New Salesforce research reveals that the pandemic has progressed plans for cloud adoption for 81% of manufacturers


Salesforce, the CRM solutions provider, has released its Trends in Manufacturing report which shows the far-reaching effects the global pandemic has had on the industry.

Recent data analysis from Salesforce highlights how businesses had to pivot to new strategies and models, the gaps in achieving transformation, and how their usage of new technologies helped in preparedness to compete in response to ongoing uncertainty.

"As manufacturers recover from the pandemic, we’ve seen a digital divide leaving some manufacturers prepared for the future of the industry, and others struggling to meet evolving expectations” said John Kelleher, Area Vice President, Enterprise Sales UK at Salesforce. “Today, every company is a technology company, manufacturers who adopt such a mindset — moving operations to the cloud, leveraging automation, and creating digital experiences for the customer — can help position their companies for success over the next decade.” 
Salesforce Research surveyed nearly 750 global leaders in manufacturing across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, including respondents from the UK.  Specifically, the two groups surveyed were Future-Ready manufacturers, those who felt their systems and technology could handle the decade ahead, and Unprepared manufacturers, those who did not feel their systems could handle the next ten years. Key differences between respondents were identified and the following themes were uncovered: 

  • Uncertainty revealed a pressing need for business agility as well as an opportunity to reimagine certain functions
  • Customer-adjacent roles have been permanently altered by the pandemic
  • Digitised sales and operations is key to an agile, future-ready business
  • New business models, such as servitization, are an important part of forward-looking manufacturers’ strategy

Below are key insights from local respondents in the UK:

Adapting to a post-pandemic world

The impact of COVID-19 on manufacturers has been far reaching, and has not only changed the way they do business now, but will leave a lasting impression on how they operate in the future. 80% of respondents in the UK reported that their production capacity was significantly or somewhat changed as a result of the pandemic - with a further 70% believing the changes will be permanent. 

Differentiated products and services

Given the significant disruption caused to the industry during the course of the pandemic, they’re looking for new ways to keep customers engaged by diversifying their product and service offerings to keep pace with the competition. Over the next 24 months, manufacturers in the UK expressed that their highest priorities were developing new products (88%) and services (90%).

A shift to data driven insights

A lack of data transparency and having siloed teams within manufacturing organisations can create challenges for leaders when trying to accurately forecast sales, which has become ever more important given the ongoing economic climate. Almost half of UK respondents (48%), feel as though data being difficult to extract is the biggest challenge they face. Coupled with 88% noting that legacy tools pose an issue, it is clear that the industry must shift to an increasingly digital mindset to derive the most value for their businesses and customers.


Data in this report is from a double-blind survey conducted from August 29 through September 15, 2020 that generated 750 responses from manufacturing leaders. Respondents are from across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. All respondents are third-party panelists (not limited to Salesforce customers). Survey results come from two primary manufacturing groups:

  • Discrete: Operations can change to meet different product needs. Any variety of setup and changeover might occur, at any rate.
  • Process: Operations remain constant, never-changing and always running.

These two groups are further broken down in the following:

  • Discrete:
    • OEM — sell complex products, equipment, and assets sold either direct or through dealer networks
    • Distribution — sell specification or industry standard parts sold through distributors
    • Product Parts — sell engineered parts bespoke to customer use case
  • Process:
    • griculture Products — sell fertiliser, seed, other products sold to growers/producers through distributors
    • Chemicals — sell industrial chemicals in volume direct or through distribution
    • Materials/Other Process — sell metals, minerals, clays, other materials

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