Connecting IoT and OT to Salesforce
The IoT market has been maturing, as depicted in the Gartner hype cycle picture below. Paradoxically, as stand-alone IoT technology components, including platforms, are becoming commoditized, they do not always drive the expected value-based outcomes companies to anticipate.
Tight integration between the IoT deployment and Salesforce can unlock the real value from IoT data in various ways. For many enterprises, Salesforce is a key application for CRM, customer support, field service, and customer interaction and the cornerstone of many business processes. Bridging IoT and OT to Salesforce allows enriching asset performance data with context to drive business value.
Giving Salesforce business users access to data and performance metrics from connected assets provides 5 key benefits:
- Optimize field service interventions, reduce the number of truck rolls and maximize intervention efficiency
- Avoid the cost of unplanned downtime or SLA non-compliance
- Reduce call center costs
- Increase revenues via servitization
- Increase agility and shorten time-to-value
Each of these benefits is key to any ROI calculation for an investment in technology that allows leveraging IoT data in Salesforce. Let’s explore each benefit in more detail.
Optimize Field Service Interventions
Discrete manufacturers typically have a large pool of field service technicians, and Salesforce is often the application of choice for managing field service operations. Data from connected assets can make truck rolls more successful and more accurate. On top of this, avoiding unnecessary dispatches directly translates into an improved bottom line.
There are a number of ways in which data from connected assets improve field service operations in Salesforce. Remote operations teams become more efficient, resolve problems independently or diagnose issues without a physical field service intervention by enriching asset performance information with business context.
First, connected assets provide new tools to remote operations teams. When they can leverage accurate real-time and historical asset information and combine that with business context information in Salesforce, problem resolution is expedited:
- In some cases, issues can be resolved remotely, with or without the help of the customers, avoiding a truck roll.
- In other cases, remote operations teams diagnose problems and avoid dispatches that would otherwise be qualified as false positives.
If a technician gets dispatched, analysis of data from connected assets before the visit further improves the process:
- Root-cause analysis before the intervention leads to a higher chance of resolving problems while onsite (e.g., because the right spare parts are available), avoiding a second truck roll.
- If the root cause of a problem is known, field technicians will need less time to resolve issues while on site.
The technician will also benefit from direct access to alarms, performance metrics, and historical data while resolving problems onsite. Condition-based and predictive maintenance strategies further reduce the number of truck rolls.
In a recent report, IoT Analytics claims that predictive maintenance implementations yielded a positive ROI in 83 percent of the cases and that 45 percent of those reported amortization in less than a year. As a bonus, predictive maintenance can also improve spare part inventory cost and reduce the associated working capital requirements.
Avoid Unplanned Downtime Cost or SLA non-compliance
Unplanned downtime can be costly. Think of a production line going down for a couple of hours or workers sitting idle because an elevator or a piece of heavy machinery broke down at a construction site. Similarly, maintenance contracts or performance-based outcome contracts may include penalty clauses when performance and uptime targets are unmet.
Reducing unplanned downtime is a major driver for integrating IoT with after-sales support and field service.
Bundling the information from connected assets, the customer contract, and associated maintenance plan in Salesforce allows acting much quicker to potential issues. Coupling a predictive maintenance strategy to case management and field service allows reducing unplanned downtime substantially. For example, the Eaton Digital Strategy Update of March 1, 2021, reported reductions in 15-20 percent downtime for various use cases.
Reduce Call Center Cost
First-line support greatly benefits from increased asset visibility. Asset visibility for customers and call center agents increases the success rate of self-care and assisted care.
A self-service approach where discrete manufacturers expose some of the performance data of connected assets to end-customers, e.g., via Experience Cloud, will deflect part of the calls. Customers will find the actual status information and recommended self-repair actions in a portal and no longer feel the need to contact the call center.
Similarly, condition-based or predictive maintenance will reduce customer calls compared to a reactive approach with many unplanned interventions. Putting accurate asset status information in the hands of call center agents will increase the first call resolution rate and reduce the call handling time, which all positively impacts the overall call center costs.
Since all of these elements have a cumulative result, they can lead to substantial savings.
Increase Service Revenues
Many discrete manufacturers are reinventing their business model to be less focused on product sales and more focused on generating customer service outcomes. A report by Field Service USA, WBR Insights, and Salesforce called “Improving Customer Outcomes Through Asset-Centricity in Field Service” states that 89 percent of survey respondents, distributors, and discrete manufacturers state that they are working toward an outcome-based service approach as a strategic goal.
Data from connected assets and visibility on those assets from within Salesforce are indispensable in such a strategy. Increasing service revenues and outcome-based services are high on the agenda of many discrete manufacturers.
Along the path towards outcome-based service models, there are also other more mundane use cases to increase service and after-sales revenues:
- Track the consumption of consumables and use Salesforce for automated order placement and replenishment.
- Usage-based billing where the actual usage of an asset determines the monthly invoice.
Use the strategies listed above to increase customer satisfaction and upsell customers to a higher service tier, backed by actual asset performance and uptime reports. E.g. OTIS in its “Digital elevator innovation,” November 18, 2020 issue, reported 5-6 percent higher retention rates and higher sales per unit for connected assets.
Increase Agility and Shorter Time-to-Value
Salesforce is known as an agile platform enabling faster time to value. Its no-code approach allows business users to participate in the content creation process without needing to rely on IT resources. This is in stark contrast to the typical IoT approach that requires highly specialized IT resources to implement new use cases.
Providing capabilities to configure data processing in Salesforce will save on IT resources, and allows to experiment faster or adapt to changing market conditions. Low-code & no-code put the business user in the driver seat of the IoT journey.
If enterprises want to realize the full business potential from the IoT data they collect, proper integration into business applications is required. For those companies leveraging Salesforce as CRM, helpdesk, and/or field service application, providing IoT asset visibility to Salesforce business users brings many tangible business benefits, as demonstrated above.