If you run a business in 2019, chances are you use Salesforce.

In the last 20 years, Salesforces’ impact has been immense. Before Salesforce, few companies envisioned a world in which software lived anywhere but in on-premise machines. Now, the cloud services market is worth north of $250 billion. Before Salesforce, incumbents engaged in a feature-update arms race that resulted in bloated, expensive products. Now, Salesforce’s nimble delivery method and focus on customer use-cases have made the company synonymous with Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

At present, Salesforce is growing faster than ever. By continuing to innovate, Salesforce is defying the stereotype that size breeds rigidity.

How did they do it?

It began with a simple idea: an easy-to-use software product–“bare-bones to a fault,” as CEO Marc Benioff described the earliest versions–delivered through the cloud.

It matured through relentless attention to the needs of their customers.

Salesforce built their success on a shift in organizational thinking encapsulated by a simple question, “What if I design this business entirely around what the customer needs?”

Their answer was a software product tailored to reflect sales practice at the turn of the century.

Early versions thrived because they let salespeople do all of the things they already did, better. Salesforce.com made it easier to prospect customers; track lead progression through a pipeline; quantify the sales cycle; deliver personalized pitches; segment with customizable metrics; and sustain relationships after closing.

Tulip + Salesforce

In short, Salesforce freed sales from “software” so that they could sell more and sell better.

The product won widespread support among its target demographic because its delivery, functionality, and ease-of-use all worked together to make life better for salespeople.

Before long, Salesforces was overrun with calls from salespeople eager to be part of the future of sales.

The results speak for themselves.

Today, over 200,000 businesses use Salesforce. Salesforce’s AppExchange hosts thousands of user-made applications and extensions. At the time of writing, Salesforce apps have been downloaded nearly 7,000,000 times. And the company’s sales are expected to surpass $16 billion in 2019.

To simplify a complex strategy, Salesforce’s success breaks down like this: Build your company around your customers’ problems. Give them tools that allow users to move beyond traditional ways of working toward new paradigms.

Why Manufacturing Needs a SFDC

The current state of manufacturing software isn’t so different from the state of CRMs when Salesforce came on the scene 20 years ago.

To date, manufacturing software has been, in a word, rigid. While traditional software solutions help with automation, coordination, and data collection, they’re difficult to customize, harder to update, and often require intervention from IT to push small changes. The vast majority live on-prem. The same words used to describe mid-1990s enterprise software–“complex,” “inflexible,” “expensive,” “hard to maintain,” “difficult to update”–could all be used to describe manufacturing software in 2019.

Tulip manufacturing software illustration

At the same time, the manufacturing engineer’s job description has evolved. Engineers are knowledge workers. More than ever, employers expect engineers to have expertise in software development and data science in addition to their domain expertise. With current skills sets turning over every five years, they’re expected to pick up more, faster than ever before. Yet if you visit a shop floor, you’ll still see paper, stop watches, and manual data entry.

If companies like Salesforce have transformed sales by creating new models of work, why hasn’t the same happened in manufacturing? If manufacturing software is built for IT, not engineers, why isn’t there software that gives front-line workers control over their lines? Just as important, why do manufacturers accept a software purchasing experience that lags decades behind every other industry? 

In short, why isn’t there a tool that mirrors the way modern manufacturers work?