5 Trends in CPQ Solutions for Electronics and MRO in 2021
 

For years, many electronics suppliers and distributors have lagged behind in their digital transformation, but with their customer’s expectations shifting rapidly throughout 2020 and into 2021, customer engagement demands a digital approach going forward. 

The benefits of an intelligent configure, price, quote solution are numerous, but the electronics industry as a whole is moving towards a digital future at a pace where the very success of the organization depends on capturing those benefits. Join us as we look at five trends happening within CPQ software in the electronics value chain. 

Sales teams are always looking for a new way to stand out from the pack. As part of a comprehensive digital transformation, capable CPQ solutions are rising to the surface across the industry, with recent trends pointing to an evolution that not only helps organizations adapt to the events of 2020, but also enables them to thrive in this next normal. 

Here are the five trends in 2021 that you should be following closely: 

1. Purpose-Built Product Content and Market Intelligence

Internal data within CPQ software is nothing new, but shifting trends are bringing in new sources of insight and intelligence that offer a better, more complete perspective. In fact, 83% of sales professionals are using some form of CPQ system. 

Emerging trends focus on the application of additional analytics and intelligence, through a combination of market data and historical pricing. Additional insights like these will allow sales teams to upsell customers and improve the average margin per quote. 

Specifically, a shift towards purpose-built solutions for the electronics industry are playing a larger role as time goes on. Not only does this allow for a compressed time-to-value as a result of the specialized data, but it also creates a much smoother implementation process for the solution as a whole. 

A CPQ solution that’s purpose-built can cut down implementation timelines from 7-14 months,  to as little as six weeks, which addresses much of the hesitation surrounding the adoption of a new, digitally transformed solution and the perceived effort it takes to fully utilize the benefits. 

A holistic approach is becoming the new norm, one that leverages real-time intelligence to make informed decisions that take into account inventory levels, market pricing, historical data, and potential risks surrounding each and every line item on a bill of materials. 

Sales teams have spent far too much time working in the dark, capturing only a small portion of the bigger picture in terms of analytics and intelligence. Going forward, this will no longer be the case.  

2. A Renewed Focus on Risk & Resiliency

We’ve long known that things like natural disasters, factory fires, end-of-life, and numerous other factors create risk in global supply chains, but 2020 was a wake-up call for the industry. We’re not thinking about risk enough, and we’re certainly not building resiliency into our designs. 

Quote response should take into account potential risks, considering things like inventory, price volatility, and potential EOL status. As part of a long-term relationship with customers, sales teams need to instill confidence by having the ability to assess requested components for potential issues. Not only that, but they should be able to quickly recommend alternatives, which not only builds trust, but also provides a superior customer experience. 

With a heightened awareness of the risk surrounding every step of the design-to-source lifecycle, marketing and sales leaders are exploring opportunities to make this a reality to automate quote response activities and empower sales support teams with the capabilities they need to address potential risks in any given RFQ. 

3. The Application of Machine Learning 

Automation is a key element of evolving CPQ software. Speed is an essential element of quote response. Sales teams need solutions that can learn and provide streamlined workflows. Machine Learning algorithms offer this capability in the form of accelerated BOM clean-up and part number analysis. 

Too often, sales representatives will spend excessive time manually cleaning a BOM that comes through in an RFQ. Validating part numbers for accuracy or seeking out the intended component is a highly manual process that next generation CPQ solutions will leave in the past. Machine learning algorithms present a way to automate common part data validation and augmentation, and learn over time customer-specific part mapping patterns, thereby removing the need for manual research. 

The automation of a task like BOM clean-up leaves sales teams with added time to finish a quote response in minutes or hours instead of days. 

4. Enabling Self-Service

With most purchases occurring online, self-service solutions are becoming an integral part of CPQ and ecommerce solutions. According to Gartner, buyers only spend 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers when they are considering a purchase.

Not only is a self-service approach preferred by many, it also puts more time in the hands of your sales organization, allowing them to focus on more valuable tasks. Beyond simple CPQ self-service capabilities, recent trends are expanding towards providing technical content like electronics component schematics, models, and footprints that allow customers to assess the technical value of your individual products. 

Vertical search engines also assist in this regard, allowing customers to pinpoint their own potential solutions before ever submitting an RFQ, all of which streamlines the process for everyone involved. 

5. Mounting Competition 

Electronics suppliers and distributors are constantly seeking a new competitive edge, with the disruption of 2020, buyers are accelerating and expanding their expectations faster than prior years, which will leave organizations that can’t match this pace in the dust. 

“We need to find other ways to repurpose people and redefine how they engage with the customer. The only thing I’m absolutely dead certain of, is that going forward, it’s not going to work the way it used to.”

– Michael Knight, President, TTI Semiconductor Group 

The new age of digital customer engagement requires an approach that focuses on the elements that sales teams need to stand out from the pack. Intelligent and timely quote response, historical pricing data, and part intelligence to mitigate risk are all rising trends that meet the needs of a fiercely competitive industry. 

Supplyframe CPQ is a purpose-built solution for the electronics industry, leveraging the power of our Design-to-Source Intelligence Network to provide real-time intelligence and unparalleled access to historical pricing and market data. 

A streamlined solution with powerful automation, one that defines an intelligent future for quote response. To learn more, sign up to be a CPQ Insider today and be among the first to receive exclusive news and updates on the future of configure, price, quote solutions. 

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Bradley Ramsey
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