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The Fourth Industrial Revolution: How automation and AI will impact manufacturing

A digital revolution in manufacturing is underway. Here's what manufacturers can expect and how they can take advantage of the trends.

By Meaghan Murphy, Contributing Writer

Last updated October 17, 2022

Workers on production lines, assembling industrial goods with wrenches is one image that usually comes to mind when people think of the manufacturing industry. But now that we’re in what’s being described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that visual is as outdated as the steam engine.

According to the World Economic Forum, “the first industrial revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The second used electric power to create mass production. The third used electronics and information technology to automate production.”

Now, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is taking shape, characterized by “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

This digital revolution in manufacturing includes the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which involves using technology to automate complex tasks and discovering patterns in the manufacturing processes that can be used to improve workflow.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies are expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value by 2025. For manufacturers that embrace these new technologies, the opportunities are vast. For those in the manufacturing space, there are a few key trends to watch for:

  1. Advances in digital technology

    Manufacturing organizations are increasing investments in their digital capabilities to create smarter, more efficient operations and improve collaboration.
  2. New business models

    While direct-to-consumer, on-demand, and subscription services have been around for a while, consumers’ expectations have changed significantly.
  3. Intelligent technology

    More manufacturers are using AI, machine learning (ML), and blockchain to automate workflows and increase efficiencies.
  4. An evolving workforce

    As Gen Z employees replace baby boomers, skills gaps will create staffing challenges. Meanwhile, the gig economy will continue to gain in popularity.
  5. Increased regulation

    New data privacy laws, like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will be enacted worldwide.
  6. New opportunities

    The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already underway. And manufacturers who use customer service software have a distinct advantage over competitors who continue to rely on a traditional approach.

Produce better customer experiences

Zendesk can help you drive CX at scale.

Zendesk provides flexible, easy-to-use tools for manufacturers. Its award-winning software allows companies to streamline the process of communicating with their customers, resulting in a better customer experience (CX), improved sales, and reduced costs.

With Zendesk, manufacturers can evolve their businesses from the production and transaction of goods to more customer-centric operations that develop brand loyalty and drive long-term growth.

Manufacture better CX

Almost every manufacturer is focused on producing high-quality goods on time and under budget. And to do that successfully, manufacturers need to build strong relationships with suppliers and distributors. But one of the most challenging relationships to develop successfully is the relationship a manufacturer has with customers.

For most manufacturers, customer loyalty is a serious challenge given the global competition and extremely high customer expectations. Zendesk research shows that 61 percent of customers will walk away after a single bad experience.

An omnichannel support platform that integrates all brands, global contact centers, and support channels into one service solution can help improve the customer experience. And if customers are able to reach you from their favorite channel—whether it’s online self-service, chat, phone, or messaging—they’re more likely to remain loyal to your business.

An omnichannel support platform can improve your business by:

  • Maintaining a single conversational record across channels for continuity, making it easy for agents to have the full context of current and previous communications

  • Enabling cross-channel agent experiences for efficient knowledge sharing and faster resolution times on all support channels

  • Serving customers content related to their registered products, such as warranties, support docs, and shipping status

Advantages of AI

With Zendesk, manufacturers can easily scale operations with AI-powered automation and self-service tools. The intuitive software delivers seamless, personalized support across any channel and drives improvement with powerful analytics and reporting. Zendesk is built on an open, cloud-based platform with enterprise-class security features. This solution empowers manufacturers with the flexibility and security they need to deliver industry-leading customer experiences—no matter the complexity or scale.

How Zendesk improves manufacturing CX

  • Centralize your company’s data

    Seamlessly streamline communications by integrating key information from customer communication channels, business applications, and backend systems.
  • Improve relationships

    Engage with customers, dealers, and distributors across multiple channels—including phone, live chat, email, text, and mobile applications.
  • Boost efficiency

    AI-powered automatons can empower CX agents to customize their workspaces with advanced routing and workflow
  • Security and compliance

    Zendesk features enterprise-grade security features, including:

    * 99.9 percent uptime service-level agreement (SLA)
    * 4.75B interactions processed annually
    * GDPR compliant
    * SOC 2 compliant
    * ISO compliant
  • Implement and scale

    Onboard new agents and launch new divisions easily with software that is intuitively designed and fully customizable—no matter how complex your operations are.

Zendesk’s customer service and engagement software integrates systems, automates workflows, and improves collaboration for your workers and customers. Developing seamless communication channels will ultimately manufacture a better bottom line for your business.

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