Coupling Predictive Demand Planning with CRM for Improved Visibility

Aaron Weiss, VP and CIO, Axalta

The Right Combination with Cloud Computing for Easy Decision-Making 
As we continue to examine our role in the automotive industry, we evaluate customer needs and consider how to connect more closely to them. Cloud computing can play a critical role in that, but it alone is not enough. It’s about putting the right data in the hands of our teams and our customers to enable nimble decision-making. We combine cloud computing with data analytics and mobile technologies to continue to improve both response time and the decision-making process, both in our customer’s locations and at our own. The nature of cloud infrastructure can help create a seamless access to data.

Mining Data beyond the Company’s Walls
We connect our own data to supplier data to help us deliver the most robust solution possible to our customers. As we move forward, creating robust data analytics will involve mining data beyond our own walls. This requires collaborating with suppliers to garner real-time analytics so that all parties are on the same page, working towards the common goal of exceeding customer expectations.

CIOs Focus on Business over Technology Solutions
The CIO role has swung from being highly strategic during the early 2000’s to highly tactical during the financial downturn of the 2008-2010 recession that impacted the automotive industry so dramatically. Now the position is swinging to a far more business engaged and strategic role, as we look to leverage technology to drive competitive differentiation. My experience as CIO has followed that trajectory with the overlay of the emergence of real mobile and cloud based computing infrastructure. That shift has only increased the need for CIOs to focus on driving business solutions versus just technology solutions.

IT is a Full Partner in Driving Growth
Having experienced IT from both the CIO chair and from a business leader perspective, my biggest takeaway is that IT is a full partner in driving growth and needs to behave that way. IT has, for too long, strived to have a “seat at the table”, when in actuality, the “seat” has always been there. As a CIO, you need to put aside the institutionalized chip on the shoulder of wanting to be relevant to the business and just be part of the business. As a business leader, I want IT to be part of the discussion on how to drive growth and differentiation, not wait to extend an invitation to have a “seat at the table”. Be the business. Carpe diem.

Seamless Operational Agility and Monitoring with IoT
As a coating business, it may influence the ability to drive real-time line information from our customers’ processes. The promise is seamless operational agility and monitoring, however, we’re going to have to be vigilant and ensure we don’t create any IT-created hurdles that can impede that seamless access from within our customers’ premises.

Right Product in the Right Application at the Right Time
CRM is especially critical for increased effectiveness of our Refinish business, where we work with thousands of customer firms with varying levels of complexity. Our goal is to put the right product in the right application at the right time. This will require agile systems to help provide that across a supply chain that stretches from Axalta through distributors to end shops in North America, Europe, China and beyond. Predictive demand planning, coupled with CRM will help provide the visibility that we need in order for us to become increasingly responsive to customer needs.