4 Ways Business Automation Improves Navigation of the Electronics Value Chain

The semiconductor market is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart. It’s a wildly dynamic space in which prices can go up or demand can spike with high rapidity, production can tighten and new technologies are constantly being introduced. It can be wild ride.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to total $386 billion in 2017, an increase of 12.3% from 2016, according to market research firm Gartner. In recent years, the semiconductor industry has struggled to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for DRAM, NAND flash and GDDR5 memory. The resulting shortage has rippled through the markets for everything from PCs and smartphones to other electronic devices, creating inventory shortages and driving price increases. At the same time, semiconductor sales are growing at double-digit rates and tight supplies have forced manufacturers to continue to invest millions of dollars to grow their production capabilities and to develop emerging technologies like 3D NAND.

The volatile nature of the electronics market can challenge organizations’ supply chains, from pricing and purchasing to order processing and compliance. Overseas manufacturing introduces additional challenges to meet US trade compliance regulations as well as extended delivery times. Companies need to be able to react quickly to the changing economic environments within the industry by adapting their cost structures to the realities of demand.

Customers are the lifeblood of any electronics organization, and according to Gartner, customers are pushing for speed: better response times and decreased lead times create trust. In such a fast-moving and volatile market, manual order processing increases the risk of missed or backlogged orders, order entry errors, poor tracking of orders and product returns, and regulatory compliance issues. If you have higher infrastructure and headcount costs, how do you win?

Order processing automation can relieve a lot of these headaches. Here are a few ways it can help:

  • Save money and time: Manual processes take time, which is at a premium in the electronics market. Orders get backlogged, deliveries are late, and tracking orders can get bogged down. They can also introduce more errors, which can cost more to correct than the margin of the order. With order-to-cash (O2C) automation software, organizations don’t have to invest in more resources as demand grows and pricing structures change; the infrastructure is in place to handle the elasticity in the market. With many organizations having overseas manufacturing, it’s imperative to enter orders into the supply chain as quickly as possible so that the risks involved with overseas delivery can be managed and requested delivery dates met. Reduced operational and capital expenses also enable businesses to meet ongoing executive demands.
  • Improve productivity and customer service: Customer service departments that already have been stretched to capacity now can automate many of the processes that traditionally have been done manually. This means accelerated order acknowledgement, processing and fulfillment, shorter cycle times and faster handling of returns and damage. With reports and dashboards measuring customer service performance metrics, supply chain managers have a birds’ eye view of what is happening in their process. And because they no longer are tied down by manual processes, customer service representatives can spend more time with customers, truly adding value to strengthen those relationships, driving increased sales and improving profits.
  • Offers complete visibility into business documents: With cloud archiving, documents involved in order processing are retrieved quickly and easily, which means representatives have the information they need at their fingertips to answer customer questions and resolve issues.
  • Increases customer satisfaction: Fewer errors, faster processing and delivery of orders and more direct interaction with customer service representatives can all help electronics organizations achieve their ultimate goal: build trust and  ensure customer satisfaction. In addition, O2C automation software provides customers with self-service tools for visibility into everything from invoices to order process status.

The electronics market moves fast, and juggling a lot of manual order processes slows things down; when speed is a requirement, responsiveness is a differentiator. Electronics business automation software can remove a lot of the challenges created by those manual processes, which can impede on the ability to build trust with the customer and nurture a symbiotic relationship.

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