Customers can help Industrials navigate through the recession – if only Industrials would let them

Customers can help Industrials navigate through the recession – if only Industrials would let them


  1. Industrial OEMs deal with a very complex installed base environment – functional,  fragmented, and silo-ed ownership of data
  2. As a result, no one function, in particular, is accountable for managing and maintaining data about an OEM’s installed base.
  3. As a result, it is incredibly time-consuming, tedious, and expensive to glean any insight or intelligence from this data.
  4. This effort limits the actions OEMs can take based on this data and, as a result, are short-changing themselves in their strategic initiatives.
  5. Solving these problems would unleash growth and productivity for the OEM
  6. An Installed Base Platform is the perfect solution for these problems

I hadn’t intended to write this as a recession piece. This blog was originally a summary of the results of an industry-wide survey, diligently run by Michael Blumberg of the Blumberg Advisory group. However, as I got down to write this, there were two factors weighing heavily on me – the first one was what was happening all around us (read this as recessionary headlines). The other was the survey results (not a pretty picture). 

Inflation, stagflation, recession, downturn – call it what you may, but ‘it’ is upon us, with some estimates pointing to a recession hitting us in mid-2023 or mid-2024, depending on who you read today. Industrials, hit with lower equipment sales during the pandemic, were hoping for a respite post-pandemic but are now bracing themselves for the double whammy.

That brings me to the survey Michael Blumberg conducted and why the results mean much more against the backdrop of the looming downturn. The survey results are incredibly insightful and shine a light on how Industrials will conduct themselves during the recession. As I said earlier, though, the picture isn’t pretty. In a nutshell, while the vast majority of Industrials have ambitions to grow, their means and methods remain archaic. They aspire to step into the 21st century with tech adoption and digital transformation; however, their efforts in this direction feel like a ground-hog day where they repeat the same mistakes they did when adopting their ERP, CRMs, and other “green-screens” two-three decades ago.

While the vast majority of Industrials have ambitions to grow, their means and methods remain archaic. 

Industrials are bad at record-keeping

There, I said it. Industrials are bad at record-keeping. I haven’t met a single Industrial OEM executive who would disagree with me on this one topic. Their affirmations are always followed by reasons why this is the case. But, thanks to the Industry Survey, we can now outline precisely what ails Industrial record-keeping, especially data about their customers. Industrial OEMs deal with a complex installed base environment – functional,  fragmented, and siloed.

Industry Survey Report: Number of Systems in which your Industrial Data residesSource: Industry Survey conducted by Blumberg Advisory Group in association with Entytle, Inc

This has a ripple effect – with no single person responsible for data, customer data is nobody’s baby.  While everyone needs the data, no one wants to own it because it doesn’t fall under their purview.

Industry Survey Report- Which function in your organization is responsible for managing Installed Base Data | Entytle

Source: Industry Survey conducted by Blumberg Advisory Group in association with Entytle,Inc

Now compare that to tech companies; healthcare enterprises, amongst others, employ a Chief Data Officer squarely in charge of all things data. There’s no Chief Installed Base Officer as far as Industrials are concerned – if there are, it’s usually an added responsibility with minimal powers to execute change.

 My biggest takeaway from the survey results is that, unlike tech companies, healthcare orgs, etc., Industrials don’t see themselves as data companies. While tech companies rely heavily on data for their operations, healthcare orgs have realized the importance of good quality data in delivering efficient care a decade ago. Industrials, on the other hand, view themselves as manufacturers, and equipment manufacturers, to be specific, but not as data companies. This serves them well when selling equipment. However, for the digital transformation initiatives they are undertaking post-2019 and for facing the downturn that is hurtling towards us, they will have to reimagine themselves as a data company as well (or at least imagine themself as a data-first company). 

Industrials…view themselves as manufacturers, and equipment manufacturers, to be specific, but definitely not a data company. 

Reliable data remains elusive for Industrials

Industrials have resorted to various means to glean insights from data over the decades. For example, due to a lack of appropriate technology decades ago, OEMs relied on tribal knowledge and passed customer information down through generations of employees. ERPs and CRMs, which were once hailed as modern technology marvels, are now legacy tools creating innumerable challenges with data retrieval. And that does make sense. After all, these tools were designed for data entry, not data retrieval, nor for data insights.

Industry Survey Report: What tools are used to obtain Business analytics from Installed Base Data | Entytle

Source: Industry Survey conducted by Blumberg Advisory Group in association with Entytle,Inc

Another challenge these tools face is that there’s often more than one type of such tool in play. Larger OEMs (typically, $100MM and above) tend to have multiple tools used for the same purpose across multiple departments due to legacy reasons. Sometimes, the OEM may have acquired another OEM or parts supplier or distributor who brought in their own existing tools to the mix. Asset details are then recorded in both tools simultaneously till one day they aren’t – creating a spaghetti of part duplicate, part unique records.

There’s also the walled-garden effect created by various departments owing to the nature of their business and because “that’s how things are done”. This manifests itself in the form of data being tracked in departmental or individual spreadsheets. These spreadsheets typically track the largest customer in 20-80 fashion with some focus on the bottom performers in terms of wallet share. However, most of these spreadsheets ignore the middle-60 completely.

With the wide array of tools available and data scattered across multiple touch-points & viewpoints, getting reliable insights from this data remains elusive for Industrials.

As a result, OEMs tend to rely on the data that they know and trust (which represents just a fraction of the actual assets). Consequently, the insights they glean from that limited data are limited to what they can see. 

OEMs are short-changing themselves every single day

Data reliability wasn’t a problem before. But it is now. The world around us changed in more drastic ways than we could have ever imagined. After all, which industrial can truly say that they were prepared for the day when they’d be selling assets over a zoom call? Events of the past few years have laid bare structural weaknesses in enterprise orgs and exposed their vulnerabilities in rolling out large-scale projects. 

Industrials woke up to a different reality and tried their best to quickly adapt. Every single OEM we have spoken to in the past two years has invested heavily in upgrading their technology, tools, and processes. The most common upgrade projects being run today are ERP/CRM upgrades or migrations, eCommerce portal setup & rollout, and IIoT. These are strategic investments that are intended to bring Industrials into the proverbial 21st century. 

However, what’s missing across all these projects is the emphasis on data quality. All of these projects focus on cleaning up the user experience, and workflows, or focus on launching new services based on existing customer data. Interestingly, and sadly, all of them ignore data quality. Somehow, data quality is expected to be auto-fixed or ignored for a later date. This is a myopic vision that will lay to waste the millions of dollars being pumped into current technology projects. After all, how can an eCommerce customer portal provide the right part suggestions or warranty options to the customer if the data powering all the portal is duplicate, redundant, and outdated. Similarly, how can the CRM/ERP behave differently even after the upgrade when the data underneath them all remains the same. Even top CRMs have started to accept this reality in recent times.

Solving for these core challenges would be the difference between OEMs that make optimal use of their investments and come out stronger vs. those who are just pouring money down the drain. An Installed Base Platform can help OEMs right away. 

Michael Blumberg has unearthed these and many more insights relevant to the OEM industry as we face wave after wave of disruptions, and economic headwinds. 

You can read the entire report here – Report: Installed Base Platforms- An emerging technology to maximize the value of Installed Base Data

Installed Base Platforms- An emerging technology | Industry Survey Reports | Entytle


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