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Salesforce adds AI-infused CRM products for the manufacturing sector

Salesforce.com Inc. sells its flagship customer relationship management platform in a variety of flavors. Some versions are geared toward enterprises, others cater to smaller businesses and a handful of the platform’s editions are customized for use in specific industries.

Falling into the last category are the new products Salesforce debuted this morning. Manufacturing Cloud and Consumer Goods Cloud are vertical-specific versions of the company’s CRM built to help firms that make physical goods run their business more efficiently.

First up is Manufacturing Cloud, which is set to become generally available next month. It includes analytics features that Salesforce said will ease the task of predicting revenue from supply contracts. The ability to anticipate sales is important for every company but is especially vital to manufacturers, which have to start adjusting to changes in customer demand up to years ahead of time due to the cost and complexity of modifying a production line.

Manufacturing Cloud includes an account-based forecasting engine for estimating future revenue. Analysts can create a prediction model and then update it over time as customer needs and the broader market evolve. Meanwhile, another tool called Sales Agreements visualizes key data such as planned orders in a centralized dashboard, allowing users to assess how well a deal performs against the sales forecast.

Salesforce is releasing a separate solution called Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing to help companies put this data to use. An extension of the CRM provider’s Einstein machine learning feature set, the offering highlights potential sales opportunities and flags customers who may be at risk of leaving.

Consumer Goods Cloud, the other industry-specific CRM version Salesforce debuted today, focuses on a narrower section of the manufacturing sector. It aims to boost the productivity of the field staffers whom consumer goods manufacturers rely on to represent them vis-à-vis retailers. These employees do the legwork that keeps the revenue stream going, such as scouting new sales opportunities and helping store manages organize items on shelves. 

Representatives can access Consumer Goods Cloud on the go through a mobile app. The platform allows manufacturers to assign every worker a list of stores they should visit in a given day, suggested activities and instructions for performing each task.

Once inside a store, representatives can pull up the Consumer Goods Cloud app to manage the hands-on parts of their work. A feature called Einstein Vision for Consumer Goods Cloud uses the phone camera to automatically take inventory of the items lining shelves and check that the product arrangement is up to code. If a store manager needs to replenish their stock, representatives can use the app to take down orders.

Photo: Salesforce

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