs) where technology is driving their success even though traditionally, they've not been able to access the same tools that gave enterprise businesses their edge over competitors. SMBs are showing a great deal of interest in leveraging technology solutions to provide greater flexibility and improved efficiency of services, as well as lowered production costs. Across Asia, SMBs have never been in a better position to succeed with record investment flowing into the region (they account for more than 50 percent of an ASEAN country's GDP; and up to 30 percent of its exports). 

To effectively respond to Industry 4.0, SMBs must be able to meet customer demands for seamless 24/7 operations. Connected customers are demanding smarter, faster, always-on experiences. The "State of the Connected Customer", Salesforce Research, June 2018 showed that 55 percent of B2B buyers say that AI is actively transforming their expectations of companies. It also revealed that 81 percent of B2B buyers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. 


Industry 4.0 is here right now in Asia.

Industry 4.0 has really paved the way for autonomous digital activity, inevitably affecting the way a company engages with its customers and tries to meet their demands. The relationship between a small business and their customer now stands on completely different grounds where the latter demands more information, access, interaction, and assistance. For SMBs to meet rising customer expectations, they need to provide relevant and personalized experiences but in order to do so, requires getting a single view of their customers on a cloud-based customer relationship management solution (CRM).

A CRM solution, underpinned by AI marries well with small businesses because it helps to craft the ultimate customer experience. According to the Salesforce Connected Customer Report, 80 percent of customers said the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. 

However, CRM isn't only for external customers. It connects and streamlines processes for internal "customers" (i.e. employees). In the context of an SMB, with its relatively small numbers of people and tight-knit organizational structure, data can have a painful habit of being poorly organized, and not analyzed correctly. It can be difficult to extract intelligence when business data is held in multiple locations. Reports can be hard to create and time-consuming. Managers can also easily lose sight of what their teams are up to, which means not being able to offer the right support at the right time. Too often critical information gets stored in emails, spreadsheets, or worse, handwritten notes or in the heads of salespeople, which is a risky strategy that doesn't scale the business, or ensure seamless customer service when issues arise. 


Small businesses are seeing the benefits of CRM.

Thanks to Einstein, the world's number one CRM just got smarter. Einstein is artificial intelligence built into Salesforce CRM so all one needs to do is simply to turn it on and Einstein gets to work by predicting the next best sales deal and the next service or marketing incident. This means that your salesperson knows who to approach to close that next best deal, and your marketer knows how to sell based on Einstein's recommendations. Small businesses can amplify their resources and have armed their sales, marketing and service team with the power of predictions and deliver the type of customer experience that every customer in this digital age of Industry 4.0 have come to expect.

In an environment of Industry 4.0, SMBs can unlock tremendous business growth by moving towards a connected experience for both internal and external customers. "You can only deliver the best customer experience to every one of your customers when you have a single view of the customer, so their sales, marketing, and service interactions are captured in one convenient view," said Adrian Towsey, Salesforce Area Vice President APAC, Small & Medium Business. "Now with artificial intelligence baked into the platform, the world's leading CRM just got smarter. Now you can hyper-personalize each experience for every one of your customers and this really levels the playing field for small businesses."

Read more about the benefits of CRM for small business at Salesforce now.