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.

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.

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?

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

Tulip is building precisely this tool.

We complete the last mile of shop floor automation by giving manufacturing engineers a self-service tool that turns every station into an instrumented, data collecting, guided environment enabling continuous improvement.

The idea behind Tulip is simple. An engineer identifies a shop-floor process that needs improvement. Using Tulip’s no code development environment, they create an IoT connected application that improves the execution of the process. During operations, the application collects critical data on human and machine performance, providing full visibility into the process.

Tulip lets engineers connect back-end systems to front-end execution without any of the timely, complex integrations characteristic of current software systems. It makes real-time process visibility and immediate, continuous improvement a reality. Put differently, Tulip brings the manufacturing tech stack into the present.

Using conditional logic, event-based triggers, and multiple variables (features previously only available through programming languages), Tulip lets manufacturers create interactive, dynamic apps that respond to humans, machines, and other inputs as processes run. With plug-and-play IoT connectivity, engineers can bring their full factory online.

There are as many potential apps as there are shop floor processes. Customers have build media rich, interactive work instructions customized for their processes; machine changeover apps; pharmaceutical industry specific apps like line clearance and electronic logbook; digital gemba walk; and hosts more.

To date, users have created over 1,600 unique applications, and that number grows every day. In the last 6 months alone, our customers have tracked 15 million processes.

We’re on the shopfloor talking to manufacturers every single day. The people we talk with are ready to reap the benefits of digital transformation. At Tulip, we like to think we’re arming the rebels: we’re giving forward looking manufacturers the tools they need to bring manufacturing into the future.

Just as Salesforce realized the future of CRMs 1.) is in the cloud, 2.) begins with the customer experience, 3.) prioritizes simplicity, Tulip operates in line with a similar series of truths.

The Future of Manufacturing is Augmented – in manufacturing, humans aren’t going anywhere. Technology should work with manufacturers to help them do their jobs more efficiently with fewer mistakes and greater visibility.

The Future of Manufacturing Requires a New Tech Stack – The largest leaps forward will come when manufacturers can act on real-time data from a holistic perspective. This necessitates connectivity in a way that only the cloud can provide. It requires the ability to connect front-end execution with back-end system in a way only a self-service platform can.

The Future of Manufacturing Is Agile – Manufacturing’s current challenges demand democratized innovation. Top-down isn’t good enough any more. The factory of the future will empower engineers to convert their knowledge directly into solutions.  

At Tulip, idea isn’t to prescribe what engineers should build. They know best what they need to build. It’s to help them imagine what they would build if they had the right set of tools at their disposal.