Online connectivity to meet stakeholder needs A Cummins case study

0
65

Web opportunities

By exploiting opportunities offered by both the Internet and intranet, Cummins has pioneered some innovative methods to enhance communications with its employees and its customers. These online assets are playing an important role in helping the company achieve its aims of:

  • motivating employees to act like owners working together
  • partnering with customers to make sure they succeed

Cummins has established a network of related website portals, hosting important aspects of global business communications, information and support operations. Each of these is configured to reflect the needs of different audiences, covering both internal and external customers.

With this highly valuable online business asset, Cummins has dramatically enhanced the speed of information flow and opened up instant access to key data for employees and customers worldwide, thereby giving itself a major competitive advantage.

Cummins use of Internet and intranet based links enables the company to create connectivity across all aspects of its business, ranging from connections with customers to links with employees. This extensive web-based presence enables Cummins to:

  • reach out to customers of Cummins powered equipment
  • communicate faster, more accurately and more cost effectively
  • communicate across the supply and delivery chain
  • continually update data, e.g. if a product specification changes or a new product launched.

The delivery channel

The process of manufacturing products and taking them to market involves a series of both internal and external customers, often referred to as the supply chain. This is known as the delivery channel at Cummins. This method of operation is a common feature of B2B companies.

Cummins external customers include the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) who assembles the final product and its distribution network, and, of course, the end customer for the equipment itself. Internal customers include Cummins marketing, engineering and customer support operations and local distributors. Operating globally means that Cummins relies on a highly skilled distribution network to provide sales, aftermarket and service support.

This extended delivery channel involving different organisations raises important issues regarding communications and information. By seamlessly providing these organisations with a linked-up online capability, they can work together as delivery partners to maximise customer satisfaction with both the product and the supporting services provided.

Effective communication therefore enables Cummins to 'push' engines through the delivery channel, i.e. to sell them to equipment manufacturers, and also to 'pull' engines through the delivery channel whereby end customers (e.g. owner-operators and fleet purchasers) prefer equipment specified with a Cummins engine.

Online communications

Communication in business involves delivering clear, accurate messages to a relevant target audience. An effective communication channel is one that provides a clear 2-way or multi-channel flow of communications.

Online communications provide Cummins with high levels of connectivity to all its stakeholder groups, providing considerable benefits relative to other forms of communication:

  • speed - instantaneous communication
  • immediacy - the ability to continually update information
  • accessibility - easy, given the wide availability of the web
  • consistency - single common point of reference worldwide.

As a major B2B company, these attributes are particularly relevant to Cummins. The company has rapidly moved many of its traditional communications online. For example, its engineering and other manuals were originally in paper form. Later, these were loaded onto CDs and are now published on the web using modern portal web technology.

The web has enabled Cummins to develop competitive advantage from its original strength, i.e. its engines, power systems and components, by enhancing support to intermediaries such as distributors and OEMs. This support is known as augmented product.

There is an ongoing process of improvement in the augmented product as Cummins develops the technology and the software to give customers a better service and relationship with the company. Cummins operates in a fast moving market and keeping up with change is essential to success.

Communications to meet different user needs

Cummins provides a series of valuable web-portal communications systems that help to give competitive advantage. These draw on a large central database of information, selecting appropriate information for each audience. Cummins portals are configured around a main website which then enables rapid access to related sites.

Public portal

An extensive portfolio of public websites provide key information for customers and end-users of the company's products, for investors, the press and potential recruits. Cummins.com is the main website location for corporate and engine business information, closely supported by Cummins distributor websites with local language content. Other areas of the business are covered by websites for subsidiary companies such as Fleetguard, Holset, Newage AVK SEG, Onan and Cummins Power Generation.

The Cummins.com website features a product registration area where end-users of Cummins powered equipment anywhere in the world can register their engine and location online. This information is fed through to the nearest Cummins distributor, who can then provide a rapid response service if the end-user urgently needs service or parts support. This web-driven programme, known as QuickServe equips the company with a significant competitive advantage.

Cummins has established a unique online capability with the MiningGateway.com website. While operating as a mining industry forum, the website also enables customers of high value mining equipment in remote areas to access engine data and diagnostics broadcast real-time from their equipment over a secure web link.

Employee portal

Cummins has a highly diverse workforce spread worldwide. These employees need to be kept up-to-date with important developments. Employees lead busy working lives so they need instant access to the latest information and work resources provided by the Cummins employee portal.

Cummins places great value on having a highly motivated and informed workforce, so it provides them with the hardware, software, and technical backup required to sustain their motivation. For employee use, Cummins has installed 15,000 PCs worldwide with upgraded capability for online access. These gate through to the employee portal, which has two main elements:

  • CCN - Cummins Communication Network : community site with daily updates on employee achievements, company and industry news, as well as work information and online training packages.
  • CIRCUIT: highly detailed technical and marketing information presented in a user-friendly format.

Distributor portal

Global Distributor Connectivity (GDC) is a secure community website for Cummins distributors and dealers. It equips the Cummins distributor with a single-point of entry to all the commercial and engineering data needed to run their business more efficiently. Popular areas include product inventory, warranty database, industry news and a resource library - while embedded hot links mean that all other Cummins online resources are no more than a few clicks away.

Portal web technology enables GDC to recognise users and customise the site with 'MyGDC' windows to pull up most regularly accessed areas. It carries news and information specific to regional communities of distributors and dealers.

The QuickServe Online website allows Cummins distributors, OEMs and fleet customers instant access to parts and service information. With operators needing to keep equipment up and running, this secure website provides real-time, daily updated parts and service information with the click of a mouse. Search functions are easily performed using the unique engine serial number from a Cummins worldwide engine population of almost 8 million extracting relevant data from over 1 million documents.

OEM Customer portal

Global Customer Engineering (GCE) is a password protected Internet site providing the in-depth technical information required for installing Cummins engines in almost every type of diesel powered application. The site gives rapid access to key engine data, emissions compliance and installation configurations.

Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who specify Cummins engines in their products have registered for this online database. These OEM users, as well as suppliers, Cummins employees and distributors now consider this secure website an indispensable tool to help them work faster and more effectively. Indeed, GCE has proved to be a major success in differentiating Cummins against the competition.

Not all companies would be prepared to share this depth of product information with their customers, but Cummins believes that their more open approach is essential to provide the best customer support.

Conclusion

Intelligent organisations use and continually develop their use of web-based technologies and communications. As a major international company, Cummins has seized the opportunity to build up its internal and external communications in order to provide a host of business benefits.

Cummins will continue to develop its websites in response to changing needs. In the modern world, the speed of change continually increases and, by leading the field in providing an augmented product, Cummins is best placed to make further rapid progress in embracing new web-based technologies

Cummins | Online connectivity to meet stakeholder needs