How energy sector OEMs can increase profitability
POSTED : March 16, 2015
BY : Stephanie Gaughen

For those of us working in energy sector OEMs, especially if you’re challenged with today’s low natural gas prices, efficiency means everything. Efficiency drives greater profitability and greater success. It impacts every aspect of the business, from marketing to sales to operations, customer service, and accounting.

Improving efficiency means taking a good hard look at your business to identify burdensome processes that create inventory, utilization, and capacity problems; workforce management issues; missed sales opportunities, and invoicing delays. These can all trickle down to impact the customer, too.

Many of you may still be managing your sales leads, accounts, inventory, price books, work tickets, employee scheduling, and other tasks by Excel spreadsheets or email. This has been the most common way even for larger energy businesses to operate for some time. But it’s becoming more and more obsolete for businesses in all verticals to rely on spreadsheets for data management.

Out with Excel, In with ‘cloud’

One of the best ways to improve profitability for energy businesses is to revamp your software strategy to include a fully customizable and integration compatible solution that can serve as a central dashboard of your business performance. OEMs, service providers, independent power producers, and oil and gas exploration companies, can stand to benefit greatly from modern cloud software systems that seamlessly handle sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and accounting activities.

One of the biggest problems with Excel is that you can’t automate processes or share data. With many “cloud” solutions such as Sales Cloud and Pardot, you can generate reports for sales and marketing in seconds, not days. These solutions also feature an open API for integration with ERP so users only need to log into one system to see the same data. A good cloud system also helps users log in and share customer preferences so the account can be serviced seamlessly across the organization.

Consider this scenario: cross-selling and upselling to existing customers can translate to big revenue. But when your accounting team is the only department with access to current account information in a system that’s not connected to the sales CRM, that becomes very difficult. Or, when your sales reps are managing contacts with Excel spreadsheets, aggregating meaningful reports in order to identify the best opportunities becomes virtually impossible. All of that is much more seamless with a modern integrated system.

Cloud software for the OEMs

Effective cutting-edge software for the energy industry will eliminate the headache of managing timekeeping, billing, scheduling, routing, inventory, work tickets, compliance and regulatory performance, project plans, and much more. There’s usually not a one-size-fits-all solution “out of the box” so I encourage clients to look at apps that can be customized to perform the functions above and that integrate easily.

One trend increasing in popularity is “platform-as-a-service (PaaS)” such as Salesforce1 Lightning where users get a platform to develop custom apps quickly and economically. That eliminates the need for costly on-site infrastructure, servers, and additional IT resources. Salesforce1 has become the most compelling of these PaaS solutions because administrators don’t need a coding background to create apps, and each app they build is mobile compatible. That adds a lot of value and savings to your total cost of ownership.

New business software: Don’t fall behind

Aligning software technology with business objectives has never been more important. Energy companies that aren’t innovating their internal processes will continue to find it more difficult to improve profitability. And with software products getting easier, faster, more economical, and more effective, businesses adopting them are gaining a competitive edge.

The world isn’t going to wait for you to update your Excel spreadsheets. There are apps for your critical business functions and a good consultant can help you sort out your options.

Find out how to create a winning Salesforce roadmap.

About the author

Stephanie Gaughen

Stephanie Gaughen is a Senior Pardot Consultant at Concentrix Catalyst. She holds a master’s degree in media and communications. She has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology innovation, and next-generation marketing.

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